Like an elegant jade ornament gracing a handsome personage who, under pressure from all the harrying demands of modern life, is a little worse for wear, Green Lake Park (Cuìhú Gōngyuán, 翠湖公园) instantly reminds one of the essential beauty that persists beneath the occasional grime of modernity as Kunming barrels, along with the rest of urban China, deeper into the 21st century.
With a history than stretches back to the 17th century, the present lake is a remnant of the Kunming region's much larger and more famous lake, Dianchi. Over the centuries, falling water levels in Dianchi and civil engineering projects resulted in the small body of water which today is divided roughly into four parts by a set of dikes, traditional Chinese bridges and landscaped gardens. Willows hang over the lake waters and pavilions and pathways provide numerous spots for enjoying the scenery, relaxing, or joining locals in a spot of badminton, tai chi, casual ballroom dancing or any number of other cheery activities that typify China's parks.
One popular activity is birdwatching, especially when thousands of migratory black-headed gulls arrive for the winter from their summer home in Siberia. Chinese opera is often performed in the park, and a number of indoor-outdoor teahouses, cafés and small restaurants make Green Lake Park a fantastic spot to wander, linger, snack, rest and, in general, make the most of a day in the "City of Eternal Spring," away from the traffic and tall-block highrises that define much of the city's modern makeover.
Nearby attractions and points of interest include Yunnan University, located just to the north of the park, the Kunming Zoo and Yuantong Temple, both located on the wooded, landscaped slopes of Yuantong Hill to the east of Green Lake.
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