Lianhua Mountain Park is at the northern end of the CBD axis. One of Shenzhen’s most beautiful and peaceful parks, it is recommended if you are looking for a 1-2 hour walk in verdant, tropical surroundings. When you reach the top of the mountain, at the end of a gently sloping path, the reward is an exceptional view that encompasses the span of Shenzhen.
The park consists of 166 ha. of urban bushland with forests, a lake and paths through garden beds. It is shaped like a lotus flower, thus the name Lianhua means lotus flower in Chinese. The site rises gently to Lianhua Mountain, 300 metres above the roads below. At the top of the mountain is a large bronze statue of Deng Xiaoping in an overcoat
seemingly striding towards the city.
Getting to the top to see Deng and the vista down through the axis of the CBD is obviously the end object of any visit to Lianhua Park. There is a hard way and an easy way. The hard way involves climbing 342 steps to be greeted by the statue looming at the top. You don’t have to be super-fit to make it to the top, but you do see the odd person fallen by the wayside as you climb up. The easy way is a much longer but gentler climb up a road that winds around the back of the mountain through beautiful stands of bauhinia and eucalyptus. It is almost impossible as you climb through the forests to believe that you are in the centre of one of the world’s biggest cities. Just before you reach the top, there is a building housing an exhibition of Shenzhen’s town planning, of which more below. Make sure that you give yourself half an hour or so to see this fascinating exhibition.
At the top of the mountain is the square containing the statue itself. We were fortunate many years ago to meet Deng Xiaoping and remember him as an impressive person, but of minimal physical stature, so the 20 ft. high statue came as something of a surprise. At the back of the statue is an inscription in Deng’s own calligraphy extolling the correctness of the policy of supporting Shenzhen’s growth. On the base of the statue is an inscription, dated National Day 2000, in the school boyish calligraphy of then-President Jiang Zemin, saying simply Comrade Deng Xiaoping. Flowers are always in place in front of the statue. This reflects the great respect that ordinary Shenzhen people have for Deng. An odd thing is that, especially in the early morning, you will often see people worshipping the statue. Even odder is that these people are not peasants, in fact they are much more likely to be in office dress.
[Insider tip: You cannot get up close to the statue with one exception, if you want to pay your respects and snap an up close picture with Deng’s statue bring flowers. With flowers in hand, the guard at the statue will allow you through the ropes guarding the monument so that you will be able to place the flowers at its base. ]
From this vantage point there is a magnificent vista right through the Civic Centre Building to the Exhibition Centre and there are always plenty of people with cameras photographing it.
And then we go down again. The sweat is pouring off us. We see family groups labouring up and nary a drop falling from their noses. How do they do it? People sit in groups in small lay-bys among the trees laughing and chatting. A woman steps out of the trees and earnestly presses a piece of paper into our hands. She is one of several Christian groups that inhabit the park and she is offering us salvation. As our heart pounds and the sweat drips from our nose we feel that the need for this may be near. We diverge from the main path and descend steeply to the lake. It is early June and the deep pink of waving lotuses assaults our senses. We stop for a moment and contemplate the perfectly round drops of water sitting on the leaves.
The sound of music is in the air. Among the trees a lone erhu player is emitting a mournful tune. In the distance we can faintly hear more martial tunes. We follow the sound to a small pavilion by the lake. A crowd is gathered. They appear to be aged fifties and sixties and are pounding out songs from the Cultural Revolution with great gusto. We marvel at the forms which nostalgia takes. Nearby on a grassy clearing two burly men, naked from
the waist up, are laying into each other violently with bamboo staves. Around a corner, deep green bamboo overhanging a shaded grove. Japanese dance music. Middle-aged couples are spinning around waltzing. And they’re good!
Address: Futian Central area, Hong Li West Rd.
Metro: Shao Nian Gong on lines 3 and 4.
Bus No. 25 from Shenzhen Railway Station. Bus stop is Lian hua shan gong yuan.
SHENZHEN CITY PLANNING EXHIBITION
Just before the top of Lianhua Mountain, on the left as you walk up the slope, you’ll see a squat concrete building which is the Shenzhen City Planning Exhibition. It’s worth a visit if you’re into town planning. We aren’t aware of any other places on earth where you can see an official vision of such an enormous city that has been realized.
The exhibits cover the development of the city from the earliest days in 1979 to the present day. There is a model of the Futian City Centre and it’s been fun watching new things that are included in the model gradually appearing in real life. The text is only in Chinese but the exhibits speak for themselves.
Don’t forget to touch the hand of the miniature model of the Deng Xiaoping statue for luck.