Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The lure of Yellow Dragon Cave

Source: TheSundayTimes December 19, 2010, Page 5, Special
Produced by the special projects unit, marketing division, SPH)
Source Website:
Chan Tik Seah, Mon, Dec 20 2010

PHOTO: Among Zhangjiajie's major attractions is Tianzi Mountain, whose peak of myraid rocks includes one that resembles an old man carrying a basket on his back
TheSundayTimes December 19, 2010, Page 5, Special

China's Zhangjiajie region in Hunan province has an underground river, spectacular sandstone peaks and gorges that inspire poets and writers.

In the famous classical prose, Tao Hua Yuan (Peace Blossom Land) by literary master Tao Yuan Ming, a fisherman from a place called Wuling in the Jin Dynasty stumbled upon a village which could be described as an utopia by people of that era.

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The villagers, descendants of refugees from wars and turmoil centuries earlier, made a simple living by farming. Free from oppression, they lived secluded in their scenic sanctuary of peach trees.

The villagers hosted the fisherman warmly but asked him not to divulge their sanctuary as he bade them farewell.

But he reported his find to the local official. They tried but could not retrace the path the fisherman took, and the peach blossom land was forgotten.

Today, Wulingyuan, where the prose was based, is certainly not forgotten. Renamed Changde City, which, together with the adjacent Zhangjiajie City, this region in north-west Hunan Province is a major tourism destination with beautiful sandstone peaks, gorges, and peach blossoms. It is in the list of World Cultural Sites.


A major attraction is the Tianzi Mountain, which rises more than 1,200 m above sea level. The mountain's peak is a juxtaposition of odd-shaped rocks, including one that has been visualised as an old man carrying a basket on his back picking herbs.

PHOTO: China Tour Map - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide

Looking at the breathtaking natural beauty, it is not difficult to imagine where the classical Chinese painters got their inspiration from, just like how Tao Yuan Ming was probably inspired by the peach blossoms to compose his prose.

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Must Explore
There are numerous scenic spots within Zhangjiajie, and a tour of the Huang Long Dong, or Yellow Dragon Cave, at Souxi Valley, is an experience not to be missed.

PHOTO: View beautiful scenery and natural heritage at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Appreciate natural sights of trees, almost straight up and down mountains, streams and wild lives Enjoy uncanny workmanship by nature in Yellow Dragon Cave

Take a boat ride along a two-kilometre-long underground river, and be amazed at the colourful stalactites and stalagmites along the way. The largest scenic spot of all is the aptly-named Dragon King Palace, which contains thousands of these natural sculptures.

PHOTO: There are four layers, about 1600 meters high, having one reservoir, two brooks, three waterfalls, four ponds, thirteen halls and ninety-six passages. The Yellow Dragon Cave is 13 km in length. The biggest hall in it is 12,000 square meters and can hold 10,000 people. Entering the cave, you feel you are in a fairyland, beautiful and tranquil.

PHOTO: China Tour Map - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide

Must Enjoy
Zhangjiajie is not only about natural scenery. Do catch some performances at the Zhangjiajie Meili Xiangxi Grand Theatre, which within a decade of its establishment has been built itself a reputation as a key destination for visitors. The theatre, which is located within Wulingyuan, complements its natural surroundings and can seat 1,080 people.

PHOTO: Hallelujah Concert Hall in Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) Cave scenic area, Zhangjiajie City, a famous world heritage site.

PHOTO: At one end of the complex was a stage where a Chinese opera was being conducted.

The highlights include dance performances by the Miao tribe and a play based on the novel called Bian Chen by Sheng Chong Wen. There is also an energetic dance based on a Yao tribe custom where the suitors climb up a high-rise tower as they try to reach the girl they are trying to date.

PHOTO: The Tianzi Mountain

Must Savour

A local favourite is a chicken and duck mix, cooked with a black fungus-like plant found on the cliffs of Zhangjiajie. The three key ingredients cooked together create such a tantalising and delicate aroma that earns this dish a place on the Ming and Qing emperors' banquet menu.

For those with a more adventurous palate, try another local steamed dish made from live oriental weatherfish and tofu. The live fish is put in a pot with a big succulent chunk of white tofu and when the cooking begins, the fish, in a futile bid to escape the heat, burrows into the tofu, leaving its tail fin hanging out when the dish is served.

Must Have
Tourists dropping by this area should bring home a type of tea called Changshouteng, literally translated as longevity vine, but also known as the Divine Zhangjiajie Tea.

What makes the Changshouteng tea special is its rich mineral content, including calcium, iron, zinc and 11 other elements. The most beneficial attribute of this tea is its flavone content.

Flavone, found increasingly in health supplements, is said to have beneficial effects against ailments like atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.
By Chan Tik Seah, Mon, Dec 20 2010

Take note
For international medical assistance, call OCBC Concierge at 65 6322-2588.
For insurance claim assistance, call 6248-2638 or visit for more details.
Best Time to Visit All year round.
Currency 1 SGD = 5 Chinese Yuan (approx)

PHOTO: Dragons are legendary and imaginary creatures, commonly portrayed in various myths as serpentine or reptilian. We have seen dragons in various movies, cartoons, comic books and even video games, dragons always displayed as fierce and powerful flying creatures that are able to emit fire from their mouths. Many artists and designers have tried to draw their own version of powerful, fierce, old and mythical creatures. A fantastic digital art of dragons from deviantART.