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August 8, 2009

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Mountain landscapes a peak attraction in city of millionaires

In China, if a man says he's from Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, he will probably be thought of as a rich man in most Chinese people's eyes, Wenzhou has a reputation as a city filled with millionaires. It's famous for its businessmen who own enterprises all over the world.

However, despite that traditional view, not many people have really visited this city -- more than a city of millionaires, Wenzhou is also an attractive tourist destination.

Yandang Mountain

Occupying an area of 450 square kilometers, Yandang Mountain is known as the "No. 1 Mountain in southeast China," with more than 500 attractions in eight scenic zones. It's 68 kilometers from Wenzhou city center.

Originally, Yandang Mountain was a volcano. After it erupted about 121 million years ago, it has formed various peculiar peaks, which are now the most special attractions. Among those eight zones, Da Long Qiu, Ling Yan and Ling Feng are known as the "Top Three of Yandang".

At the upper reaches of Jinxi Creak, Da Long Qiu (Big Dragon Waterfall) is some of the most remarkable scenery in Yandang Mountain. The area is considered as the best site to observe volcanic rocks formed some 121 million years ago and has been referred to as a natural museum for volancanoes by geologists.

On entering the scenic area along Jinxi Creek, travelers can see a sheer rocky peak rising from the ground. The peak separates at the top, making it look like a pair of scissors pointing to the sky -- hence its name, Scissors Peak.

The poet Qian Bingwang said: "This marvelous peak itself changes shapes endlessly." And the peak is a perfect example of experiencing changing views from different angles.

As you walk toward the Big Dragon Waterfall, the Scissors Peak takes on different names depending on your viewpoint. It's also known as "crocodile mouth," "back of a beauty," "woodpecker," "bear," "mast" and "sail" depending on the angle of view.

After passing the peak, you come to the Big Dragon Waterfall itself, one of the top four waterfalls in China. The other three are Huangguoshu Waterfall in Guizhou Province, Hukou Waterfall in Shanxi Province and Diaoshuilou Waterfall in Heilongjiang Province. Of all four, the Big Dragon is the tallest with a height of more than 190 meters.

The waterfall originates from Baigangjian and falls from Lianyun Peak. It changes its look according to the season -- on summer days, just after a thunderstorm, it looks like a diving silver dragon while on a spring day with little rain, the waterfall is like a string of beads running down the mountainside.

Ling Yan is another Yangdang Mountain highlight. It's in the middle of the area, with two main peaks °?-- Tianzhu Peak and Zhanqi Peak -- facing each other. However, the most famous thing about Ling Yan is not the scenery, but its acrobatic performances -- rope-walking.

The rope lies between Tianzhu Peak and Zhanqi Peak, and both the height and length are over 200 meters.

It's said that this extremely dangerous practice first originated in the 1930s when local villagers had to collect herbs growing on the cliff to make a living.

In the performance, the acrobat will recreate the scene in front of the audience -- crossing the gap of peaks as well as getting to the cliff. The performance takes place twice a day -- in the morning and the afternoon, weather permitting.

Days spent on Yandang Mountain are fabulous, while at night Ling Feng takes on a fairyland appearance as darkness falls.

Nanxi River

For visitors to Wenzhou, there are two must-see sites -- one is Yandang Mountain, and the other is Nanxi River, 23 kilometers from the city center. Nanxi River flows next to Yandang Mountain. Originating from Daqing Hill in Yongjia County of Zhejiang Province, the river is more than 300 kilometers long.

Its clear water allows you to see the riverbed and many environmentalists consider it China's cleanest river. And, according to national standards, it's drinkable.

Drifting on bamboo rafts is the most enjoyable entertainment on the river. The river is wide and shallow where the rafts are with a depth of just 1 meter in most places.

Drifting on such a peaceful and clean river, travelers will definitely enjoy a comfortable tour of sightseeing.

If you're not satisfied with just drifting on the river, there are also some swimming zones with beaches.

The natural scenery is not the only attraction. Along the riverside there are many ancient villages with old buildings from the Tang (AD 618-907) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties that have been preserved. The villagers maintain the traditions of their ancestors, growing their own food and using water-powered mills. In today's fast-developing society, those ancient villages seem more and more precious. If you go:

By car: The distance is around 600 kilometers and it takes around five to six hours by car. Go to Jinshan District in Shanghai and take Hangzhou Bay Bridge; get to Cining and then take G329 National Highway to get to Ningbo; and then take Yongtaiwen Highway and get to the destination -- Wenzhou.

By train: Both the Shanghai Railway Station and Shanghai South Railway Station have trains to Wenzhou. It takes 9-11 hours, and tickets cost from 90 yuan (US$13) to 250 yuan.

Where to stay: Shangri-La Hotel, 1 Xiangyuan Rd, Wenzhou

Tel: (0577) 8998-8888


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