Thursday, 9 April 2020

Hangzhou explorations: Jiangyangfan eco-park (China)

Hi Sign Hunters!

We have lived in Hangzhou for almost eight months now, but we have certainly not got anywhere near to knowing the entire city very well yet. We have been trying to explore it as thoroughly as possible and I must admit, I think we have been doing a great job. Considering how unimaginably big this city is and how many awesome things one can visit across of it, we have managed to do a fair share of exploration already. Even if we had a hell of a lot of time, it would still take us possibly months to see everything. And now I am not talking about the most famous touristy bits! I am talking about the real Hangzhou, that one that is off the tourism track, where foreigners do not really go. That is where we go!

Our journeys never work out as planned either. In fact, most of the time, we just point out something on the map, go to the area and walk from A to B about 10-15-20 km and find random things. This is how we have found many things all over Hangzhou. One of our latest discoveries is called Eight Diagram Field, which is technically a plant growing field that is surrounded by lakes. The field has an octagonal shape though, that is where the name "eight diagram' comes from. It sits in such a beautiful environment with lots green, forest-covered hills that it has become our number one place in Hangzhou. I will definitely do a blog post about the Eight Diagram Field itself, although, we have episodes in the vlog series (A Pig in China) that you can already watch instantly on YouTube (Episode 60 and Episode 61). 

Today I will also kind of break the consistency of blog posts here as from now on, I am not only focusing on blog posts dealing with particularly settlements only. The idea is to show you more local attractions and focus on these specifically. Okay, I have definitely had similar posts before, but from now on, many of the blog posts will relate to places within the administrative boundary of Hangzhou. Since this city is so big and we spend most of our lives within the administrative limits, addressing smaller but particular areas makes more sense to me. And! Every one of the sites we visit will have their own signs too, so The Sign Hunters will not be left without signs.

In this post, I am going to show you photos of Jiangyangfan (or Jiang Yang Fan), which is an eco park not far west from the Eight Diagram Field. We, of course, found it accidentally when we were out for a spontaneous walk exploring the area. All this happened on the 4th April 2020, when there was a Chinese national holiday called Qingming Festival or Tomb-sweeping day in English. The festival normally lasts for three days and during these days families visit cemeteries, clean and sweep of graves and remembering ancestors. On this particular day, we wanted to walk from Eight Diagram Field to West Lake, but at the starting location, we found ourselves in crowds of people. The reason for this was also interesting: there is a massive cemetery near the park site. Since the road we wanted to take was blocked, we had to alter the route and the programme, so we went off track once again. The outcome of the re-route was, however, positive as in the southwest vicinity of West Lake, we spontaneously discovered this fantastic place of Jiangyangfan. I found a website (click here) which explains it really well what this place is all about and how it came to life, so I have borrowed some information from that page. Here it comes: 

For Hangzhou, West Lake is the most valuable natural and cultural heritage. However, siltation is the most severe natural problem that the lake faces, which requires the lake being dredged every few years. In history, dredging silt was mostly piled in or around the lake, and formed many famous sight spots, such as three islands in the lake, Bai Causeway, Su Causeway and Yanggong Causeway. In 1999, city government conducted a significant dredging project, and this relatively remote valley, located at the south foot of Yuhuangshan Hill, was dammed and utilised as a silt reservoir. 10 years later, the favourable micro-climatic conditions made this secluded place changed greatly, and the site became a lush woods swamp, and the habitat of some insects, birds and small mammals.

Jiangyangfan is indeed the swamping process of an artificial lake. From the original water surface to aquatic plants germination, to the water tolerant trees’ rooting and sprouting, and to the today’s woodlands swamp with a small pond, these changes reveal the natural succession process and the awesome power of nature. Ecological Park should reflect this power and guide people to understand and respect it, and establish a harmonious relationship between man and nature.

There is some more information on that page, so, check it out if you are interested (click here). But now, enjoy some of my photos! Depending on how many times we will go back to this beautiful place on Earth, I will try and add new photos to this post in the future. Keep an eye on our news-feed and social media platforms.

~ Laszlo

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© All photos were taken by Laszlo Bokor (2020). The Sign Hunters, all rights reserved.

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