The Chinese Garden of Friendship is yin to the yang of the city. Situated between Darling Harbour promenade and Chinatown, visitors are transformed from city workers into contemplative monks as they pass through the moon gate just inside the entrance.
Cobble stoned paths and graceful paved staircases mimic traditional chinese landscapes, topped by timeless pagodas. As such, the gardens are not friendly to people with limited mobility.
Gazing into the koi-filled ponds from a rail-less bell-curve shaped bridge, thoughts secede into reflection. It is testament to the design of the gardens that this is possible. Trees and walls have been placed in such a way that the city beyond is only a memory.
Set aside around an hour to fully enjoy the gardens. The paths can wind back on themselves and often you will find yourself having an encore experience of that-lovely-little-waterfall.
If you have time and money (both often lacking for me) enjoy a cup of tea at the terminal pagoda. The gardens here have been designed for closer examination to complement the longer duration spent here.
There are lots of animals and a small population of eastern water dragons inhabit this microcosmic space. You have to look for them as they can be nearly invisible whilst bathing in ectothermal bliss. Before you go to put your hand on a rock, take a second look for a lizard and if you are lucky maybe pull out the iphone for a facebook profile pic.