The Harmonious Enjoyment Garden, referred to simply as the ‘Chinese Garden’, is a gift to Jamaica from the Chinese government, situated inside the Royal Botanical Gardens (Hope Gardens) in Saint Andrew. There was no better time than Thursday January 26th to visit because the unexpected tranquility restored my spirits, one clinical rotation down and three exams later. As mentioned in my bucket list, I’ve been to the Hope Gardens countless times. I find green spaces rejuvenating in the busy heart of city life. However, the Harmonious Enjoyment Garden is new to me, and felt like another world.
Navigating through Hope Gardens
It is amazing to have walked minutes and enter such tranquility, a far cry from the boisterous peddling and horn-honking of Papine, a town five minutes away from the front entrance of Hope Gardens. Follow the only road from its entrance and you’ll come upon a small green wooden building behind the Tea House. It is here that you pay the caretakers an admission fee for the Chinese garden, a subset of the botanical gardens and hence attracting charge. Admission is $150 for adults while children pay $50 each (JMD*). From here, you can choose whether to receive an escorted tour or discover the place yourself at your own pace, which I found more enjoyable. It is open from 10am-4pm on weekdays, and 9am-5pm on weekends. However, they don’t seem to be strict with time. . . I think the Chinese garden operates on the regular botanical gardens’ time of 6am-6pm despite the sign 🤔 (considering we left it well past 5pm).
The Chinese Garden
Architecture and nature co-existing so harmoniously in a delightfully tranquil setting blew me away. The huge lotus pond flanked by grassy shores, red pagodas with Chinese ceiling murals and Asian floral species made me feel as if I had travelled much further and paid much more. I’m pretty sure the well planned out design and execution of this garden would remind any Chinese traveller or immigrant of home, despite local plants being interwoven amongst the imported species.
If nature excites you as much as it does me, you’ll need no more activity than walking from pagoda to pagoda, across a lotus garden, admiring the well-manicured flowers and shrubs, and reading signs of different monuments to pass 3 hours. Not to mention, sitting still and hearing nothing but birdsong, whistling wind and your own conversation was a refreshing change. Nonetheless, I must add that this garden would be perfect for a picnic or meditation. A young lady was practicing what looked like tai chi in one corner, and made me fleetingly wish for my yoga mat.
I enjoyed here immensely; only wish I’d gone sooner considering it has been open since August 2015. For me it’s ☆☆☆☆☆, 5 of 5 stars because the serenity, beauty and cultural symbolism, coupled with its reasonable price, made it worth the time to visit. Carrying a camera is a must! . . (or smartphone works too, haha).
Note: I featured this as #8 on my inexpensive Jamaican 2017 bucket list, dated 09/Jan/17. One place down, sixteen to go. ✌ *At the time of publishing this blog, the exchange rate of USD to Jamaican dollar (JMD) was US$1=JM$128.96.
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