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Heavenly Suzhou becomes lotus land
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Suzhou is known for the perfection of its royal pavilion gardens. And soon it will become known for its lotuses - Buddhism's sacred flower and symbol of purity and perfection.

The newly opened Lotus Wetland Park covers 133 hectares and features more than 150 species of lotus plants from around the world. The first phase of the part has been completed; the entire project will be China's largest lotus park.

Walking along an elevated path, visitors can see blooming plants in many colors and shapes. One African lotus draws crowds. Its leaf measures two meters in diameter. What's more surprising, a child weighing 23 kilograms can actually stand on it and dance.

The lotus is especially beloved in Asia and has long been valued by Chinese as its beautiful flowers emerge from the mud murky water, symbolizing purity and overcoming adversity. The best viewing period is April through November.

If you miss the lotus season, don't worry: the park holds a chrysanthemum festival every autumn. More than 100,000 pots of varied chrysanthemums will be on display.

After completion, the lotus parkland will include an ecology science center, a water activities entertainment area, nongjiale (happy farmers' life) where you can stay with a family, and a shopping mall.

If you go: Take Huning Expressway and get off at Xiangcheng exit. Drive straight ahead on Xiangcheng Avenue to Taiyang Road, head west for approximately two kilometers, and you are there.

(Shanghai Daily November 19, 2007)

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