Without meaning to, we arrive on our taxi to the place where we had made an appointment with a good friend, at the gates of the famous Gu Lian Hua Chi or Ancient Garden Lotus. As she sees us, Nouya jokes by exaggerating a forced reverence that ends up on laughter as she runs toward us. The gathering becomes a sharing of feelings about our arrival, showing in part the differences between East and West. Nouya invites us to enter the Lotus Garden and as seemed usual in Asia, everything changes. The crowded buildings, the noise, the cars and bikes at Baoding streets are transformed through the garden doors into a peaceful oasis near a large lake full of lotus flowers. Actually, it seems as if there was more lotus than water, which is barely noticeable. This is one of the oldest and most cherished gardens throughout China and its characteristic and elegant Wanhong bridge with traditional Chinese decorations in its architecture creates what we all envision before reaching a destination in Asia. The garden was built in 675 during the Tang Dynasty and inside, besides the lake, it houses a museum with ancient stelaes written in calligraphy from past centuries and all the 7,240 volumes of the only existing Buddhist manuscript. Although the beauty of the place invites to appreciate it in silence and enjoying the nice view, after a few seconds Nouya leads us back to the exit, where a taxi is waiting to take us to another famous park on the outskirts of the city.
Not too far away, or at least it seems so from our taxi, Nouya stops the car again to visit the Botanical Garden of the city. Although we see it only from the door, the garden occupies a large area that starts with a beautiful sundial surrounded by columns with the Chinese zodiac signs. From here you can rent a small car driven by a guide to explore the garden, full of flowers, bamboos and other exotic plants. Back in the taxi, we start to leave the city and the mountains become our unexpected traveling companions. As Nouya tells us, in these mountains are excavated tombs of the Qing Dynasty; a total of 10 emperors who conquered this area of China since 1644. Nowadays the place allows visitors, that as they focus on the high zones of the mounts, it becomes a great experience in which the traveler needs to use the tele-chairs arranged down the mountain to reach the various tombs of the 76 royals that are buried here: emperors, empresses, princes and princesses. While you can access most of them, only Chong grave admits visits to the sort of palaces that were dug with the larger graves. The most interesting ones, with no doubt, are those that still have the remains of the sculptures lined with green jade in which the bodies of the royal dead were introduced to assure their journey to eternity.
Near these spots there are two important natural enclosures for the people of the area. One of them is Mount Langya, historically known for being the place where five brave soldiers fought against the Japanese invaders. Also, its name means 'wolf teeth' due to its form. The other enclosure is formed by the Yesanpo National Park with its impressive cliffs, caves and sandalwood trees with over 1000 years old. And if both sites represent the pride of the people of Baoding, the famous Baoding balls are not far behind. They are two instruments in the form of metal sphere with a therapeutic character when you rotate them in the palm of your hand. Chinese Baoding balls were created here and thanks to them it is said that the longevity of its locals is famous all over the world.