(The Jakarta Post)-Jakarta has long been criticized for its lack of public parks where people can spend time and refresh themselves on weekends after work or as a proper place for children to play.
It's no surprise to see people flock to the few "decent" parks in Jakarta such as Ayodya Park and Martha Tiahahu Park in South Jakarta last weekend.
Visitors voiced their hope that the city administration would create more public spaces so they had more places to spend weekends economically.
The 7,500-square-meter Ayodya Park opened in March last year by Governor Fauzi Bowo after flower and pet vendors, who have occupied the area since the 1970s, were evicted.
The park boasts a pond and a fountain, and has become a key alternative for residents to pass the long weekend without spending too much money.
Some came in groups or simply with their partners and sat on benches surrounding the pond.
Ria, a sales assistant at a department store at nearby Blok M Plaza, came to Ayodya with her boyfriend after finishing her shift, "to relax a bit and enjoy an affordable date" with her boyfriend.
"I often come here after work or on weekends. I'm grateful to have this beautiful and clean park that can become a place for us to date," she said. "We usually spend our dates at home."
Hanifah, a housewife from Cipulir, came with her neighbors. She said they were visiting another neighbor at the Pertamina Hospital and decided to spend some time at the park.
If Ayodya Park is visited both by dating couples and families, Martha Tiahahu Park is filled mostly by teenagers who came in groups or in couples.
"Parks are an alternative place for us to relax. It doesn't take much money *to spend time here*," Yudhistira, a visitor, said.
Magdalena, who works at a shoe company, said parks could also double as meeting points.
"While waiting for my friend, I can enjoy the fresh air while, at the same time, refresh my mind from stressful thoughts," she said.