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Interview with Wang Pengshan - Chief of Zhongshan Scenic Area Administration Bureau

Wang Pengshan in his office

Zhongshan Scenic Area (ZSA for short) is a “5A” National Forest Park in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.

Zhongshan Scenic Area covers a large area. Can you give us an outline of what is included within the greater “Zhongshan Scenic Area”?

The area is 31 square kilometers in total.
 
There are three main scenic areas within:
Ming Tomb – The focal point of this area is the Ming Tomb but even in here there is quite a bit more than just the tomb. Plum Blossom Hill and Zixia Lake for example.
Zhongshan Mausoleum – Another burial place, this is a piece of history from the beginning of the Republic of China.
Linggu Temple – A place to experience Buddhist culture.
 
There are six types of culture you can experience here:
- The culture of the six dynasties for which Nanjing was the capital of China.
- Ming Dynasty era culture (600 years ago).
- Republic of China era culture.
- Appreciation of "water, mountain, city and forest".
- Culture of relaxation. The park is known as a good place to just relax and enjoy yourself.
- Buddhist culture. Linggu Temple is a world fanous Buddhist site.

 

Overall, ZSA is a world class park with a lot to offer.

What do you think foreign travelers think about ZSA and Nanjing before they arrive?

I guess they would think it’s a mysterious place. Nanjing is an ancient capital city. China is a place that was quite backwards during the Qing Dynasty, and closed to the world for a good part of the 20th century. I do know that before they arrive here, they won’t have a comprehensive understanding of China.

How would you recommend foreign travelers fit Nanjing and ZSA into their trip to China?

First of all, a trip to ZSA should be seen as part of a trip to Nanjing. Nanjing is a window into Chinese culture and, from my point of view, if you want to understand China, you have to understand Nanjing. A trip to Nanjing also gives visitors to China a chance to experience a modern Chinese city.

Nanjing should be made an important destination in their trip to China. Besides ZSA there’s also Qinghuai River, The Presidential Palace, Yuejiang Lou, Mochou Lake, Xuanwu Lake, etc, etc. – There are so many places to see here. It should take at least 3 days to tour Nanjing but it would be easy to spend 5 days in Nanjing if you wanted to understand it a bit deeper.

Also, Nanjing is a good point to make side-trips to nearby areas such as Yellow Mountain which is 5 hours away, Hangzhou which is 3 or 4 hours away on the road or Yangzhou which is only 1 hour away. Laya Temple in Quzhou is also not far away. It’s another National Forest Park with over 1000 years of history.

When in Nanjing, it should take at least 1 day to tour Purple Mountain.

This is a “5A” scenic area. What does that mean?

Just this year our status was upgraded from 4A to 5A. It represents our status as an important cultural/historical tourist attraction. In China, there aren’t many National Forest Parks so close to the city. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the best areas in China and a world-class scenic area.

It has won many awards within China and the Ming Tomb is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Are there any yearly festivals held in ZSA?

International Plum Blossom Festival is held each year around the spring festival (Chinese New Years). The Plum Blossom Hill has over 100 different types of plum trees which sprout over 50,000 plum blossoms. It’s the best place to see plum blossoms in the whole world. We look at them as representing the universal love of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

There’s also the osmanthus flower (桂花) festival during the end of September and beginning of October. There is a saying in China that goes “when the osmanthus flowers open, rich people will arrive.”  There aren’t many places in China where you can see this many osmanthus flowers together. You can see them all over ZSA but their especially concentrated in the Linggu Temple area.

Another festival is Ming Xiaoling (Ming Tomb) Culture Festival. It’s about promoting traditional culture and protecting historical relics.

What has been done to protect culture relics of the ZSA?

In 1961 Ming Xiaoling was declared a cultural protection area by the Chinese state council. Protecting culture has been one of the five main tasks for the ZSA administration. Some areas that were previously open to cars are now only open for pedestrians. Some damaged items have been refurbished.

How do you promote yourselves to foreign visitors?

Well, the truth is we haven’t done enough to promote ourselves to foreigners.  We should be running online promotions as well as co-operating with foreign travel companies. I’m glad Synotrip can help us reach some foreigners too.

Is there anything else you would like foreign travelers to know?

“Culture is the spirit of travel” – This phrase is fit for ZSA. In ZSA visitors can experience Chinese culture and history in the setting of a huge national park which in turn is inside a great modern city of China.

 

More Information

Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum
Ming Tomb Scenic Area
   UNESCO - Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties
Linggu Temple