on February 22, 2006
Xiamen Botanical Gardens, also known as Wanshi and 10,000 Stones Garden, covers some 227 hectares. The gardens contain more than 4000 species of tropical and subtropical plants, spread among more than 20 nurseries. A map provided at the entrance indicates the main roads and paths within the park. Some of the popular sightseeing areas include: Conifer Forest, Epiphytes forest, Bamboo forest, Tropical forest, Stone forest, Cactus Garden, Herb Garden, Rose Garden, and an Orchid Garden.I was amazed to walk into a forest so dense in palms and ferns, cross a bridge, and suddenly be surrounded by evergreens. The forests are so thick you don’t realize what is next to it until you are in the middle of the next one. A large reservoir, bordered by the bamboo forest, contains a zigzag walkway and an arched bridge that lead to an island of huge rocks in the middle of the lake.The epiphyte forest had a variety of bromeliads growing between the Y of tree branches, and in knotholes and orchids growing in the deep crevices of the bark. The stone forest contains the much-photographed Taiping Laughing Stone. A long, thin stone fell onto a large boulder, making it look as though it is laughing. Many of the large boulders have Chinese inscriptions on them.One of the best things about this park is that there will also be something in bloom, whether it is the orchids, the roses, or the cactus. The temperate climate of this areas means that more likely than not, there will blooms in several areas.A main road leads up a mountain to Heaven Border Temple. Here, the monks once would strike the bell every morning, 108 times. Unfortunately, I could not find out the significance of 108 strikes. Continuing beyond this temple are several scenic spots until you reach Camel Peak Summit. Here you can enjoy views of nearby mountains, a cable car, and the Xiamen skyline. Take the path along the fence on the return and you will be rewarded with more views, and some humorous ‘foot steps’ as indicated by my photograph.There are several nice tea gardens to stop at, as well as a food court where you sit outside under one of the umbrellas, or along the stream. A nearby playground keeps the children amused if you wish to linger after dining. The park is open from 6am to 6:30pm, and has an entrance fee of 40Y. A full parking lot, and several tour buses, are an indication of the popularity of the park. Fortunately, the size keeps you from feeling crowded.A good asphalt road for cars, as well as pedestrian use, makes this park accessible for handicapped persons. Pathways from the main road are even cement walkways that pass by forests and temples. Only the temples on the top of the hill via steeps steps would be inaccessible. Outdoor restaurants make dining easy as well.
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