Tax dollars at work in Tainan, Taiwan

People are really throwing it down in the parks of Tainan. So much in fact, that it kind of seems like the grass is having a hard time growing, what with all of the vigorous park activities. The ground is patchy, brown and dusty. This could also be reasonably attributed to the fact that it is December. No matter, there’s a small lake (large pond?) with a pagoda terrace in the middle, and for me this more than compensates for the lack of grass. Also I know for a fact that whoever manages park aesthetics in Tainan is really, really concerned with what I think is beautiful. Right.

I jogged a few times (truthfully…it was a jog-walk) along the winding paths of the main park in the centre of Tainan, and I smiled at people, and people smiled at me. I’m averaging a smile reciprocation of about 80% in Taiwan, excellent in my books. I have some observations to share with you from my time hittin’ the paths.

The camera didn’t come along because it would have certainly smacked me in the face as I jogged, but I regret that now. I think that the point of this post would be better communicated with some people shots. Also, as it turns out I didn’t even run that much. The only photos I have are from my first mission to the park, for reconnaissance purposes.

my sunglasses and burgundy canvas bag
Reconnaissance weather: Optimal.
Walkways over Tainan's park pond at dusk leading to a pagoda
The pagoda-in-a-pond was the centrepiece of the park. From over the railings you could watch the fish dart beneath large lily pads.

I like to think that you can get some sense of a city’s vibe by visiting its parks. If I had to extrapolate the vibes I got at the park, onto the city as a whole, they would include:

List A: Tainan Park Vibe

1) Tainan is safe, day or night.
2) It might be kind of nice to be a senior citizen here (Ride your scooter. The cool kind, or the less-cool kind that we are accustomed to in North America, to the park to meet up with your other senior friends. Every day or as you please.)
2) Everybody is doing their own thing, and they aren’t particularly concerned with what you’re up to.
3) Running spandex isn’t a thing here yet, and people will be more concerned with what you’re up to if you wear it.
4) WHERE ARE THE GARBAGE CANS? (This generally applies to all of Taiwan)

Although the vibes left me marveling, I think the observation I was most stoked on was the wide range of activities simultaneously taking place in the park. I wouldn’t say the park was crowded, but more that the available space was being used efficiently.

List B: Tainan Park Happenings (3-5 PM, Weekdays)

1) Napping
2) Meditating
3) Walking, jogging, running, trudging
4) Walking without shoes on a special pathway with raised stones, I can only infer that this is good for your feet
5) Reading
6) Children playing soccer in the dirt
7) Adults exercising in children’s playgrounds
8) Adults exercising in adult’s playgrounds (more bars, less slides)
9) Tai-Chi
10) Several other variations of calisthenics, my favourite of which reminded me of a cross between Tai-Chi and Shakira dance moves. I really wanted to join in…
11) Biking, scootering, carrying a trolley or wheelbarrow, etc.
12) Eating of the picnic or snack variety
13) Card games, board games
14) Social gatherings
15) Personal training sessions (adults, also taking place on what appears to be a children’s playground)
16) Feeding the birds
17) Dating
18) Giving or receiving shoulder massages (unrelated to dating, above, this looked like a legitimate business exchange)
19) Tree stretching: Using long rubber bands, and tree branches, to get some serious stretch on…

So, if you’re reading this, municipal Tainan government, that’s some smart tax dollar spending, if you ask me.

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