I came across this most magical of places by accident, as I seem to do with the majority of the things I love in life. What can I say, except to lift Paulo Coelho’s romantic idea from The Alchemist: “Maktub”.
The Chinese Garden of Friendship!
I set off one afternoon, stopping by at Emperor’s Puffs for a snack on my way. I thought it was apt – a Chinese snack before a Chinese garden. What are Emperor’s puffs you ask?
Well, only the most iconic little bonbon you can get in Sydney’s China Town. It’s an institution and the lines snaking around the narrow street are testament to the cream puff’s goodness. Served from 12pm to 9pm, be clever and pick a time when people are likely to be at work or school. Oh and don’t pop them in your mouth whole and chomp down – they’re frickin’ HOT!! My burned tongue has so many horror stories to tell.
So three cream puffs (and a couple of barbecue pork buns) down, I made my way to Darling Quarter where this little haven of a garden is situated. Right next to the bustling Darling Harbour and with new construction happening all around, it really is a bit of peace and quiet amidst the chaos.
I find Far Eastern aesthetics fascinating, their attention to detail, the intricacy with which every element is gathered, joined, juxtaposed and displayed. It inspires me! This was what Bali did to me as well, if you remember. I was mesmerised there, as I was here. My mother back home, who has been saying she’ll visit someday suddenly declared that she wants to come here ASAP and go to this garden when I sent her some photos.
<<Warning>>: If you have ornithophibia, stay away. There are ibis everywhere, they have their nests in the trees all around. However, they are also harmless, only interested if you have any food. BUT there are small, over-protective birds that swoop down on your heads if it’s egg-hatching season. I kid you not, I nearly lost the hair off the top of my head.
While wandering around, rather quickly as it was nearly closing time, I snapped over a hundred photos. I surprised myself too, except every little thing here is photo worthy. And I have vowed to go back better prepared, with more time to spare, so I can soak in some culture, slowly…, sipping on some Chinese tea in the Teahouse.
The really magical thing is that once you have crossed the threshold, it is very difficult to remember that you are in the middle of a very busy city. Time slows; the steel, glass and concrete monsters a few metres beyond the walls melt away. It’s just the beautiful trees, buildings, flowing streams, bubbling waterfalls and birds. Oh, and a few people, but you won’t really notice them either.
I shall leave my words here and let my pictures do the rest of the talking. If you’re in Sydney and haven’t been here yet, shame on you! And for those planning a visit soon, you MUST add this to your bucket list.