We’re discovering more and more of what is near us here in Songshan Lake. It is, among other things, considered a tourist area. We haven’t yet found any tourist information about the area in English, so I’m relying on my daughter translating what we find in Chinese, or what we can find online and translate.
Taohuayuan or Peach Flower Park is a short distance from us. It took Leah and I about 15-20 minutes on my electric scooter to get there. While most of the area around Songshan Lake is free, to enter this park, there was a 20rmb/$3usd entry charge for adults.
Most people seemed to arrive on bicycles, although cars are able to drive to this point. There seemed to be some type of blocked off area where you could park your bicycles and have them guarded, but we just parked our scooter in the area next to it (And it was still there when we finished !). There is a small store for drinks, snacks, noodles or hot dogs, and tables to sit and eat. There were also public restrooms.
The large stone gate is quite impressive with four lion statues standing guard on the top.
Past the gate was the small ticket booth (with information in English). Once you entered, there was a sign in both Chinese and English showing directions to different areas of the park. Straight ahead was the main path heading through the Bamboo Wishing Grove. They had mist machines which gave it a rather mystical atmosphere. Other paths led off on both sides.
Heading straight, we crossed the Wishing Bridge and reached the Yuelao, or “Joking” Square, as the sign read. Here you could see the Wishing trees and the “Joking” Statue. Read about Wishing Trees in my "Picture of the Day" post from 3-8-16.
The plaque here explained that the statue was the matchmaker from Chinese folklore. “Joker” didn’t seem to be the right translation, so I checked online and found the following:
“The Matchmaker, or Yue Lao (literally means the old man in the moon), is the god who unites persons in marriage in a Chinese legend that originated in Tang Dynasty. The figure later became a widely known image of immortal. As the legend goes, the matchmaker holds a book in his hands called "the book of fate", on which the marriage of all people are recorded. Also in his hands there is a red strand, and once he ties a man and a woman on their feet with the strand, the two will surely become a couple even if they were once irreconcilable enemies or strangers far away from each other. There is a folk custom in China to make statues of the matchmaker and build temple to pray for blessings.” Quoted from http://traditions.cultural-china.com/en/13Traditions340.html
This explains the many red ribbons tied on the book he holds!
We continued on to head up the stairs to the pavilion. On our way, we walked through the Peach Flower Valley: Rows and rows of peach trees in full blossom! Quite beautiful!
As we climbed the stairs, we could see more and more of the lake. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day and not so clear, but we could see where we lived in the distance!
Once we reached the Wind Pavilion, I was slightly disappointed because the surrounding trees blocked quite a bit of what could have been a great view. The building itself was just a bare pavilion…not even any benches to sit on! So we didn’t stay long but headed back down the path to go the opposite direction to the Maitreya or Laughing Buddha statue.
We continued to see red ribbons tied along the paths where ever they could be tied to! I’m not quite sure how people got some of them where they were! I read in one place that the belief is that the higher the ribbon is, the better chance of your wish making it to the gods.
When we reached the Buddha, there were a number of men there burning incense, but just casually standing around talking. I was happy to see that there was a clear view on all sides of the hill and enjoyed seeing the surrounding areas. The Buddha statue is a Laughing Buddha holding a string of beads, which (I found out online) is symbolic of a meditating monk, the beads representing “pearls of wisdom.” Depending what a statue holds, they have different meanings.
Here, there were also many red ribbons tied, and a nice view of the Wind Pavilion on the next hill. I liked the following picture so played with it some for a unique look. Because this hill with the Buddha was open, the ribbons on the trees were all blowing in the wind.
We walked back down the hill, explored some lake areas to one side and then a Goldfish Pond on the other side. Near the Goldfish Pond was the statue of Nanhai Guanyin. This is a goddess also called Tianhou, a goddess of seamen. These statues had the name Xu Hongfei, from the Guanzhou Sculpture Academy, on them, so I’m guessing he was the sculptor, although that was not clearly stated. If you’ve followed my “Picture A Day” posts, he is also the sculptor of the “Chubby Women” series around the lake.
I think the look of the park probably changes with the seasons. There was a creek area that was completely dry, but I’m sure would be nice after the rainy season. There were some water lilies in the ponds, but I expect come warmer weather there will be many more. All together, we wandered around the park for almost four hours, and although we covered the main areas, there are a large amount of paths around the outlying areas that we’ll have to go explore another day!