The Green Lake (翠湖) is a park – a lake, flowers, trees – lying in the heart of the crowded city of Kunming. It’s always been a popular meeting place; the older generation taking their traditional stroll after dinner, hoping for a long life; couples enjoying the seclusion of the trees; children flying kites and eating snacks. At weekends choirs crowd around the small pagodas, practising traditional songs.
Since 1985 every year Siberian seagulls have migrated to Kunming. Their arrival, around the beginning of November and earlier each year, has become an exciting event for locals of all ages. Thousands of people gather to feed them, with street vendors selling seagull food and snap-happy natives posing in front of them when they fly or snatch food.
A monument next to the lake tells the story of a local man, Wu Qinghen, known by everybody as ‘Father Seagull’. Wu Qinghen worked in a factory, and had a hard life. After he retired he had very little money at home. But as he didn’t have any children, he did have a lot of time on his hands. He would go to Green Lake, and walk and look around. When the seagulls suddenly started appearing, he bought bread for them, eventually spending a large part of his £30 monthly pension on their food. He grew to know and love them, and gave each seagull a name. When he didn’t have enough money to buy bread, or he wanted to give them something different to eat, he would prepare a mixture of flour and eggs. After his death in 1995, all that was found in his possession were four chopped-up eggs, ready to give to the seagulls. In 2006 a monument was erected in his honour – the first to be made of an ordinary citizen in Kunming.
How to get there: 翠湖公园 (Green Lake Park)
Located in Central Kunming – near Qingyun Road, Wenlin Jie, and Yunnan University. Very accessible and easy to find – every taxi driver and Kunming resident will know where it is. It is a ten minute walk from Renmin Road.
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