SOUTH OF CHENGDU: MT. EMEI, DINOSAURS, THE GIANT BUDDHA AND THE ROCKET-LAUNCHING ANCIENT TOWN

LESHAN

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Giant Buddha
Leshan (140 kilometers south of Chengdu, 80 minutes by fast train) is a river town with the largest Buddha statue in the world. Surrounded by temples and reportedly built 1200 years ago, the statue is located in a niche on the western slope of Lingyun Mountain at the confluence of the Minjiang River, Qingyi River and Dadu River. The city is a famous pilgrimage center. Hundreds of people have died in the turbulence created by the three rivers trying to get a look at the statue from the river.

In the early 2000s there was an attempt to make a 37-meter-high replica of the one of the Buddha statues that was destroyed in Bamiyan Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2003. In 2003, the Buddha was covered in blue plastic and no one at the park would say when people would be able to see it. To make the Bamiyan Buddha builders tore down a unique, 2000-year-old Mahaoya tombs that had been built on the cliffs. Now there is no Bamiyan Buddha in Leshan.

Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. According to the Chinese government: “It easily rivals other famous stone carvings such as the Sphinx and the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.” Admission: 90 yuan (US$14.22) per person; Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: There are good bus connections between Chengdu and Leshan and 14 fast trains traveling bith directions between the tow cities each day. Travel China Guide Travel China Guide Lonely Planet Lonely Planet

Giant Buddha of Leshan

Giant Buddha of Leshan is a sitting Buddha carved into a cliff that overlooks the three rivers. A good example of a popular Asian saying, "the mountain is a Buddha, the Buddha is a mountain," it was conceived and started by a monk a monk named Hai Tong who wanted to build a statue to protect travelers at the confluence of Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi Rivers, where it is situated. The giant Buddha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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View from Giant Buddha
The Leshan Giant Buddha, or Lingyun Giant Buddha, is the sculpture of a seated Maitreya Buddha located at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers in southern Sichuan Province, close to the city of Leshan. The stone sculpture, carved out from a cliff, faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below its feet. Built in Tang Dynasty (618–907), it is the largest stone-carved sitting Maitreya Buddha in the world as well as the tallest pre-modern statue in the world (by far).

Finished in A.D. 803 after 90 years of work, the Buddha is 25 stories (71 meters, 233 feet) high and 27.5 meters (90 feet) across at its shoulders and has an six meter (18-foot nose), two four-meter (12-foot) ears and a 14-meter (45-foot) -high head. The fingernails are the size of king-size beds and have weeds growing from the cracks. It is possible for two people to stand in one of the Buddha's ear canals and 100 people can sit in the area between the Buddha's feet.

According to UNESCO: “Carved in the 8th century CE on the hillside of Xijuo Peak overlooking the confluence of three rivers, it is the largest Buddhist sculpture in the world. A contemporary account of the creation of the Giant Buddha is preserved in the form of an inscribed tablet. Associated monuments include the 9th century Lingbao Pagoda and the Dafo (Giant Buddha) Temple dating from the early Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). The Wuyu Temple contains two important statues: the 9th century Dashi bronze Buddha and the 11th century Amithabha statue group, cast in iron and gilded. Over five hundred Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220) tombs of the 1st to 4th centuries, notable for their fine carvings and calligraphic inscriptions are located on Mahao Crag.”

In the last 1990s, the Buddha was given a garish coat of paint to make it look newer. After the destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Leshan Buddha became the world's largest Buddha. In the early 2000s, a US$30 restoration project began to shore up and enlarge the platform and fix up damage caused by weathering, acid rain and fissures that allowed water to seep deep into the statue. UNESCO World Heritage Site site: UNESCO

Places to Visit at the Giant Buddha of Leshan

Visitors to Leshan's 1.7-sq- kilometers scenic area, can also visit the nearby cavern where the monk Hai Tong lived. According to legend, when the Tang government considered slashing funding, the monk scooped out his eyes in a show of pious devotion. The monk died before the project's completion, and his disciples finished the project

The Dragon's Pool and Tiger's Lair are said to have been created when a white tiger and black dragon-inspired by Buddhist scriptures-turned themselves into stone to guard the giant Buddha. The tiger crouches poised to strike in front of a small cave, while the stone dragon slinks above a pool brimming with koi that flash gold, like fistfuls of coins dropped in the water, when they swim. With its natural and supernatural appeal, from monkeys to monks, we found Emei's peaks to be a highpoint of Sichuan travel.

According to China.org: “Leshan's Giant Buddha was built at the churning confluence of the Min, Qingyi and Dadu rivers, where fiendish aquatic demons were believed to cause frequent shipwrecks. Ironically, the Maitreya's creation did help; so much rock was chipped out of the gorge that the debris slowed the currents, enabling ships to pass safely. Several smaller bodhisattvas are also carved into the escarpment, but most were beheaded during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76). There are also a few temples, including the Wuyou Monastery, and similar sacred spots.

Emeishan: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Emeishan (eight kilometers from Baoguo, which is 55 kilometers from Leshan) is a major pilgrimage center and one of the four famous Buddhist mountains in China. Covering more than 154 square kilometers (59.5 square miles), it encompasses bamboo forests and undulating peaks and has been acclaimed as a "Beauty Under Heaven."

Emeishan (Mount Emei) was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The summit of the 10,000-foot-high sacred peak is called 10,000 Buddha Peak. The numerous hiking trails, some of which follow dizzying cliffs, are filled with pilgrims. Many of the temples are dominated by nasty rhesus monkeys who extort food from tourists and harass pilgrims. At the Emei monastery female tourists can hire young men to carry them to the top of the mountain on their backs.

Emeishan sits on the western rim of the Sichuan Basin, Its highest peak is 3,099-meter (10,167-feet) -high Wanfo Peak. According to UNESCO: Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area “is an area of striking scenic beauty. It is also of great spiritual and cultural importance because of its role in the introduction of Buddhism into China. The conscious siting of so many of the cultural monuments, particularly of traditional architecture, within the natural environment makes it a cultural landscape of very high order....On Mount Emei, the importance of the link between the tangible and intangible, the natural and the cultural, is uppermost. Mount Emei is a place of historical significance as one of the four holy lands of Chinese Buddhism...The heritage zones of the Mount Emei and Leshan Giant Buddha cover 15,400 hectares and 17.88 hectares respectively and completely represent the importance of Buddhist culture and ancient architecture. [Source: UNESCO]

“The first Buddhist temple in China was built here in Sichuan Province in the 1st century A.D. in the beautiful surroundings of the summit Mount Emei. The addition of other temples turned the site into one of Buddhism's holiest sites. Over the centuries, the cultural treasures grew in number. The most remarkable is the Giant Buddha of Leshan, carved out of a hillside in the 8th century and looking down on the confluence of three rivers. At 71 meters high, it is the largest Buddha in the world. Mount Emei is also notable for its exceptionally diverse vegetation, ranging from subtropical to subalpine pine forests. Some of the trees there are more than 1,000 years old.” [Source: UNESCO]

Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide UNESCO World Heritage Site site: : ( UNESCO Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: take a train to Emei station in Emei town, where one can catch buses and minibuses to Baoguo and the Great Buddha. Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; Admission: 150 yuan (US$23.7) per person (summer); 90 yuan (US$14.22) per person (winter)

Temples at Emeishan

As one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China, Mt. Emei is home to 26 temples, including 8 major ones, which frequently hold Buddhist ceremonies. Altogether there are over 100 monastery and temple buildings on the mountain include Ambushing Tiger Monastery, Thunder Sound Monastery and Pure Tone Tower.

According to UNESCO: Mount Emei (Emeishan) is an area of exceptional cultural significance as it is the place where Buddhism first became established on Chinese territory and from where it spread widely through the East...On Mount Emei, there are over 30 temples, ten of them large and very old; they are in local traditional style and most are built on hillsides, taking advantage of the terrain. In the selection of the site, design, and construction they are masterpieces of great originality and ingenuity. The advanced architectural and building techniques are the quintessence of Chinese temple architecture.

“Buddhism was introduced into China via the Silk Road from India to Mount Emei, and it was on Mount Emei that the first Buddhist temple in China was built in the 1st century CE... It became the Guangxiang Temple, receiving its present royal name of Huazang in 1614. The addition of more than 30 other temples including the Wannian Temple founded in the 4th century containing the 7.85 meters high Puxian bronze Buddha of the 10th century, and garden temples including the Qingyin Pavilion complex of pavilions, towers and platforms dating from the early 6th century; the early 17th century Baoguo Temple and the Ligou Garden (Fuhu Temple) turned the mountain into one of Buddhism's holiest sites.

“Associated with these temples are found some of the most important cultural treasures of China, including the remarkable Leshan Giant Buddha carved in the 8th century CE out of the hillside of Xijuo Peak. Facing the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers, it is the tallest Buddha sculpture in the world with a height of 71 meters....The rich Buddhist cultural heritage of Mount Emei has a documented history of over 2,000 years, consisting of archaeological sites, important architecture, tombs, ritual spaces, and collections of cultural artefacts, including sculpture, stone inscriptions, calligraphy, painting, and music, among other traditional arts.”

Natural Sights, Tourism and Conservation at Emeishan

Mt. Emei has a steep terrain and boasts some great natural scenery. It is covered by more than 3,000 kinds of plants, including a number of rare trees. Among the natural scenic spots are Wash Elephant Pool, Fairy Peak and White Dragon Cave. There are many hiking trails. According to UNESCO: Mount Emei is notable for its exceptionally rich vegetation, ranging from subtropical evergreen forests to subalpine pine forests. Covering an area of 15,400 hectares in two discrete areas — the Mount Emei and the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Areas — the property is an area of natural beauty into which the human element has been integrated with skill and subtlety.

“Mount Emei is a site of special significance to conservation and to science for its high floral diversity. The biodiversity of the site is exceptionally rich: some 3,200 plant species in 242 families have been recorded, of which 31 are under national protection and more than 100 species are endemic. This is due to its transitional location at the edge of the Sichuan basin and the eastern Himalayan highlands. Within its elevation range of 2,600 meters are found a great variety of vegetation zones including subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest, mixed evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved forest, mixed broad-leaved and conifer forests, and subalpine conifer forest. This exceptional flora is also rich in animal species with some 2,300 species recorded, including several threatened at a global scale.

“Emei is one of four sacred Buddhist mountains in China and as such, it has been treated as a special protected place for almost 3,000 years. Protection in modern times has taken the form of laws culminating in its establishment as a "Scenic Area" in 1982. The area is subject to various regulations from the national, provincial and municipal governments and has a plan to guide its conservation. Fortunately, because of its size and the relative inaccessibility of its terrain, much of Emei remains untouched and unspoiled. The revival of Buddhism reinforces its protection as the monks can play a quasi-warden role.

“Mount Emei has been managed since the middle of the 10th century, and the first General Administrative Plan of Mount Emei was produced in the early 1980s. At present, the thousand year-old traditional link between the natural and the cultural values of the property is well-preserved. The main threat to Emei is the number of tourists and pilgrims that visit the property and the development that they bring with them. The main intrusion has been a cable car which leads to the Golden Summit of the mountain and brings some 300,000 people a year to the sensitive montane forest zone, as well as the construction of a light monorail in 1998 after inscription of the property. There are numerous drink stands and souvenir stalls which detract from the natural atmosphere of the mountain. The specific long-term management objective for the property is to ensure that, despite increasing visitor pressure, the traditional link of nature and culture is maintained and continues to be well-managed so that both integrity and authenticity of the property are conserved.

Monkeys at Mt. Emei

Groups of rhesus monkeys are often seen by the mountain roads, looking to get some food from the travelers. Many of the temples are dominated by nasty monkeys who extort food from tourists and harass pilgrims.

One traveler wrote for China.org: “I thought my wife was rummaging through my backpack, but instead found myself nose-to-nose with a glowering Tibetan macaque. The woolly monkey was up to his armpit in my bag, rooting through clumps of socks and sweaters to pilfer the peanuts stashed inside. "Hey, that's mine!" I scolded, laughing, and tugged the knapsack away from the creature-or at least tried to. These cheeky Tibetan macaques have surprisingly powerful upper body strength. The primates who dwell on the mountainsides of Sichuan province's Emei Mountain are colloquially known as "little beggars". That's why I'd brought alms of peanuts. But nobody said they were actually "little pickpockets".

A Dutch traveler posted on Tripadvisor: “Stupid mainland tourists have corrupted these monkeys to become used to humans. They are very aggressive now and will come to you to try and steal food. They have learned to grab plastic bags and such because they know food is in there. I passed this area quickly because seeing the tourists dealing with these wild animals the way they did despite the clear signs warning them of the danger made me very sad.”

Hiking and Tourist Sights at Mount Emei

The China.org traveler wrote: “My family and I were trudging toward Emei's second-highest peak, the 3,079-meter-high Golden Summit. The range's tallest crown is Qianfoshan (Thousand Buddha Mountain), which zooms 3,099 meters into the sky. Lashed around our shoes were bingjiao (ice paws), iron spikes locals wear to puncture the slush to keep from slithering down the mountainside. The way Emei Mountain's precipices jut skyward seems to wave a defiant finger in the face of Newtonian physics, while tapping another finger on climbers' shoulders as if to say: "You really don't want to fall down me."

“Slogging brought us to the cable car that zips 1.164 kilometers through a spray of aerosol known as the Mist of Leidong Plateau-one of the four "miracles of Emei". The car carries 100 passengers above the clouds within five minutes, and despite the route's distance, there are no supports along the way. Upon disembarking, we gazed out over Emei's second "miracle", the Cloud Sea-white swaths of cirrus, swirling as far as could be seen.

“Viewing these fleecy cloud billows from above reminded us of archetypical depictions of heaven, and we half expected to see winged harpists flittering from puff to puff. Emei's other two miracles have yet to be explained by modern science. The Holy Lamps are a mysterious scattering of eerie green lights that flicker and dance around the 60-meter-tall Buddha Cliff at night. Only visible a few times a year are the Buddha Halos, techni-colored auras that ring the shadows of those who walk on the Buddha Cliff and appear to move with the people who cast them.

“The Sichuan government recently invested 300 million yuan (US$43.9 million) in refurbishing the 16-sq- kilometers Golden Summit Scenic Area and finished construction last year. The treasure trove of structures here includes the Golden, Silver and Bronze monasteries. Its crown jewel is the 48-meter-high multidimensional Samantabhadra Buddha statue. This 66-ton bronze likeness is endowed with 10 heads to catch winds from 10 directions. Emei is not only among China's Four Buddhist Mountains but is also believed to be the alp from which the religion radiated throughout China after arriving from India.

Zigong and Its Dinosaur Museum

Zigong (near Leshan City 200 kilometers south of Chengdu) was formed by the merger of the two former towns of Ziliujing and Gongjing and and is the third largest city in Sichuan, with about 2.7 million people. Along the Fuxi river are several stone paved roads called the "ancient streets" flanked by traditional houses and shops that date back to the days when Zigong was a bustling Salt trade center. Several salt well heads are capped and marked along the streets that wind along the river. Zigong is in the southern Sichuan Basin and is still the largest salt production center in China. The Zigong Salt History Museum is located at 107 Jiefang Rd, Ziliujing, Zigong.

Zigong Dinosaur Museum (in Zigong,) is located in a football-filed-size building situated in a region where dinosaur bones were first discovered. The Chinese have always been fascinated by dragons, and even today Chinese use the same word (konglong) for "dinosaur" and "terrible dragon." The large bones found in the area, beginning in the third century A.D., were said to belong to dragons who were locked out of heaven and then fell back to earth. Most of the bones found in the museum appear to belong to dinosaurs killed in a natural disaster so sudden that some of the dinosaurs look as if they were caught in the middle of a fight when they died. One set of bones comes from a dinosaur with a neck five times longer than a giraffe's neck.Zigong is a city with almost 4 million people

Zigong Dinosaur Museum was the first dinosaur museum in China. Housed in a weird-shaped building, with an area of 2,500 square meters, the museum contains dinosaur fossils excavated in the 1980s in the Shaximiao Formation, near the town of Dashanpu seven kilometers northeast of downtown Zigong, including a dinosaur named after the township, Dashanpusaurus. Because of the unique and intact bone remains, Zigong still been attractis paleontologists and dinosaur enthusiasts from around the world. In 1987, the Zigong Dinosaur Museum was established, becoming the first specialized dinosaur museum open in Asia. Mounted specimens include Omeisaurus, Gigantspinosaurus, Yangchuanosaurus hepingensis, Huayangosaurus and Xiaosaurus..

Looking at the museum at a distance, it looks like a heap of natural sandstones of various sizes. The exterior wall is covered with the imitation-stone ceramic tiles in dark yellow color. At the entrance of the museum stands a cave, where a stone screen is inscribed with eight gilded Chinese characters written by Zhang Aiping, meaning: “The dinosaur cave is a marvel in the world.” The museum has two stories — one on the ground; and the other underground — and consists of the Preface Hall, Exhibition Hall of Precious Artifacts, Exhibition Hall of Construction History and Pre-History World. Tourists can understand the life, evolution and excavation of dinosaurs in Zigong through the fossils and pictures in the museum. Location: 238, Da’an, Zigong, Sichuan, China, Tel:0086-813-5801235 Website: zdm.cn click Google translate; Travel China Guide Travel China Guide

Cellar Cluster for Luzhou Laojiao Daqu Liquor

Site of Cellar Cluster for Luzhou Laojiao Daqu Liquor (250 kilometers south-southeast of Chengdu) is one of the Sites for Liquor Making in China that was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Luzhou is situated in the upper Yangtze River, which is one of birthplaces and a major production area for fine liquors. The earliest production of Luzhou Daqu began in 1324, when the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) ruled. At present, there still remain 1619 Luzhou Daqu cellars, spreading across a 40-square kilometers area in central Luzhou city. Among them, 4 cellars were built during the reign of Emperor Wanli (1573-1620) and now have become the cultural relic under special national protection. The remaining 1615 cellars, built and put into use from early Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) to early Republic of China, now are the cultural relic under the protection of Luzhou city and are preparing to apply for nationally protected cultural relic. [Source: State Administration of Cultural Heritage, People’s Republic of China]

“Luzhou Daqu cellars so far have been the most intact and still in-use group of original cellars. Each of these cellars has a capacity of about 22 cubic meters and the wall and bottom are covered by quite elastic dark brownish clay, which contains more than 400 sorts of beneficial micro-organisms. Situated in southwestern China, a region blessed by the originality and diversity of brewing-related spirit and folk culture, Luzhou Daqu, in such social, historical and cultural environment, has inherited and followed traditional procedures and techniques. In particular, most cellars have managed to maintain their authenticity, originality and integrity in aspects such as the location, designing, techniques and materials. Liquors produced therein are quite peculiar and can be called as the ancestor and representative of China's Luzhou-flavour liquors.

Given its large extension and especially the fact that it can fully exhibit the characteristics and process of China's traditional brewing techniques and its physical construction and important features so far have remained intact, it is therefore in its integrity. This cultural heritage began in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and became quite sizeable during the reign of Emperor Wanli. Its continuous use can be testified by various historical records. For instance, beside Luzhou Daqu cellars there still remain the Longquan Well and Longquan Well Monument rebuilt at the 12th year of the reign of Emperor Jiaqing of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), which, as unmovable cultural relics, were used to store the water needed by the brewing of Luzhou Daqu. So far, most of these cellars are still dispersed in clusters across Luzhou city and maintain their original appearance, location, operation procedures and techniques. According to the study by Research Institute of Food Fermentation of China Academy of Sciences, the variety and amount of beneficial micro-organisms in these cellars have the No. 1 ranking among cellars across the nation. Luzhou liquors thus acquire a kind of uniqueness and elegance. At present, this site is under protection according to relevant laws and regulations. A working group of heritage protection was established by the local government.

Compared with other brewing sites in China, Luzhou Daqu Liquor Making Site is characterized by following four aspects: 1. The largest size. There are more than 1600 cellars that have an age of more than 100 years. 2. The longest history (historical value). The number of century-old cellars and the average age of the cellars are greatest. 3. The finest quality (scientific value). As the only century-old cellars under continuous use in the world, during the long span of time, these cellars have accumulated hundreds of micro-organisms, formed a benign ecosystem, maintained a fine quality and become a "living" cultural heritage. 4. The purest birth (social value). For a long time, Luzhou liquors have been praised as the "ancestor of Luzhou-flavor", and it is these cellars that guarantee such purest birth.

Compared with other liquor making sites, this cultural heritage property is blessed with unique and superior natural, geographic and historical factors. In particular, these cellars at present are still in use and keep on producing world-class liquors and actually become a sort of "living" cultural heritage. Numerous ancient documents and archaeological articles excavated in this region all can fully testify to the fact that Luzhou Daqu cellars had survived the Dynasty of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing. It is a unique representative of the liquor culture for the Yangtze River Valley. Location: Site of Cellar Cluster for Luzhou Laojiao Daqu Liquor, Luzhou City, Coordinates: N28 41 60-28 57 43 E105 19 36-E105 33 5.

Sites for Liquor Making in China

Sites for Liquor Making in China — consisting of five different sites: 1) Li Du Liquor Making Site in Jiangxi Province; 2) LiuLing Workshop, Xushui County in Hebei Province; and 3) Shuijingjie Workshop, Chengdu City; 4) Cellar Cluster for Luzhou Laojiao Daqu Liquor, Luzhou City, and Tianyi Workshop for Jiannanchu Alcohol, Mianzhu City, all three in Sichuan Province — were nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Liu Ling Zui Liquor Making Site offers important witness for the research on Chinese traditional techniques of tequila brewing production, and the development, creation process in the future. Li Du Liquor Making Site, with the discovered cellars, wells, slots, cooking ranges, airing halls, distilling facilities and other relics, has witnessed the whole process of strong white spirit brewing in China. Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site is the material carrier of the essence of Chinese "thick aroma" spirits brewing craftwork, of which the abundant sorts of traces and unearthed relics have provided evidences for traditional Chinese brewage culture. Furthermore, based on the traditional brewage technology, the present "thick aroma" spirits are continuously absorbing and perfect the essences, carrying on and making innovations of the unique connotation of Chinese liquor culture. Luzhou Daqu Liquor Making Site bears a unique testimony to a cultural tradition. The folk culture and traditions that facilitated the formation of the wine culture in this region are especially diverse and peculiar and they in turn can be reflected by social, historical and cultural milieu of people living in this region. The unearthed relics in Jian Nan Chun Liquor Making Site are magnificent in scale and bountiful in brewage heritage. The discovery of these relics gives us a vivid picture of brewage procedures hundreds of years ago. [Source: State Administration of Cultural Heritage, People’s Republic of China]

“The discovered relics in Liu Ling Zui Liquor Making Site constitute a set of intact, peculiar sight of traditional tequila workshop. In Li Du Liquor Making Site, the glazed pottery vats with the edge built with laying bricks and distilling facilities built with laying bricks are unique to Chinese alcohol sites and also provide an example of the global alcohol brewing. Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site represents an exemplification of science and technology combination which has a unique style, regional characteristics and cultural values. With the core of traditional distillery craftwork, the site, along with the ancient bodegas which have been used for hundreds of years, is not only the carrier and mine of brewing microbes, but also the scarce material for researching the brewing microbes and the changes of brewage craftworks, as well as the representative of solid biotechnology engineering, hence it has very important scientific values. Besides, the site represents the entire craftwork flow from distiller's yeast making, brewage, lees supplement and materials arrangement to storage, blending, etc., and represents the scientificity and rationality of Chinese liquor brewing technology. Luzhou Daqu Liquor Making Site can serve as an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural ensemble or landscape to illustrate (a) significant stage(s) in human history. Especially from mid Qing Dynasty to early Republic of China, this was a period when Luzhou Daqu had accounted for an unprecedented large share of the city's economy.

“Jian Nan Chun Liquor Making Site also witnessed unique techniques such as batch operation, ferment preparation, fermentation, distillation, flavouring and storage, etc., which cannot be displaced, imitated or copied. In the case of Li Du Liquor Making Site, Because of the prosperity of Lidu alcohol industry, some local cultural forms became flourishing, such as literature, calligraphy and music. The discovery of Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site has provided a powerful material evidence for researching the developing processes of Chinese liquor brewing craftwork and the traditional Chinese liquor culture. No liquor, no ritual. The traditional Chinese liquor culture is bearing the important content of the traditional Chinese Li (ritual) Culture. Meanwhile, the site has important meanings for researching the history and culture in Sichuan area, the social and economic statuses, folkways and folk-customs form ancient times to modern times. So the site is in accordance with the standard vi of the world cultural heritage assessment. Luzhou Daqu is also directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. So far, in Luzhou there have been many liquor-praising poems, legends, songs, dances and folk traditions that are a direct indication of the rich liquor culture in this region.”

Yibin

Yibin (25 kilometers south of Zigong and 200 kilometers south of Chengdu) is a city at the confluence of the Min and Yangtze Rivers with a population of 4.4 million people. Yibin has three bridges over the Chang Jiang section of the Yangtze and ten bridges over the Jinsha. It is connected to Chongqing and Chengdu by rail and express highway and close to borders of Yunnan and Guizhou and is convenient jumping off point for several destinations

One traveler wrote in in the China Daily: Yibin “is a city of many unique features. For ordinary Chinese, it is synonymous with Wuliangye, a famous liquor that has been produced for more than 600 years. Besides Wuliangye, there are another 1,000 distilleries in the city, making it China's largest liquor producer. For geographers, it is the first city to be found in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

“For archaeologists, the 200 hanging coffins of the ancient Bo people scattered in caves in Gongxian county are a continuing mystery. It remains unclear why or who placed the coffins in the 26-to 200-meter-tall cliffs. Yibin was inhabited by the Bo people in large numbers before the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.) (221-206 B.C.). Archaeologists believe that there are more hanging coffins in Yibin than anywhere else in the world. For nature-lovers and tourists, the city is best known for its 120-sq- kilometers bamboo forests, commonly known as the Bamboo Sea. [Source: China Daily, June 25, 2009]

Xingwen Stone Forest (50 kilometers southeast of Yibin) features beautiful karst scenery similar to than in Guilin and the stone forest near Kunming. Xingwen Karst Geopark is located in Xingwen County, Yibin City, at a transitional zone between the Sichuan Basin and the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and is home to both the Bo and Miao nationalities.

Covering roughly 156 square kilometers, the geopark is made up of four scenic areas; 1) the Surface Karstand Ground Caves Scenic Area, 2) Mount Lingxiaoshan Scenic Area, 3) Mount Bowangshan Scenic Area and 4) Tai'an Karst Forest Scenic Area. Admission: 90 yuan (day view); 30 yuan (night view); Location: Shihai Town, Xingwen County, Yibin City, Sichuan Province Tel: +86-831-8999999. Getting There: By Bus: Catch a bus from Wenxing County to Xingwen Geopark; the ride is about 20 minutes long.

Bo People Hanging Coffins (50 kilometers south of Yibin) are found in Gongxian County. Hanging coffins are an ancient funeral custom of some ethnic groups, especially the Bo people of southern China. Coffins of various shapes were mostly carved from one whole piece of wood. Hanging coffins either lie on beams projecting outward from vertical faces such as mountains, are placed in caves in the face of cliffs, or sit on natural rock projections on mountain faces. [Source: Wikipedia]

It was said that the hanging coffins could prevent bodies from being taken by beasts and also bless the soul eternally. Spiritually, the Bo people viewed the mountain cliffs as a stairway to heaven and believed that by placing the coffins up high the deceased would be closer to heaven. A practical reason for placing the coffins on cliffs includes isolation, so that they are hard for animals to reach and less vulnerable to destruction.

Sea of Bamboos of South Sichuan

Sea of Bamboos (68 kilometers southeast of Yibin City) is an an extraordinary natural bamboo forest, covering a total area of 60,000 mu (4,000 hectares), including 500 hills. Located at the junction of Changning and Jiang’an Countries, it was named by Huang Tingjian, a poet of the Song Dynasty (960-1279.

The Bamboo Forest scenic area, situated at an elevation ranging from 600 meters to 1,000 meters, has 58 different bamboo types. Strong and dense, from a distance they seem to resemble a green ocean. The scenic area also features mountains, rivers, karst caves, lakes and falls. In the middle of the forest you find many cultural relics and historical sites, such as the Bamboo Forest Museum, the old folk residences on Mount Xijia and fish fossils.

The China Daily traveler wrote: “Hailed as one of the country's 10 most beautiful forests, the Bamboo Sea, where the average temperature is 15 C in winter, is an ideal tourism destination at this time of the year when many parts of the country are covered with snow and ice....The forest is composed of more than 500 bamboo-covered hills in addition to lakes, streams and waterfalls. Walking along a corridor of lush bamboo as tall as 10 meters at the entrance to the Bamboo Sea was an immediately invigorating experience and did not, in the least, feel cold. "The Bamboo Sea has become a popular tourist attraction after the Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was partly shot here in 2001," says Yang Min, a local guide. [Source: China Daily, June 25, 2009]

“As winter is the sluggish season for tourism, there were very few visitors to the tranquil Bamboo Sea. We could only hear birds singing, streams murmuring and the echo of our own footsteps while walking in the groves. Beside a bubbling stream, I was excited to see two bamboo trees thriving in the narrow cleft of two huge rocks. "Bamboo shoots are so powerful that they can penetrate rocks and topple stones as they grow," Yang says. "A bamboo shoot can grow as much as half-a-meter in a day in spring under the right conditions."

“In addition to the beautiful natural scenery, the Bamboo Sea boasts many sites of historic and cultural significance. The bets known of these are the Celestial Dwelling Cave and the Xijiashan Residence. Built in 1259, the cave on a precipitous cliff is known for a combined Taoist and Buddhist temple. Here, tourists can see the Buddha sitting together with two Taoist gods governing wealth and birth. "Locals believe worshippers here are doubly blessed," says Yang. Covering more than 10,000 square meters, Xijiashan was first built in 1620. Made mainly of wood, the completely preserved 123-room residence, with many carvings featuring classical Chinese novels and legends, is a rare construction in Sichuan.

“What makes it unique is the cluster of tens of thousands of egrets. Each year, the egrets arrive on the morning of March 8 and leave on the fifth morning after the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. According to local chronicles, the phenomenon has lasted several hundred years and nobody knows why.

As dusk fell, we had dinner in a small restaurant in the Bamboo Sea. It was a banquet of bamboo-our palates were treated to six distinctive dishes, including cold bamboo shoot slices in sauce, roasted bitter bamboo shoots and rice cooked in bamboo. The meal cost the five of us about 150 yuan (US$20). As we had never eaten so much bamboo at one sitting, we joked that we had become like giant pandas. Fully satiated, we were put up for the night in the Bamboo Sea Hotel and fell asleep immediately as it was so quiet.

“Waking up early the next morning, almost all of us said it was the best sleep we had ever had. Before leaving the Bamboo Sea, we visited the Bamboo Sea Museum. The 0.7-hectare museum displays all the 58 bamboo species of the Bamboo Sea and ancient bamboo utensils and handicrafts. About 10,000 bamboo trees introduced from different parts of the country grow at the museum.” Location: Q11 County Rd, Changning, Yibin, Sichuan;

Admission: 85 yuan (US$13.43) per person.

Xichang Launch Center and Ancient Town

Xichang Launch Center (in Liangshan in southwestern Sichuan Province, 400 kilometers south-southeast of Chengdu) is where many of China's satellites are launched. It has its own museum and tourists are encouraged to come and check it out Describing the launches one local told the Los Angeles Times, “There's fire. Smoke. The ground shakes, the windows rattle, some dogs howl. But most of us don't bother to go out and look. It's clearer on TV." Web Site: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide

Xichang Ancient Town has a a history of more than 2,000 years, is also considered to be a historically and culturally important city. There are many historic sites, such as Tucheng Monuments of the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220), Hanque, the White Tower of the Tang Dynasty (618-906), the Datong Gate, etc

Admission: Xichang Ancient Town: free; Xichang Satellite Launch Center: 85 yuan; Muhu Lake: 50 yuan; Getting There: You can take a taxi or take part in a tour group.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, Nolls China Web site; CNTO; Perrochon photo site; Beifan.com; University of Washington; Ohio State University; UNESCO; Wikipedia; Julie Chao photo site

Text Sources: CNTO (China National Tourist Organization), China.org, UNESCO, reports submitted to UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, China Daily, Xinhua, Global Times, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020


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