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COMPASS MAGAZINE > November 2008

A New Life for an Old Park

A New Life for an Old Park
Photo by Peng Ren-yi

A New Life for an Old Park


A New Life for an Old Park

Words by Jason Hu
Photos by Taichung City Government
Translated by Ann Lee

If you grew up in Taichung like I did, then you probably have a special place in your heart for the Taichung Park. Whenever I reminisce about this place, I remember its crystal-green, serene lake and the two trademark pavilions, facing the sun and the moon and located at the heart of the lake. The sweet childhood memories I have of this place run through my head as I am transported back to that time and age, when we didn't have as many materialistic privileges and saving resources was extremely necessary. Even though we didn't have much, we were content.

I am a true Taichunger; although I was not born in this city, I moved here when I was a child, graduated from high school here, and then finally went to college up north. While growing up, my siblings and friends considered the Taichung Park and its two pavilions to be the best place to hang out. On Sunday afternoons, I'd usually ride my bike to that simple, beautiful area with my sister; we'd watch the grown-ups drink tea and play chess in the shade and couples paddle around in the row boats.

My sister liked the swings on the playground and trying to catch goldfish in the pond. I enjoyed reading--usually a novel or an English vocabulary booklet--while keeping an eye on my sister and watching the throngs of youngsters play in the sunshine. Hearing their happy laughter brought a certain peace and calm, which definitely made studying my vocab much easier.

At other times, though, I'd lose interest in reading or people watching. It was then that my mind would turn inward. I'd stare into the sky or lie in the grass and watch the ever-drifting shapes of clouds in the sky. In these moments of reflection a phrase that I once read in book would come to mind. "Nothing is ever what we expected," I'd think, triggering my sentimental side again. Will the Taichung Park be just as beautiful in the future? Will there be just as many people wandering about and kids playing out here on a relaxing afternoon? What will it all be like when we're older? What will our future hold? Will be still be this happy and free? These thoughts filled my head on those days in the park.

Though I never dreamed it would happen, I've been honored to serve two terms as mayor of this wonderful town. As a tribute of sorts to the passage of time and the way things change, this year marks the 100th anniversary for those beautiful lake pavilions. This celebration really fills me with excitement and I feel a sense of happiness and peace from the bottom of my heart. I know this park well. I am familiar with the pavilions sitting at the center of the lake. They've stood and inspired generations of happiness and laughter for local residents and, luckily, there is no end in sight for them.
I really am grateful to be given this precious opportunity, this heart-warming duty, to work with my fellow city government members to rejuvenate these pavilions and make Taichung Park come to life again. Spending the time and money to give this place a face lift will ensure a place for our children and grandchildren to once again enjoy the changing clouds and serene lake that make the park a beautiful place to reminisce.

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