Charlie and I have arrived in LuoDong, the small township on the east coast of Taiwan where we will be teaching for the next year. We’re staying with two other Native Speaking Teachers (NSTs), Brad and Laura, whose apartment overlooks LuoDong Sports Park. Being occasionally interested in that kind of physical running abouty type thing, I was super keen to make the most of the sunshine and have a look around.
First off, I noticed that the Sports Park is vast. It contains a full sized rugby pitch, a baseball stadium (not even kidding, stands and everything), numerous basketball courts, tennis courts, an outdoor pool just shy of Olympic size a three-hundred meter clay running track, a croquet field and even a grass bowls lawn.
But more impressive than the sheer size of the place is the relentless commitment the place has to being soothing. There are numerous springs that feed into streams that trickle between rocks into a lake that is filled with carps the size of small sharks. The whole water area is criss-crossed with wooden bridges, stepping stones, or man-made islands that are ideally sized for a picnic, or a bingjiling break (Chinese for ice cream). Classical music gently plays from loudspeakers and elderly folks gave us directions on how best to cross a particularly hazardous stream. We stopped for a whole five minutes to check out a Chinese red-bellied squirrel, clearly related to but distinct from the grey kind we get back home. There is a mound built for skygazing, from which you can supposedly see Turtle Island in the distance, lovingly adorned with English sign-posts that make little to no sense.
LuoDong Sports Park is the perfect antidote the the twelve hour a day, six days a week working schedule that many Taiwanese people smilingly endure. But even on a sunny Sunday, the park was sparesly populated, and on the walk home I noticed students heading into the seemingly never closing school instead of towards the park…