Archive for the ‘Yanan’ Category
When you visit Yan’an, a revolutionary holy place in China and a cradle of Chinese civilization, you are still able to find a great number of caves houses, popularly called “Yaodong” in Chinese. The city proper of Yan’an is located about 400km north of Xian. But Yan’an has a large administration area inclding one district and 12 counties. Hukou Waterfalls and Huangdi Mausoleum are also under the administration of Yan’an.
These loess cave dwellings are one of the four traditional Chinese dwellings including Tulou ( earth houses, common in Fujian Province), Yaodong ( Cave Abodes, on the loess in the Northwest China), Ganlan ( a wood or bamboo storied house common in Guizhou, Guangdong and Guangxi) and Yikeyin (Seal-like Compound in popular Yunnan Province).
Yaodong, or cave residences are mainly divided into three categories – earth cave houses, brick cave houses and stone cave houses. Some of them are carved into hillsides and others are just dugouts.
Generally one standard cave house is 7-8m deep, 3m high and 3m wide. Some cave houses are dug as deep as 20m. One family usually have 3 or 5 caves houses which form a courtyard. Most of the cave house courtyards are built at the foot of a hill facing the sun. Above the cave dwellings are ofen planted with trees and flowers.
Yaodongs have the advantage of being cool in summer and warm in winter; both fire-proof and sound-proof; economic both in land and labour. Yaodongs are most popular in northen Shaanxi Province (Shaanbei) including Yan’an.
Most of the cave dwellings hosts are very kind and friendly to visitors. You may stop for a chat and picture taking when you pass by a cave residential courtyard.
An earth cave house courtyard
A stone cave dwelling courtyard with a dog gate keeper
Chairman Mao (Mao Zedong) moved here and stayed in the cave house at Date Garden in Yan’an from Oct, 1943 to Dec, 1945.
Today, cave dwellings are still available in the city center of Yan’an.
Any questions about the cave houses in Yan’an, please drop a line.
Plan your China tour? Hukou Falls at Yellow River is one of the most beautiful wayerfalls in China and the largest yellow waterfalls in the world. Do you have a fancy idea of visiting this magnificent waterfalls? Yes, years ago its awkward location did drive away many travelers since it is located in the middle reaches of Yellow River in the Loess Plateau hinterlands between Shaanxi Province and Shanxi Province. But after the local governments improved transport and tourist facilities, foreign and domestic tourists coming to Hukou Waterfalls have increased greatly year on year. Then how to visit Hukou Waterfalls?
Xian, Taiyuan and Yanan are the three best cities to start up your trip to Hukou Waterfalls. Hukou Waterfalls is located about 400km to the northeast of Xian. Take an early morning long-distance bus from Xian Long-distance bus station and get to Hukou Waterfalls at noon and the return bus will bring you back to Xian city.
Hukou Waterfalls is located about 140km in the southeast of Yanan (Hukou Waterfalls is under the administration of Yanan). Take a morning bus at 8:00am from Yanan South Bus Station and you will arrive at Hukou Waterfalls around 11:00am. Again the return bus will take you back to Yanan. Yanan has plentiful trains going to Beijing, Taiyuan and Xian. Yanan also has a medium-sized airport which has flights for Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and etc.
Hukou Waterfalls can be viewed either from Shaanxi side or Shanxi side since Yellow River is a border river dividing Shaanxi Province and Shanxi Province. You may take a bus and drive from Taiyuan to Hukou Waterfalls at a distance of about 400km. The Taiyuan-Hukou Waterfalls highway will be soon completed.
The visitors viewing on the Hukou Waterfalls Shaanxi side has outnumbered those on Shanxi side. The viewing place on Shaanxi side is lower than Shanxi side, which makes the waterfalls looks much more magnificent than viewed from Shaanxi side.
The ice and snow at Hukou Waterfalls will be melted totally in May. So the best time to visit Hukou Waterfalls is May, June, September and October. July and August are a little to hot and humid. Winter season finds less water volume on the Yellow River, reducing the greatness of the waterfalls.
But visiting Hukou Waterfalls in winter has its unique features which you cannot enjoy in the so-called high or best season. You will see ice pendants and a whitened iced river itself.
Today I make a side trip to Hukou Waterfalls from Yanan. Follow me into the wonderland of Hukou Waterfalls!
Yesterday I took the overnight train Z53 starting from Beijing Western Railway Station at 20:03. All the cars in the train offer soft sleepers, clean and comfortable. The Z53 arrives at 5:03 early in the morning. Losing no time, I hire a taxi hunting for business at the train station and directly dart for Hukou Waterfalls though it is still quite dark outside.
We (me and my taxi driver) take a short cut – a provincial higheway No.303 with a length of 140km from Yanan city center to Hukou Waterfalls. We are driving on the loess plateatu at the direction of southeast. I hope we can have the luck to enjoy a sunrise over the loess plateatu. It seems today the good luck is sure to follow us! Driving on the high loess hills, we hit a red rising sun! Cool!
A sunrise over the loess plateau at 7:30am
With even a greater expectation to see a sunrise over Yellow River, I elbow my driver to drive a little faster to the edge of the mother river. Oh, my god! We make it! Here is the melting radiant sunrise over Yellow River.
When we get to the tickting office of Hukou Waterfalls on Shaanxi side, we feel dropped from heaven to hell when we are told that Hukou Waterfalls is forbidden to visit due to treacherous ice surface on the river. Seeing I look so depressed, they show their sympathy and tell us to go to Shanxi side (their competitor) to view the waterfalls. Heaven never seals off all exits! We continue to drive another 7km crossing a bridge spanning Yellow River and get to the Hukou Waterfalls on Shanxi side. Paying entrance RMB91 enables me to come closer to the waterfalls which has been lingering in my heart for many years.
The picture below is taken from the bridge when we drive past the bridge to Shanxi side. You see, most of the river surface is frozen and the flowing water is running under the iced river surface.
The flowing water is running under the iced river surface.
Unlike a normal waterfalls hanging high and easy for people to look up. But in the case of Hukou Waterfalls, people have to look down! Hukou waterfalls is located in the middle of the over-200m-wide river. The waterfalls’s velocity increases, and then plunges over a narrow opening on a cliff on the river bed, forming a waterfall 15m high and 20m wide, as if water is pouring down from a huge teapot, hence the name Hukou (literally, the mouth of teapot) Waterfall.
I walk across the iced river along the cement bridges to the a narrow opening on a cliff on the river bed in the middle of the wide river. From the river bank, it is difficult to discern the waterfalls!
I walk carefully and move closer to a protection rope line. After finding a good viewing point, I snap some pictures of the waterfalls stiring up masses of smoke, turning the placid water into rapids with ice pendants on two sides.
I’m the only visitor on Hukou Waterfalls at the moment. A local staff comes to me saying if I pay extra RMB21, I’m able to view the watfalls from its bottom! They have dug a tunnel leading to the bottom of the waterfalls! Jesus! Sure I’m ready to pay and follow him walk down the tunnel.
Now I’m almost on the same level of the river bed of the running water under the waterfalls. From there, I look up at the waterfalls! In the sunshine, the mist is reflected by sunlight to create a rainbow spanning the water like a colorful bridge!