In most cities, as development gathers pace, finding sizeable green lungs within the city limits can be a difficult task indeed. In fact, it would not be surprising to find green lungs within the city limits fast becoming amongst the most sought after locations for the development of a new condominium complex or a new spanking 5-star hotel.
But in the city of Johor Bahru (JB), the residents of the city (JBians?) are still lucky in that there are still many green lungs available within the city limits. And with the city’s development holistically planned and well documented, these green lungs will be expected to be around for many more years to come.
In JB, one of these green lungs is Taman Merdeka or Merdeka Park. Taman Merdeka can also be loosely translated as Independence Park, which I believe is more apt of a translation, with so many of the murals and landmarks dotting the park making reference to events celebrating the struggle for independence, the independence itself and thus, self-determination from the British colonial power.
The park itself is not that big in size, as compared with JB’s very own Hutan Bandar (where Jazz Corner gets staged every Friday night, as per my earlier post), or KL’s Taman Titiwangsa or Taman Tasik (KL being short for Kuala Lumpur), and hence is convenient enough for couples on a jogging date to show the other how “fit” they are without getting embarrassed by the speed they got left behind by the other as well as by the other joggers.
It is also of the right size to reassure brisk walkers that the end of the circuit is always in sight, no matter how ‘brisk’ their walk may be and hence, no unnecessary stress to be had.
Whether it is jogging or brisk walking that you do, three laps around the park should do the trick, that is generating enough sweat to impress other park goers that you are actually there to do something about improving your health and after which to pose one yourself, asking the unspoken question, a challenge in itself, ‘what about you?’.
Yes, three laps should very much so do the trick, without injuring yourself or your dignity and self pride in the process that is.
However, should the three laps proved to be a bit of struggle, not to worry. Who’s counting anyway? Not that young couple sitting on the grass by the English style garden at Laman Peringatan Sultan Abu Bakar (literally translated as Sultan Abu Bakar Memorial Lawn). They seem to be engrossed in their own little world. Neither is the elderly couple who seems to have not a care in the world except to have a nice and relaxing evening stroll around the park.
And as with most parks, a significant body of water takes centre stage in Taman Merdeka (or Independence Park). The water is brownish in most places, unfortunately, with lots of water lilies dotting the water’s surface.
By the water’s edge, you will find an open air auditorium where park goers get treated to live music on weekends courtesy of the City Council’s very own musical band (talented bunch they are too!), a kiddie pool where mums and dads take turns keeping a watching eye on their brood who seems intent having fun playing water games, a mini English park namely Laman Peringatan Sultan Abu Bakar, a jogging circuit, a mini square lined with flags of the state of Johor and a watch tower (should get a good view of the park from up there).
As mentioned earlier, Taman Merdeka is not that big a park. But it’s just big enough for park goers to do their thing, get acquainted with one another, with enough pitstops to rest their tired limbs, catch their breath or just to enjoy the view or the evening breeze. What more can you ask for?
Date : 18 February 2013