NOT far from the foot of the magnificent Great Wall on the outskirts of Beijing, lies a new park with more than 100 botanical pavilions.
Stretching across 503ha, this is the venue for the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 (Beijing Expo 2019) – the latest attraction in the Chinese capital.
Publicity chief of the exhibition, Chui Yong, said the exhibition is a display of power, beauty and wisdom of plants while creating awareness among the people on the importance of greening.
“When this place opens to the public on April 29, there will be some 50,000 species of trees and plants here,” he said as he took a group of Asian journalists for a tour around the park recently.
Apart from more than 40 species of famous Chinese flowers, such as peony, lotus, orchid, Chinese rose and camellia, the exhibition also displays a variety of unique flowering plants, including more than 40 new species from around the world.
Visitors also get a chance to view more than 100 rare and endangered species of plants.
Some 16 million visitors are expected at the expo, themed “Building a Beautiful Home Featuring Harmonious Existence between Man and Nature”.
Chui emphasised that green technologies and ecology techniques were widely used in the construction and design of the park.
“We hope to create an environment where man and nature co-exist in harmony as well as to promote the development of ecological civilisation.
“The main pavilions are installed with photovoltaic glass panels and rainwater collection system,” said Chui, adding that the water, which is stored underground, would be used for irrigation.
Located in Yanqing district, the Beijing Expo 2019 site is about 10km from the Badaling section of the Great Wall and 15km from the venue of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
One of the highlights would be China’s Ruyi Pavilion, where the Chinese would showcase their horticulture history, latest products and research achievements in the industry, said the bureau’s deputy director-general Ye Dahua.
“The design of the curved exhibition hall is inspired by the splendour of ruyi. This is a way the Chinese show our hospitality, wishing the visitors forever happiness and good fortune,” he said.
Ruyi is a type of sceptre used by the royal family in the ancient days as decoration or in ceremonies.
The international exhibition hall is another building worth visiting.
Its roof is built by connecting 94 pieces of materials in the shape of an umbrella and flower petal, hence it is known as “The Ocean of Umbrellas and Flowers”.
Not far away is the colourful multi-purpose Guirui theatre, built in the shape of a gigantic butterfly. It is named after the nearby Guirui River where a village of the same name was located thousands of years ago.
The Chinese character gui resembles a woman walking an elephant while the ancient word rui indicates where two rivers meet, explained Chui.
Legend has it that some wild elephants had entered the village, destroying the people’s homes and crops but they were eventually tamed by a brave woman. That was how the word gui was created.
Strolling down the beautiful gardens and marvellous landscape, the eye-catching Yongning Ge – an ancient Chinese architectural tower – stood as a welcoming landmark for visitors.
This is the highest point of the park that enables tourists to oversee the whole expo site.
The name Yongning means peaceful and stable, indicating that the people are enjoying a good life, Chui said.
Apart from these, the park also houses a horticultural ancient town, built according to the ancient Anhui town, a botanical garden with a huge greenhouse filled with 101 types of plant species and the international garden where dozens of countries showcase their distinctive cultures with plants and flowers.
So far, 110 countries and international organisations have confirmed their participation at Beijing Expo 2019, the highest attendance in the expo’s history.
Most of the participating nations are from Asia including Myanmar, Nepal, South Korea, North Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan and India.
Other countries that have hosted the event are Holland, UK, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, Italy, Austria, Thailand, Belgium, Taiwan and Turkey.
Beijing Expo 2019 will end on Oct 7. The tickets are priced between 80 yuan (RM50) and 160 yuan (RM100) each.