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A local retreat: purple bamboo park

Updated: 2011-05-30 15:21
By Angela Pruszenski ( CRIENGLISH.com)
A local retreat: purple bamboo park

A variety of pleasure boats are available for rent at the lakeside in Purple Bamboo Park. [Photo/CRIENGLISH.com]

 

A local retreat: purple bamboo park

The Purple Bamboo Park's gardens are dotted with stone walking paths. [Photo/CRIENGLISH.com]

 

A local retreat: purple bamboo park

The Purple Bamboo Park is an admission-free escape from the city heat in Beijing's Haidian District. [Photo/CRIENGLISH.com]

  

The Purple Bamboo Park (Zizhuyuan) is a cool respite in northwestern Beijing's Haidian district for those seeking a refreshing walk without the hassle of visiting a popular tourist site.

Covering 14 hectares near Beijing Zoo and National Library, Purple Bamboo Park is one of the seven largest parks in Beijing. The park encompasses 3 lakes and a canal that runs to the Summer Palace. The lakes are connected by a series of bridges and little islands dotted with benches and plenty of shade provided by an abundance of trees. The garden paths and lakeside benches are well-kept and the park is almost litter free.

The lakes served as a reservoir for the city's water supply during the 13th century, and the park was a favorite destination for city dwellers marking the "Pure Brightness" festival (Qingming) during the Ming dynasty. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the park was renovated and re-opened with its current crop of lush bamboo, scenic lakes and garden paths.

As its name suggests, the park is home to several bamboo gardens and over 50 varieties of bamboo can be found here.

Locals are especially fond of this park, making it a great location for foreigners to practice their Chinese. On the garden paths groups of elderly Beijing residents gather to play cards or mahjong. There's enough open space that small bands regularly set up to play for ballroom dancers.

The lakeside is a more restful retreat; here, visitors are more likely to find people relaxing on benches, blankets or fishing. Around the lakes mid-afternoon snacks can be taken in the teahouse and small concessions.

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