Hangzhou’s Xixi Wetlands Park now China’s major eco attraction
Monday 22, April 2013
Hangzhou - located on China’s East coast in Zhejiang Province and a short 45-minute bullet train ride from Shanghai - is proving an increasingly popular draw with eco-enthusiasts and nature lovers and can also be great fun for all the family.
The Annual Fishing Festival at Hongyuan Xixi Wetlands is traditionally staged in the winter months of mid-December to mid-February. Also known as the ‘Clean the Fishpond’ annual dredging and harvest of the wetlands, this is a happy time for local families. During this period, residents and visitors don special fishing clothes (which can be rented to visitors for RMB 50 per hour) and fish the waters of the wetlands for shrimp, clams, crab, finless eel, and loach (fish) etc. which are cooked and enjoyed on the spot. Unsuccessful fisherman can resort to the Hongyuan Fish Market for the catch of the day or go to one of a selection of local restaurants in the wetlands area.
Established in 2005, the national Xixi Wetlands Park, located to the west of Hangzhou, is internationally recognized and one part of the Hangzhou Bay Wetland area which accounts for over 10% of the total area of Zhejiang province. The Zhejiang Provincial Government introduced the first wetland protection law at the end of last year to safeguard the ecology of the area including an extensive eco-system of over 150 migratory birds and aqua wildlife.
For 80 RMB per person, visitors to the park can enjoy the tranquil scenery which is particularly spectacular during the spring and autumn months when the foliage is either bursting into bloom or a myriad of rustic hues. Motor boats leave the depot with regularity (60 RMB per person) and ferry passengers through winding canals and waterways to the Jiancun village where visitors disembark and stroll past tea-houses, shops, dragon-boat museum and village square to the park exit. Energetic visitors (and especially those romantically inclined) are able to hire private row boats for a few hours for 100 RMB.
Another natural wonder unique to the area is the tidal bore of the Qiantang River which runs for nearly 300 miles through Zhejiang past Hangzhou before empting into the East China Sea. The tide rushing daily into the river mouth from the bay at 25 miles per hour can sometimes reach 30 feet in height and is the world’s largest tidal bore.
Nature lovers will also want to visit the Hangzhou Botanical Gardens at Jade Spring Hill in the northeast part of the city’s famed West Lake. Comprising nearly 700 acres, the gardens were created in 1965 to provide a combination of flora and fauna varieties for public enjoyment as well as plants for medicinal research and the study of health benefits.
Each area has designated names such as Botany Appreciation Garden (where over 5,000 plum trees grow) and Plant Resources Museum, but of particular popularity is the Bamboo Garden where the Damaozhu variety of fast-growing bamboo flourish. Throughout the gardens, the city’s flower, the sweet-smelling osmanthus blossom, is omnipresent and its perfume particularly powerful in the summer and early autumn months in periods of high humidity.
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