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Taipei flora expo opens

The 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition officially opened Saturday.

Expo organizers said about eight million visitors, including 400,000 from overseas, are expected to visit the 171-day event.

Lin Mei-hui was the expo's first visitor, at 9 a.m. Saturday. Lin, who lives in Seattle, the United States, said she came back to the island for the expo. "The flowers in the park make me feel younger."

With the theme "Rivers, Flowers, New Horizons," the expo will run until April 25, 2011. This is the first time the event has been held on the island.

Covering 91.8 hectares and with 32 million plants of 3,300 kinds on display, the expo site includes four parks and 14 exhibition halls showcasing achievements in horticulture, science and environmental protection.

Wendy Yu, an 8-year-old, and her mother were also among Saturday's visitors.

"I want to see the Pavilion of Dreams and the Pavilion of Future. I've seen them on TV. They are special," she said.

In the expo's Yuanshan Park, there is a special area for Shanghai and Xi'an gardens from the Chinese mainland.

Li Li, director of the expo's Shanghai Garden, said, "We've used special technology to make our famous flowers - peony, camellia and narcissus. They usually don't blossom in this season."

Over an 960-square-meter area, the Shanghai Garden is built with lanes made with old bricks shipped from Shanghai, according to Li.

Doeke Faber, president of the International Association of Horticultural Producers, said at the opening ceremony that "the expo is exceptional in its modern and green architecture."

"With the number of beautiful pavilions and buildings...the expo is also leading the way to show how we can make our lives and the earth more sustainable," he said.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said the city wants to show off Taipei and Taiwan's environmental protection efforts and its scientific, technological and cultural achievements at the expo, to inspire visitors to see the beauty of harmonious interaction between mankind and nature.

Taipei is the 7th city in Asia to hold the international event, which has taken 13.8 billion New Taiwan dollars (456.95 million U.S. dollars) and nearly four years of preparation to stage.

About 20,000 volunteers, ranging in age from 15 to 80 years, will work for the half-year event.