Probably the largest camellia in the world
Probably the largest camellia in the world

In contrast to the rough and ready aesthetic of the market place and narrow streets, the landscaping around the housing blocks next to the river is pleasant taste of urbania. The parkland has been lawned, a shocking contrast to the vegetable plot domination of every patch of earth elsewhere, and contains some clever tables and chairs made from river boulders and a decent childrens’ park with all-weather ping pong and badminton.

Best of all though is what must be the biggest camellia in the world, as good as 12 metres high. It is supported by bamboo scaffolding and sits within a high brick-walled bed. This is a familiar site for those accustomed to seeing cherished trees supported into old age, until you find out that someone stole this brute from the village to sell to landscape developers in Guangzhou for a fortune. Luckily the tree was retrieved and now stands well fortified (in both senses of the word) in the centre of the park. There is also now a barrier at the road entrance to the village to protect further tree theft – a sizeable criminal industry here.

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