Photo Essay: Finding Refuge in City Parks

Jennifer Baljko, Barcelona. 
18 March 2018

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.

In between congested Asian city sidewalks, we found ourselves pulled into urban green spaces.

We walked many treeless roads from Bangkok, Thailand to Samsun, Turkey. On our weekly rest days, when we rambled into cities and found a hotel room where we could sleep in a bed and hang our laundry, we sought out those quiet giants.

This walk we’re on is shifting our preferences.

Before 2016, we would leave our backpacks in the hostel and, with explore-the-world enthusiasm, we would hurry around to see the main sites, the buildings worth seeing, the local hangouts, the things guidebooks recommended.

Now, with greater frequency, we gravitate towards open spaces, parks, and other places where we could get our much-needed dose of flowers, trees and green things. We crave stillness and reprieve in the cities we find ourselves in.

Here are a few of the parks, green spots and bursts of nature we found along the way and remember with fondness. They have helped silence the noise we typically hear when walking through urban areas.

All  photos courtesy of Bangkok to Barcelona on Foot.

While we were in Bangkok mapping our route and getting our visa for Myanmar, we went for frequent walks around Lumphini Park, a big city park ringed with palm trees and high-rise buildings.
Sirijit Park is the biggest public park in Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand. Like many parks in Thailand, public exercise equipment is a fixture here as well.
After a busy day in the pulsing city of Yangon, Burma, it was nice to have a few minutes in Maha Bandula Park. It where locals have been coming to sit on the grass since 1867 when the swampy land was converted to a public recreation ground.
We don’t remember the name of this park we stumbled into in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but it was a much needed moment of relaxation away from the traffic we could barely get around in this overcrowded capital city.
Being in the Wakhan Valley in the Pamir region of Tajikistan was like strolling through a park every day. Walking alongside some of the world’s most majestic mountains remains among our sweetest memories of our Bangkok to Barcelona journey.
The shady pedestrian passageways in downtown Dushanbe, Tajikistan invite locals and visitors to take it easy. They reminded us of similar middle-of-street green-canopied walkways in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
“Why would you stay in a hotel?” an Iranian woman asked us. “You can just camp in one of the parks. It’s no problem. Everyone does it.” We were tempted a few times to pitch our tents in one of the many parks we found in Iran, but on the few occasions when we needed to camp we found camp spots out of public view.
While the seaside promenade in Batumi, Georgia pulses with kitsch touristic restaurants and bars, the park hugging the coastline was where we found our traveling joy.
In Turkey, like in Iran, roadside picnicking is a common sight and municipalities have set up areas where people can break out their picnic baskets. We made good use of these green areas along the shoulder to have lunch along the way and to admire the Black Sea.
Cities along Turkey’s Black Sea have converted their waterfront areas into parks and promenades. Here in Samsun they have a creative way of hiding functional electricity buildings in one of its parks. Perhaps they see open spaces as a gift to their residences? We certainly do.

Jennifer Baljko
Bangkok to Barcelona on Foot

On The Nature of Cities

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Baljko

About the Writer:
Jennifer Baljko

Jennifer Baljko is an avid traveler, longtime walker and a lifetime learner. She’s a city dweller who recently became a tree hugger (literally, she throws her arms around trees and hugs them), but feels at home almost anywhere.

Jennifer Baljko

Jennifer Baljko

Jennifer Baljko is an avid traveler, longtime walker and a lifetime learner. She’s a city dweller who recently became a tree hugger (literally, she throws her arms around trees and hugs them), but feels at home almost anywhere. She is blogging about her latest trip at bangkokbarcelonaonfoot.com.

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