Sightseeing in Flowering Haigeng Park

By Ma Tongchun, a local resident and senior English-speaking tour guide with over 30 years of professional experience. In this article, Mr. Ma shares his travelogue, knowledge and memory of Haigeng Park. 

In an early morning in early March this year, I escorted Mr. Xie Chengbiao, my good friend, schoolmate of 1960s and comrade-in-arms to Haigeng Park (Dianchi Lake Dike) for sightseeing. 

At the beginning of 2015, came the good news that Kunming municipal government announced Haigeng Park ticket-free, and that means all people can go the park free for entertainment now.


We took Bus No.44 to the entrance and went directly into the park. Many people were already there. Lots of them were busy taking pictures in the bright morning sunshine, many were buying bird food to feed the seagulls which were happily flying down to enjoy their breakfast offered.

We were also busy taking photos and feeding the seagulls. We were walking along the waterfront and we found the roads were freshly reconstructed, more trees planted, flowers were more than before in variety and colors. We finished walking Haigeng Park and came to the West Concrete Dike where no flowers and trees but more seagulls because the tourists here are specially coming to buy the food to feed the lovely seagulls--the special guests to Kunming flying over 5,000km from Baikal Lake in Russia. We walked on the dike ground paved with concrete bricks and patterns of zodiac animals instructed. 

Four hours passed, we walked about 5 km and we enjoyed a lot in the park and we felt very hungry. We went to a small food shop and bought some food for lunch then we took bus again home.


My best memory of Haigeng Park
Every July 16 in the late 1960s and middle 1970s, the city government organized hundreds of thousands of people to swim at the lake in memory of Chairman Mao's swimming on Yangtze River in Wuhan City on July 16, 1966. I was one of the swimmers in 1974, 1975 and 1976.

We students often rode bikes about 15 km to the park to swim at the weekend in Summer and Autumn, the water then was clean, and even the pump stations were set to pump the water for city supply, the view was so natural in the middle 1970s.


In 1992, Dianchi Lake National Tourist Area was built and Haigeng Park was rebuilt with flower beds and corridors, and water ponds, pavilions, bridges, shops, and bars were also built and even made it better for tourists and travellers.

Now, Haigeng Park, together with newly rebuilt artificial concrete dike on the west, is a big tourist attraction where people come to go outing and hiking and watching flowers in Spring, to picnicking and partying in summer,to see the moon and enjoy the breeze in Autumn, and to see and feed seagulls in winter and early spring, it is an all year round paradise for tourists from home and abroad.

Now the then state farm is the place for Dianchi Lake National Tourist Area including Yunnan Nationalities Village, Yunnan Nationalities Museum, Hongta Gulf Course, the National Sport Training Center, Haigeng Conference Center, Super Five Star hotels, Sanatoriums, big office buildings, grand restaurants, theatres, villas, hospitals, schools and so on. 


My knowledge of Haigeng
With a long history, Haigeng (Dianchi Lake Dike) was formed by the wave work pushing the sand and mud together and building a long but narrow dike in the lake between the area of deep water and shallow water where reeds and water plants grew.


In the early Yuan Dynasty, the great Muslim Al-Sayyid Shams al-Din'Umar (1211-1279), the then governor of Yunnan Province organized the local people to build the water lock at Haikou water exit with a low water channel and the lake water lowered, and large part of the lake floor became rice land and a small part became a shallow lake which we locals call Cao Hai (grass sea). 


The sand and mud pushed by waves would get together when they met the grasses and reeds growing in the shallow water, and then a slim and long dike was slowly built up within about 300 years. When it came to the late Ming Dynasty, a nice dike appeared above water and local people called it Haigeng or Lake Dike.


The local people liked to go there for fishing, sightseeing, picnicking and watching moon. They grew mulberry, weeping willow, poplar and eucalyptus trees on both side of the dike, which made it beautiful for entertainment. A nice view called "Night Moon over Dianchi Lake" there became well-known in the Ming and Qing dynasties then. Now, we still can see trees of over hundred years old along the dike such as willows, eucalyptus, mulberry trees and so on.


In the 1960s, Haigeng Park was built, the waterfront dike was rebuilt for about 2.5 km long, 50 to 300 m wide, the swimming area was delineated in the lake area with two approach bridges, the safety poles, floats, locker rooms, lifeguard towers, hydrometric station and roller skating ground set up, and toilets, police office and so on were also built.


In the first spring of 1970s, another big dike was constructed on the west in order to build the Haigeng State Farm by pumping out water and filling earth to the shallow grass sea to reclaim the land and a huge farm of about 23 Sq km was there in only one year.

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