Qingcheng Huanglongxi Historic Town (40 kilometers southeast of Chengdu) faces . Facing the Jinjiang River to the east and nestles against Muma Mountain to the north.It was a large military stronghold for the ancient Shu Kingdom. The head of the Shu Han State in the Three Kingdoms period was seated in Huanglongxi, and for some time, the general government offices for Renshou, Pengshan, and Huayang counties were also located here. The ancient town has preserved the Qing dynasty architectural style, as seen in the design of its streets, shops, and buildings.
Anren Historic Town (in Dayi County, 40 kilometers west of Chengdu) was the hometown of Liu Wencai, a Qing dynasty warlord, landowner and millionaire. His 27 historic mansions have been well preserved and turned into museums. Three old streets built during the Republic of China period are still being used today by residents. Museums in Anren have a rich collection of more of than 8 million pieces of relics and artifacts. A museum dedicated to the memorial of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake was built in 2010.
Liu's Manor Museum (in Anren) is the former residence of the Liu family and the big landlord Liu Wencai. It covers an area of 70,000 square meters, and consists of two big architecture groups. The buildings are very luxurious, and include various shapes such as rectangles, squares and terraces. It was converted into a museum in October 1958. It now houses an extensive collection of over 27,000 cultural relics, including a suit of rosewood desks and chairs with marbles in it. In addition, 8 of them are embedded with 27 colorful pearls. The manor exhibits the life of Liu Wencai, which consisted of four parts, and shows the day-to-day life of the affluent landlord. The museum is an ideal place to learn about Neoteric and Modern Chinese history. Hours Open: 8:00am-5:00pm Admission: 50 yuan;- Getting There: take a bus from Chengdu Railway Station or Jinsha Bus Station to Anren, the price is 10 yuan;
Jianchuan Museum Cluster
Jianchuan Museum Cluster (in Anren, 50 kilometers west of Chengdu) consists of 15 museums which showcase China's largest private collection of artifacts amassed during the last 60–70 years mainly founder, Dr. Fan Jianchuan, the museum’s founder. The complex features more than two million historical and cultural artefacts housed in a complex covering two square kilometers. The museums are organized by four major themes: Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), the ‘Red Era’, the Wenchuan earthquake, and Folklore & Culture.
Julie Makinen wrote in Los Angeles Times: Jianchuan Museum Cluster is “a sprawling complex”that cost an estimated US$200 million. “Besides the Red Era buildings, the cluster includes museums focusing on other politically sensitive events; seven look at the 1931-45 Sino-Japanese War, and three focus on the 2008 earthquake here in Sichuan province that killed more than 68,000 people. A visit to the complex is dizzying. Each building is several thousand square feet, and is dedicated to its niche, be it Mao badges or propaganda mirrors, or the contributions of the American Flying Tigers during the Sino-Japanese War. A visitor could spend three days here and not see everything. [Source: Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2012]
“Fan Jianchuan has embarked on a quest to collect, preserve and display millions of objects, documents and recordings from the Cultural Revolution: photos, diaries, letters, pots and pans, marriage certificates, a piano. Fan's real passion was collecting. Among his holdings, amassed through a network of antique dealers as well as donations, are two tons of Mao badges; 30 tons of written self-criticisms, in which Chinese were forced to criticize their behavior or thinking; 100 tons of newspapers; more than 100,000 music recordings; thousands of videotapes; and 100,000 letters.
“Hundreds of private museums have sprouted up in China in the last decade as the nation's nouveaux riches have built pavilions to showcase their collections of paintings or porcelain and assert their status. But Fan is one of the few who has dared to focus on history, let alone the recent past...Fan may keep interpretive signage to a minimum, but the physical design of his displays often conveys powerful messages.”
Many “touchy subjects” are addressed. “One is the Great Leap Forward, Mao's 1958-61 attempt at rapid industrialization that ended in massive famine. He's also gathering items on contemporary problems, such as migrant workers, food safety and the 2011 high-speed train crash in Wenzhou that killed 40 people and exposed corruption in the nation's public railway system. "When the Sanlu tainted milk powder incident broke out, I rushed to the supermarket and told the shop assistant, 'My baby enjoys eating Sanlu.' So I was able to buy two boxes," Fan said. "After the Wenzhou train accident, we were able to collect some doors and windows from the wreckage."
“In a country where offering a perspective that veers from the party line can bring harsh consequences — activists, artists and others have faced detention, fines and surveillance for speaking out or appealing what they say are unfair decisions by local authorities — Fan regards the fact that he's been allowed to proceed as a heartening sign of progress.”
Red-Era Museums at the Jianchuan Museum Cluster
Julie Makinen wrote in Los Angeles Times: “From floor to ceiling, wall to wall, the narrow entry corridor at the Red Era Daily Necessities Museum is bathed in a blood-red light. There is no map, no brochure, no choice of direction; the architecture forces visitors forward, over glowing panels labeled by year: 1966. 1967. 1968. A few dozen paces later: 1976.A roar comes from a sea of Red Guards in Tiananmen Square, chanting rabidly, captured in a film clip from the era. Mao Tse-tung strides into the frame, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. [Source: Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2012]
“The dawn of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 brought a decade of chaos, violence and persecution that ripped China apart. Friends denounced friends, parading them in dunce caps through the streets. Roving mobs smashed religious relics to bits. Mao was elevated to the status of a god, his face stamped onto billions of lapel pins worn like talismans. Then it was over. The Communist Party declared it all a grave error. Even now, authorities and many average citizens have no stomach for looking back on the era.
“Zhang Ming, a professor in the political science department at People's University in Beijing, said Fan's interest in topics such as the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward helps fill a void left by the state. "The government is not interested in these issues," Zhang said. "If you look at the Communist Party's 60 years of rule in China, there are 30 years they don't want to talk about."
Other than his kindergarten report card, the first things Fan can remember collecting were printed denunciations of his father. He was 9 years old. "In 1966, my dad was attacked. He lost his freedom. He was criticized," Fan recalled. "He needed me to gather up any brochures, notices or posters that contained information about him, to show it to him," so he could minimize the damage to his reputation.
“The Red Era Mirror Museum — featuring thousands of wall mirrors imprinted with various propaganda slogans that were manufactured during the Cultural Revolution and displayed in people's homes — is a disorienting maze reminiscent of a boardwalk-style Hall of Mirrors. Visitors gazing into the reflecting glass can see how even a simple act like checking one's appearance became an opportunity for the state to impart a lesson.
“But not all of Fan's carefulness can be chalked up to a need to dance around official red lines. Those who lived through the Cultural Revolution have varying perspectives on how to assess what transpired. “A woman in her 60s from Jiangsu province, touring the Mao Badges museum with her husband, said she worked in a factory during the Cultural Revolution, and recalled with a smile that she had a small Mao badge while the bosses had big ones. Asked how she looks back on that period now, the woman hesitated. Her husband shot her a stern look. "It's just Chinese history," she said, evasively. "I can't comment on it." Her husband interjected: "We have a good life now." Quickly drawing conclusions about an event that touched 800 million people and twisted through 10 years will take a long time, Fan says. "As long as the relics are here, in 10, 20, 30 years," he said, "the history will get clearer and clearer."
Man Behind the Jianchuan Museum Cluster
Julie Makinen wrote in Los Angeles Times: Jianchuan,Fan “is one of China's most obsessive collectors and one of its wealthiest men. Since 2005, he has used his fortune and savvy to open five museums devoted to different aspects of what he calls the "Red Era." Construction of a sixth has just been completed, and he envisions a total of 12.“"From my museum, you can understand the degree of opening and reform," said Fan, 55, sipping tea and puffing through a pack of Yellow Crane Tower cigarettes. "I want to do things actively, but I want to keep it stable.... Even when I'm talking to you now, I feel butterflies in my stomach. Because if anything in your article is too ahead of its time, it might cause trouble for the museum." [Source: Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2012]
“He paused. "But that's not the most important reason why I became a collector. My dad also told me I had to be responsible, to contribute to society and not be afraid to take risks. That influenced me greatly." “Dressed in camouflage pants and a black T-shirt, Fan talked passionately about his childhood in Sichuan, and his teenage years, when he earned 9 cents a day growing sweet potatoes, rice and corn as one of millions of educated "intellectual youth" forced into rural labor.
“Later, Fan parlayed a teaching job at a military college into a position as vice mayor of a small town. But in the early 1990s, he quit. After working for a Hong Kong businessman for about a year, Fan borrowed money from friends and a bank to build hotels and commercial and residential properties. By 2007, he ranked No. 397 on the Hurun Report's China Rich List, with his wealth pegged at US$270 million.
“Fan said the idea for the museums began to gestate in 2000, and in 2002 he obtained 80 acres in Anren. In 2005, he opened the Museum Cluster and has been expanding it continuously. "In the beginning I thought museums were so sacred that only the country can build museums," Fan said. "Then I realized my relics are not any worse than the National Museum's collections." Fan's wealth and party connections haven't hurt him, and some say his remote location has given him more latitude.
“At times, supporters in provincial-level positions have looked the other way. Fan has also embraced specific strategies to deal with potential objections. For starters, the cluster has a motto, displayed on placards: "We don't speak, we let history speak." Introductions are kept brief, with few sweeping statements citing death tolls or other statistics. Fan also takes care to avoid hot-button words, hence the "Red Era" in the museum names, instead of "Cultural Revolution." Instead of drawing up plans and submitting them for approval, Fan builds first and then sees if anyone will try to stand in his way."From what I know, he didn't have to say exactly what he was building," Zhang said. "He just started to build, and when he wanted to add something he did it in a way that was not very direct."”
Tianyi Workshop for Jiannanchun Alcohol
Site of Tianyi Workshop for Jiannanchun Alcohol (75 kilometers north 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: “Jian Nan Chun is the Da Qu liquor produced in Mianzhu since the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) (A.D 1616-1911), the history of which dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-906) (A.D 618-907). Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery, which is still in production, and its surrounding relics, are located west to the downtown Mianzhu City and distributing over several places such as Chapan Street, Qipan Street and Gunzipo. [Source: State Administration of Cultural Heritage, People’s Republic of China]
“Jian Nan Chun Liquor Making Site consists of the abandoned part of "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery and the workshop owner's housing architecture. There are varied unearthed relics in aspect of white alcoholic brewage technique: fermentation cellar, oven, well, airing hall, barn, ditch, immersion pool, distillation facilities and wine set, etc. The total area of the relics is about 1,500 square meters. There are also relics of other workshops, which were established at the same time with "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery relics, in an area of 120,000 square meters.
“Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery relics is a cluster of broadly-scattering Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) featured distilleries, that are well established and carefully maintained, some of which are run down by generations. The well-maintained workshops and relics show us the whole spectacular picture of making Chinese liquor since the early Qing Dynasty (1644–1911): raw material immersion, cooking, ferment preparation, ferment mixing, fermentation, distilling, brewing, discharging waste water, etc. The discovery of the relics not only enriches the archaeological study on Chinese urban industry, also provides concrete proof for the history of brewing the supreme quality liquor, Jian Nan Chun.
“It is approved by archaeological exploration and excavation that Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery relics has rich brewage relics, including pit, airing hall, well, barn and oven, etc. The area is about 1,200 square meters. Beside "Tian Yi Lao Hao", there are other brewage relics of Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) in area of over 100,000 square meters; the underground brewage relics and the supporting installation are fully maintained. The relics' structure is almost complete except for the seizing modern buildings, which are under removal from Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" and surrounding distillery relics. Some relics are under excavation. The "Tian Yi Lao Hao" is under repair and protection. Besides protective exhibition, most of the excavated relics are protected in an underground sealing condition. The plan is to restore and exhibit part of the old workshop by excavation. The Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" relics maintains the good authenticity and integrity. The masterplan for the conservation of this site was worked out in January, 2006. According to this masterplan, the area of the key protection zone is 0.145 hectare, the general protection zone 0.645 hectare and the construction control zone is about 4 hectare.
“Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery and its relics, compared with other brewing relics, are greatly featured. The liquor made by Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery is excellent region-featured Chinese aromatic liquor. Its brewing technique has been handed down from generation to generation. Its history has been clearly recorded, which is indicating there were lots of historic events about it.
The relics spread a large area of about 120,000 square meters, composed by several street-side workshop clusters in a "shop at front, pit at back" style. The relics contain rich heritage and entire production factors, revealing the whole process from raw material storage, cooking, ferment preparation, ferment mixing, spreading and airing to distilling, which is the only one among China's famous distillery relics. The Da Qu pit and Xiao Qu pit both are in one site; different pits producing different liquors. No distillery relics like this had been found in the previous archaeological discoveries. In that the modern buildings are not taking much seizure and the underground relics are well maintained, it will do good to the further excavation, protection and exhibition of the site. Location: Site of Tianyi Workshop for Jiannanchu Alcohol, Mianzhu City, Sichuan Province, N30 09-31 42 E103 54-104 20.
Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Dujiangyan Dujiangyan Irrigation System (60 kilometers northwest Chengdu) is an ancient project that contains several dams, canals and water diversion schemes that turned this part of Sichuan into the "land of abundance." Situated on the Min River and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dujiangyan was launched by Governor Li Bing of the Qin State in 256 B.C., during China's Warring States Period (476-221 B.C.). Dujiangyan Dujiangyan is the oldest and the only preserved dam-free water diversion irrigation infrastructure in the world.
Dujiangyan is the only existing ancient hydro-power project, featuring diversions without a dam, in the world. It is widely regarded as the "ancestor" of the world's hydro-power culture, with a history dating back over 2,200 years. It also functions as a means for preventing floods and plain shipping. It is still in use today, irrigating over 5,300 square kilometers of the region's land. Dujiangyan is known as one of the "three great hydraulic engineering projects of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.)." The other two are the Zhengguo Canal in Shaanxi Province and the Lingqu Canal in Guangxi Province.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Construction of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System began in the 3rd century B.C, and it was built by Qin Libing and his son to solve problems of diverting water for irrigation and flood which is comparable to Baojiatun Ancient Irrigation System. The Dujiangyan Irrigation System consists of a dam working area and an irrigated area. It is mainly based on diversion and irrigation, and has comprehensive effects such as flood control and sediment discharge, water transportation and urban water supply. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]
Dujiangyan Irrigation System consists of three main constructions. These constructions were well built in order to prevent flooding and to keep the farmland well supplied with water. Dujiangyan is large town. Besides the irrigation project there are many well-known scenic spots around Dujiangyan such as Two Kings Temple, Dragon-Taming Temple and Anlan Suspension Bridge. Anlan Suspension Bridge, one of the Five Ancient Bridges of China, was rebuilt in 1974 with reinforced concrete and steel, and decreased the height by 100 meters. had a plan to allow eight contemporary artists — including Zhang Xiaogang, Wu Guanzhong and Yue Minjun — to open up their own museums on an 18-acre plot of land. The plans for this project were disrupted by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Travel Information: Dujiangyan is also one of China's better-known touristic spots, with many historic sites surrounding the area. In late July according to the lunar calendar, Dujiangyan holds many activities in Two Kings Temple including local operas. Admission: 90 yuan (US$14.22) per person; Getting There: 1) By Bus: You can take bus No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 102, 103, 201 to Dujiangyan. 2) By Express Railway: take express railway from Chengdu City to Dujiangyan. The prices are from 5 yuan to 15 yuan. 3) By Coach: take coach at Chengdu Chazidian Bus station and get off at Dujiangyan Passenger Center. The price is 16.5 yuan per person. UNESCO World Heritage Site site: UNESCO Web Site: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ;
Mount Qingcheng and Dujiangyan: UNESCO World Heritage Site
Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. According to UNESCO: “ Construction of the Dujiangyan irrigation system began in the 3rd century B.C. This system still controls the waters of the Minjiang River and distributes it to the fertile farmland of the Chengdu plains. Mount Qingcheng was the birthplace of Taoism, which is celebrated in a series of ancient temples. [Source: UNESCO]
The Dujiangyan irrigation system, located in the western portion of the Chengdu flatlands at the junction between the Sichuan basin and the Tibetan Plateau, is an ecological engineering feat originally constructed around 256 B.C. Modified and enlarged during the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, it uses natural topographic and hydrological features to solve problems of diverting water for irrigation, draining sediment, flood control, and flow control without the use of dams.
Today the system comprises two parts: the Weir Works, located at an altitude of 726m, the highest point of the Chengdu plain 1 kilometers from Dujiangyan City, and the irrigated area. Three key components of the Weir Works control the water from the upper valley of the Minjiang River: the Yuzui Bypass Dike, the Feishayan Floodgate, and the Baopingkou Diversion Passage. Together with ancillary embankments and watercourses including the Baizhang Dike, the Erwang Temple Watercourse and the V-Shaped Dike, these structures ensure a regular supply of water to the Chengdu plains. The system has produced comprehensive benefits in flood control, irrigation, water transport and general water consumption. Begun over 2,250 years ago, it now irrigates 668,700 hectares of farmland.
The site is important because: 1) “The Dujiangyan Irrigation System, begun in the 2nd century B.C., is a major landmark in the development of water management and technology, and is still discharging its functions perfectly.” 2) “ The immense advances in science and technology achieved in ancient China are graphically illustrated by the Dujiangyan Irrigation System.”
Dujiangyan and the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008
The historic city of Dujiangyan was badly damaged by the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008 and was one of hardest hit large population centers. More than 10 percent of the buildings were destroyed, including a high school, where 900 students were attending mid-afternoon classes, and a large market. Describing the scene there three days after the quake, AP reported: “police and militias...pulverized rubble with cranes and backhoes while crews used shovels to pick around larger pieces of debris. On one side street, about a dozen bodies were laid on the sidewalk, while incense sticks placed in a pile of sand sent smoke in the air as a tribute and to dull the stench of death."
Lin Yang of Time reported; “Buildings are now just heaps of brick and concrete and corpses lie on the sidewalks. The rescue operation resembles an army assault. Military vehicles, ambulances and mobile kitchen are everywhere, Soldiers search for survivors in the debris and step in to control emotional crowds of victims’ relatives. Through the night loudspeaker-equipped trucks cruised the streets, appealing for calm: “The State Council, the Central Committee, the Sichuan, Chengdu and Dujiangyan governments are trying their best to help. Earthquakes are not something that mankind can avoid."---
A 70-year-old man in Dujiangyan who was looking for his grandson in the rubble of a school told Time, “After the quake hit, I ran to the school and started removing rubble, I uncovered several children. Some we dead, some still alive, But I couldn't find my grandson."
A survivor in Dujiangyan told AP, “When the earthquake happened, our home collapsed really quickly, and I heard my father yell, “Help, help, help." Another told the Yomirui Shimbun. “The sudden violent jolt from beneath me really shocked me. It felt like my heart was popping out of my body."
Qingcheng Shan (60 kilometers west of Chengdu) is a 1,600-meter-high "Green City Mountain," with 108 temples, monasteries and pavilions scattered among its craggy peaks and lofty trees. Zhang Daolin, a founder of Taoism, used to preach here so this place is sometimes considered the birthplaces of Taoism, one of the most influential religions of East Asia over a long period of history.
Located to the southwest of Dujiangyan, Mount Qingcheng faces the Sichuan Plai and Minjiang River, and extends over an area of 200 square kilometers. It has 36 peaks, eight large caves and 72 small caves. Its main peak, Laoxiao Peak, rises up to 1,260 meters. Many temples can be found here. Criterion (vi): The temples of Mount Qingcheng are closely associated with the foundation of Taoism,
In 2000, UNESCO included Mount Qingcheng, together with the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, on its World Heritage List. According to UNESCO: Mount Qingcheng, dominating the Chengdu plains to the south of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, is a mountain famous in Chinese history as the place where in 142 CE the philosopher Zhang Ling founded the doctrine of Chinese Taoism. Most of the essential elements of Taoism culture are embodied in the teachings of Taoism that emanated from the temples that were subsequently built on the mountain during the Jin and Tang dynasties. The mountain resumed its role as the intellectual and spiritual centre of Taoism in the 17th century. The eleven important Taoist temples on the mountain reflect the traditional architecture of western Sichuan and include the Erwang Temple, the Fulong Temple, the Changdao Temple built over the place where Zhang Ling preached his doctrines, and the Jianfu Palace (formerly the Zhangren Temple). UNESCO World Heritage Site site: UNESCO Web Site: Travel China Guide (click attractions) Travel China Guide Admission: 90 yuan (US$14.22) per person.
Wolong Nature Reserve: Home of the Giant Panda
Wolong Nature Reserve (120 kilometers northwest of Chengdu, two hour by bus from Chengdu) is the panda reserve most visited by Western scientists and tourists. The terrain is rugged and the bamboo forest are so dense that likelihood of seeing a panda in the wild is rare. Tourists are often restricted from going much of anywhere anyway. Most visitors stay close to the big research center and veterinary hospital. Wolong means “sleeping dragon."
Set up in 1963, Wolong Reserve covers 500,000 acres (800 square miles) and is home to about 150 pandas as well 20 kinds of reptile, 280 species of bird and 4,000 species of plant . Among the 96 mammal species are endangered golden monkeys, which travel in groups up to 300 animals; takin, a strange looking animal related to the musk ox; and tufted deer, which have odd-looking, protruding canine teeth. Around 3,000 people, most of then members of the Tibetan-like Qiang minority, farm some of the slopes in the reserve.
Wolong is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hikes of varying length are available in the park along clear streams and mountains ridges and through pine forests. Occasionally people catch glimpses of panda droppings. Web Site: Travel China Guide (click attractions) Travel China Guide UNESCO World Heritage Site site UNESCO Accommodation : Wolong village is home to 5,000 people and has hotels and restaurants.
Panda Nature Reserves: More than half of the estimated 1,000 giant pandas in the wild live in 12 Panda Reserves established by the Chinese. Ten of these reserves are located in Sichuan province, mostly in remote areas in mountains between Chengdu and the Tibetan plateau. Five reserves are situated in the Min Mountains north of Chengdu; three more, including Wolong Natural Reserve, are west of Chengdu; and two are south of Chengdu.
Getting There: Wolong is accessible by car or bus by Chengdu. Wolong Panda Center is 120 kilometers outside of Chengdu by road. It takes about three hours to get there by public bus. Buses operate to Wolong Town from Chadianzi Bus Station in Chengdu's Jinniu District. It is more convenient to get there with a car and driver that can generally be arranged at your hotel or guest house of through a travel agency. In the old days it took nine hours to reach Wolong by bus from Chengdu on a rough, twisting mountain road that was often undergoing repairs. People that hired a car and driver could reach it four or five hours. Later a paved road was built that reduced the travel time to only two hours. That road unfortunately was destroyed by the 2008 earthquake but has since been repaired and rerouted. The alternative road requires crossing two mountain passes.
Hetaoping Research Center in Wolong
Hetaoping Research Center(an hour from the entrance to Wolong Nature Reserve) has bred dozens of pandas and has introduced some to the wild. As of late 2007, 128 of the 239 giant pandas in captivity in the world were at Hetaoping, the majority of which were bred in captivity there. A few years ago they were kept in barred cages, But these days they can roam around in large open pens and look genuinely happy. Facilities at the research center include a panda hospital and food preparation area. Most pandas are fed wo tu---a coarse, nutritious cake made with rice and corn that was invented at the center.
Nestled between forested mountains and a rushing river, Hetaoping research center is a maze of bushes, trees, concrete sidewalks, red brick and white tile buildings and research areas. There are signs and explanations in English as well as Chinese what each place is. In one building females that are pregnant or suspected of being pregnant are kept in special pens, where they can be closely monitored.
Tourists often gather around at play area to take photographs if the pandas. The young pandas are the most popular. They and the adults are most active in the mornings. The outdoor nursery for the panda cubs resembles a playground. It has a set of monkey bar, a seesaw, a swing and a yellow plastic rocking horse that stands 30 feet tall.
Visitors can pay US$133 to enter a pasture with pandas and play with them for a few minutes. To protect the pandas visitor are sprayed with antiseptic and wear sterile gloves, booties and gowns. But there is nothing to protect the visitors who are often knocked by the surprisingly strong and rambunctious pandas. For US$53 visitors can have their picture taken with a panda, who usually munches a piece of bamboo.
The research center now has a basic but comfortable hotel and a special walking trail set up to offer good views of the pandas in their pens, which very closely resemble the panda's natural habitat. There is a small museum and English-speaking can be hired for a few dollars. Wolong is supported by money from the Chinese forestry department and fees its earns from visitors.
Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries-Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains
Among the 1,800 giant pandas in the wild, about 85 percent are in Sichuan. Among China’s 19 panda natural reserves, 17 are in Sichuan. Wolong is one of the world’s largest nature reserves and reproduction centers for pandas.Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries-Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 2006. According to UNESCO: “ The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary includes more than 30 percent of the world’s population of giant Panda and constitutes the largest and most significant remaining contiguous area of panda habitat in the world. It is the most important source of giant panda for establishing the captive breeding population of the species. The property is also one of the botanically richest sites of any temperate region in the world or indeed anywhere outside of the tropical rain forests. Underlining the outstanding value is that it protects a wide variety of topography, geology, and plant and animal species. The property has exceptional value for biodiversity conservation and can demonstrate how ecosystem management systems can work across the borders of national and provincial protected areas. [Source: UNESCO]
“Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries...covers 924,500 hectares with seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains. The sanctuaries constitute the largest remaining contiguous habitat of the giant panda, a relict from the paleo-tropic forests of the Tertiary Era. It is also the species' most important site for captive breeding. The sanctuaries are home to other globally endangered animals such as the red panda, the snow leopard and clouded leopard. They are among the botanically richest sites of any region in the world outside the tropical rainforests, with between 5,000 and 6,000 species of flora in over 1,000 genera. Associated Press
“Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries-Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains is principally renowned for its importance for the conservation of the giant panda, recognized as a “National Treasure” in China and as a flagship for global conservation efforts. The property is the largest and most significant remaining contiguous area of panda habitat in China and thus the world. It is also the most important source of giant panda for establishing the captive breeding population of the species.
In addition to the giant panda, the property features a great number of endemic and threatened species of plants and animals, including other iconic mammal species such as the red panda, snow leopard and clouded leopard among the 109 species of mammals recorded (more than 20 percent of all Chinese mammals). The property is an important centre of endemism for some bird taxa with 365 bird species recorded, 300 of which breed locally. However the property is particularly important for flora, being one of the botanically richest sites of any temperate region in the world with some 5,000-6,000 species recorded. Many species are relicts, such as the dove tree, and there is significant diversity in groups such as magnolias, bamboos, rhododendrons, and orchids. The property is a major source and gene pool for hundreds of traditional medicinal plants, many now under threat.
“Located in China’s southeast province of Sichuan in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains between the Chengdu Plateau and the Tibetan-Qinghaian Plateau, the property includes seven nature reserves and eleven scenic parks in four prefectures or cities. It covers a total area of 924,500 hectares surrounded by a buffer zone of 527,100 hectares.”
Conservation at the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries
According to UNESCO: “The boundaries of the property have been designed to maximize the protection of giant panda habitat based on panda survey data carried out in 2003-2004, as well as the distribution of existing natural habitat. Fragmentation of habitat makes it essential that large intact areas of panda habitat are adequately protected and also that green corridors are established to enable movement of panda species and to avoid inbreeding. A number of towns, villages, agriculture land, major infrastructures and sites of high impact tourism have been excluded from the property, leaving enclaves. [Source: UNESCO]
“Integrity issues include the need to enhance integrated monitoring and management capacity across all 18 management units of the property; establish and implement tourism management plans and tourism impact monitoring programmes; review existing infrastructure within the property with a view to better controlling impacts and, where possible, to remove infrastructure and allow habitat restoration with native species; ensure the "Sichuan World Heritage Management Committee" has sufficient powers, resources and authority to ensure it can effectively carry out its role in relation to management of the property; and to closely monitor the impact of the dam at Yaoji, and the associated relocation of people. Reviewing the possibilities for future addition of areas of high nature conservation value to the property, with priority on those areas which are particularly important for panda habitat and which are close to but outside the property (such as the Rongjin Nature Reserve which is as a critical link between the giant panda populations of Quionglaishan and Liangshan), is also recommended.
“The Property is wholly owned by the government of the People’s Republic of China. It is protected under a range of laws and regulations at national and provincial levels, including: Regulations on Wild Plant Protection of the People 's Republic of China (1997): Forest Law of the People 's Republic of China (1998); Environmental Protection Law of the People's Republic of China (2002), Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Nature Reserves (2002);
“A management plan of 2002 aims to ensure that “The biodiversity, ecosystem and habitat of the giant panda will be effectively protected in the World Heritage site and social and economic development of the human population in the area will be harmonized with the natural environment guidelines for the area and for management of different types of use”. It provides a sound framework for site management and conservation.
“The property is currently well-protected and in good condition. Following the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake which measured 8.0 on the Richter scale, a restoration and reconstruction plan for the property has been compiled and implemented. Future management priorities include to progressively increase the level of staffing and resources within all reserves within the property; improve the coordination relationship between all reserves within the property; better support scientific research and education; and maximize the tourism benefit and minimize the tourism impact.”
Jiajin Mountains (100 kilometers west of Chengdu as the crow flies, a few hours by car) is the home of pandas and was the first snow mountain on the route of the Long March and the place where the First Red Army joined forces with the Fourth Red Army. It is now a national forest park known for its rich botanical and zoological resources and pandas. The Jiajin Mountains are is part of the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries-Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 2006.
One person posted in Tripadvisor: I've been up and over Jiajin mountain pass on several occasions on bike and motorcycle. If it’s a clear day you can get amazing views. Its just over 4000 meters so there can be a little snow as late as April. Its much less traveled then the other large pass Balangshan near four sisters so I like it more for that reason. However, many times it can be foggy and you can ride down for a long ways before you get through the clouds.
There are some people selling bbq food at the top and along the way down. That road all the way to Lushan or going the other way to Danba is really nice. I haven't done any hiking there, but I imagine there are plenty of options around the top and on the way down I see some great places.
ShuDao (near Guanyuan, 150 kilometers northeast and east of Chengdu, Coordinates: N32 11 13 E105 32 11) is an ancient road system in Guangyuan, Bazhong, Mianyang, Deyang, Nanchong and Dazhou Prefectures that was was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Lying in the South of Daba and Qinling Mountains, Shudao, the ancient road system connecting Central and mountainous Southwest China for more than 2,300 years, is featured by its marvellous paths wriggling in the precipitous mountains in Northern Sichuan. The heritage route system, together with a variety of associative historical towns, Taoism/Buddhism temples, and other cultural relics, are deeply imbedded in the surrounding magnificent hilly landscapes which are also home to extraordinary biodiversity of global significance including giant panda, takin and Chinese Monal, red panda, giant salamander. The property is a reflection of coevolution of Chinese cultures with harsh mountain environment, and a record of people’s adaptation to and interactions with diversified natural systems in thousands of years. Total area of the property is 3,627 square kilometers, including 2,840 square kilometers as its buffer zone.
ShuDao is: 1) “an outstanding example of cultural exchange and acculturation between Yangtze and Yellow River civilizations Over millennia, ShuDao linked China’s two major civilizations: Yangtze Civilization in South and Yellow River Civilization in North, and has witnessed the historical culture and good exchange between China and India, leaving behind exceptional material cultural remains including cliff inscriptions, historical towns, and various ancient buildings which represent a series of cultural development since 4th Century B.C.
2) It is “a distinctive evidence of ancient courier route system. As the most difficult part of ancient China’s courier route system to deliver governmental and civil posts, ShuDao was the major or even the only access to the China’s most remoteness territories in the Southwest, and played crucial role in formation and unification of the nation for over 2300 years. The ancient post pavilions, stores, stations, gate passes of a variety of ages, as well as sections of well-preserved ancient roads constitute a distinctive evidence of the disappeared historical cultural institution-the ancient courier route system of China Empires.
3) ShuDao is “a distinguished representative of ancient technologies for road construction in mountain landscapes. The sophisticate road paving in rugged hilly landscapes and the delicate methods in building plank paths along the face of scary cliffs are the remarkable demonstrations of ancient transportation technologies. Along the road are tens of thousands Chinese cypress trees, a sacred and huge plant worshiped by most of Chinese, still shadow the passengers. The cypress corridor spread up on the ridges and down to valleys for over 200km, with many of the trees aged more than 1000 years’ old and trunk diameters over 2m, shaping a distinguished visible cultural landscape characteristic to mountainous rural China.
4) It is “directly and tangibly associated with major historical events, ideas and literature works. ShuDao opened China’s vast mountainous Southwestern territories to outside, where was once isolated and inaccessible due to obstruction of Qinling and Daba Mountains. It directly associated with major historical military, social, cultural and economic events, including the unification wars in Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.) (221-206 B.C.) and the Three Kingdoms (220-280 A.D.) the massive population immigrations in Ming and Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) (16th-17th Century A.D.), leaving behind numerous literature works with many of them still eulogized and inscribed in the nation’s collective memories. With these, ShuDao was not just important to the development of China’s civilization, but also contribute to the creation of cultural diversity in modern Asia.
5) ShuDao contains “areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance The proposed property contains a combination of spectacular natural landscapes of karst, Danxia, graben basin, and anticline landforms. With the ancient routes twists up and down, the cultural elements are subtly integrated in natural beauty. Comparing to the South China Karst, the enormous karst peak clusters and steep U shape valleys in Guangwu are exceptionally covered by dense Fagus forests, together with springs, waterfalls hanging on the sky and the colourful rhododendron flowers in misty landscapes, making the area the world’s most astonishing red leave scene especially in autumn.
6) ShuDao contains extra-ordinary biodiversity of global significance. The property area has been recognised as the key area for biodiversity conservation with Global significance (i.e., core area of Yangtze River Basin, one of the 200 eco-regions recognised by WWF, Southwest China Mountains Biodiversity Hotspot recognized by CI and important ecological function zone recognized by China Government). It contains 19 protected areas, and is inhabited by a number of endangered wildlife like giant panda, takin, Chinese Monal, red panda, giant salamander. The population density of wild takin in Tangjiahe is believed to be the highest in the world. In addition, it is also the home of Fagus species of the world, a relic genus once disjunctively distributed around the world. With only one species left in Europe and North America respectively, the property has been the sanctuary of the world’s 45 percent Fagus species, all of them are endemic to China. It also contains the world’s largest primitive Fagus forest (over 15,000 hectares), and is the only habitat of Fagus pashanica dominated forest in the world.
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