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Lake adds beauty to growing area

By  Raymond Zhou (China Daily)

09:43, August 08, 2012

Clear-Moon Lake, just 20 kilometers to the southeast of downtown Changchun. The lake brings a sparkle to a 96-square-kilometer park that surrounds it.

Every city has a downtown, but not every city has a nature reserve so pristine that many wish their homes were there.

Only 20 kilometers to the southeast of downtown Changchun, capital of Jilin province, is Jingyuetan, or Clear-Moon Lake. The lake itself is only 4.3 square kilometers, but it brings a sparkle - or sparkling water to be exact - to the 96 sq km park that surrounds it. It is Asia's largest manmade forest.

The trees were planted in the early and mid-1930s after the puppet government of Manchukuo set up its capital in the city. Now, they have added a rich texture of green to the landscape. As the seasons change, the place shimmers with wondrous serenity.

However, this is also a place where sports aficionados indulge themselves. You can ski in winter and go boating in summer. An 18-hole golf course is also being expanded.

Vasaloppet, a ski event licensed from Sweden, has been held here for a decade.

On a stone obelisk imported from the Scandinavian country, one side has been carved with the names - mostly Swedish and Chinese - of competition champions.

But you do not have to be a professional athlete to enjoy the park. Most of the 1 million visitors who came here in 2011 went for something as simple as a stroll around the lake.

There are touristy places, akin to a city park, where you can wind down and take photos. But there are also wilder areas with less traffic.

The park is building a boardwalk that will eventually encircle the whole lake, extending 18 km and separating motor traffic from pedestrians and hikers.

The elderly like to come here for exercise, while some fitness-conscious citizens visit as often as three times a week.

The district government, which is awash with tax revenue from its high-tech businesses, has invested 300 to 500 million yuan ($47-79 million) into infrastructure, including the relocation of villagers who used to live in the reserve. Out of 55 villages within its parameter, 44 have relocated.

Some projects still need more funding, such as the purchase and installation of surveillance cameras. Tourists are advised to stick to the trails. Still, a few adventurous souls will go off the beaten track and sometimes get lost in the wilderness.

In addition to outdoor activities like hiking and dragon-boat racing, the area has a lot to offer for meditative types, who will love the park for its romantic aura. You can find a scene to fit every mood.



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