SIGHTS IN ZHEJIANG PROVINCE
Putuo Mountain (reached by hydrofoil from Ningbo) is a national park and one of China's four most famous Buddhist mountains. There are numerous historical relics on the beautiful mountain which sits in the sea. The three main temples are constructed in the style of the early Qing dynasty. Mount Putuo lies on one of the Zhoushan Islands off the eastern coast of Zhejiang Province and is associated with Guan Yin (Chinese name of Avalokiteshvara, the female Bodhisattva of compassion and mercy) Along with Mount Emei in Sichuan, Mount Wutai in Shanxi and Mount Jiuhua in Anhui, it is one of the four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism.
Putuo Mountain Island is 8.6 kilometers (5.34 miles) long from north to south, 3.5 kilometers (2.17 miles) wide from west to east and covers an overall area of 12.5 square kilometers (1,250 hectares). It is located in China's Eastern Sea and truly testifies to the timeless beauty of mountains and oceans. Its main peak, the Peak of Buddhist Top, is located at 300 meters above sea level. Putuo Mountain It is one of the first National Key Scenic resorts in China; Admission: 160 yuan (US$25.12) per person (summer); 140 yuan (US$21.98) per person (winter)
Thousand Islands Lake is a 580-square-kilometer reservoir on the upper reaches of the Xin'an River. There are scores of scenic spots on the 1078 islands located in the reservoir. On the shores are the Lesser Stone Forest and Fengping Hill. Thousand Islets Lake (Qian Dao Lake) was formed in 1959 as a result of the construction of the dam for the Xin'anjiang Hydroelectric Power Station. About 81 percent of the area covered in forests, The water in the lake is clean and clear. The average depth of the lake is 34 meters. Scuba divers can explore two underwater towns: Hecheng Town and Shicheng Town, which were submerged by the reservoir. Admission: 150 yuan (US$23.55) per person.
Yiwu (320 kilometers southwest of Shanghai) in central Zhejiang Province is the home of International Trade City, a giant wholesale market with 60,000 wholesale vendors who sell 400,000 items in 1,700 categories to buyers from 180 nations. Most of the items are inexpensive manufactured goods and general consumer merchandise. Around 1,000 container-loads of goods are shipped out of the city very day. Many goods sold at US$1 shops are bought by wholesale buyers from here.
Located in the middle of nowhere, a 160 kilometers from the coast, the market contains so many stalls that it has been estimated that if you visit one shop every minute eight hours a day you'll need two months to visit them all. Yiwi's slogan is “a sea of commodities, a paradise for shoppers." Deal made here affect retail prices around the globe.
About 7,000 foreign businessmen have set up shop in the city. Many of them are Iraqis and other Middle Easterners. For them a former clothing factory has been turned into a mosque. In a district called “Exotic Street” you can find Egyptian, Jordanian and Iraqi restaurant, women in head scarves, and men sitting in street drinking tea and eating kebabs.
Peter Hessler wrote in National Geographic: “traders come from all over the world to buy in bulk. There's a scarf district. A plastic bag market, an avenue where every shop sells elastic. If you're burned out on buttons take a stroll down Binwang Zipper Professional Street...Yiwu attracts so many Middle Eastern traders that one neighborhood has become home to 23 large Arabic restaurants, as well as a Lebanese bakery."
Yiwu was a rural village until the 1980s. Conveniently linked by rail and road to the parts of Ningpo and Shanghai, it took off in 1982 when local authorities set up an open-air market there that is now the “world's largest whole sale market." Yiwu now has a population of over 1.2 million who live mostly in endless rows of new apartment blocks.
Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide
Getting There: Yiwu is accessible by train from new train station that opened in 2006, by bus and by air (it has its own airport). You can get there by a bus that leaves from Pudong Airport in Shanghai. Travel China Guide (click transportation) Travel China Guide
Zisiqiao: China’s No. 1 Snake-Producing Village
Zisiqiao, built along the edge of a canal about 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Shanghai, is a tiny snake breeding village that employed hundreds of people to breed three million snakes a year. The town has been an unlikely centre of China's snake industry for nearly four decades. It is dotted with small factory farms and its "snake culture" museum is a tourist attraction. Snakes form part of the village's informal economy, with families keeping them in backyard holds to sell to restaurants or traditional medicine traders. Dead snakes are preserved in jars at a snake farm in Zisiqiao village In Zisiqiao, snake breeders need a permit. Breeding normally begins in April or May, Winter is the off-season. [Source: David Stanway, Reuters, April 8, 2020]
Royston Chan and Aly Song of Reuters: “This sleepy village nestled in the heart of vast farmland in China's eastern Zhejiang province hides a deadly secret. A step into the homes of any of the farming families here brings visitors eye-to-eye with thousands of some of the world's most feared creatures — snakes, many of them poisonous. Cobras, vipers and pythons are everywhere in Zisiqiao, aptly known as the snake village, where the reptiles are deliberately raised for use as food and in traditional medicine, bringing in millions of dollars to a village that otherwise would rely solely on farming. "As the number one snake village in China, it's impossible for us to raise only one kind of snake," said Yang Hongchang, the 60-year-old farmer who introduced snake breeding to the village decades ago. "We are researching many kinds of snakes and the methods of breeding them." [Source: Reuters, Royston Chan and Aly Song, June 20, 2011]
In 1985, Yang started selling snakes he caught around the area to animal vendors. He soon began to worry that the wild snakes would run out and thus began researching on how to breed snakes at home. Within three years, he had made a fortune — and many other villagers decided to emulate his success. Today, more than three million snakes are bred in the village every year by the 160 farming families. Yang has now started his own company to make his business more formal and build a brand, and also to conduct research and development for his products, which range from dried snake to snake wine and snake powder. "Our original breeding method has been approved and recognised by the province and the county. They see us as the corporation working with the farming families," Yang said. "So the company researches on the snakes and they hand them over to the farms for breeding. They said this model was working very well." The original breeding method was simply putting males and females together, but now meticulous research is done on how the snakes breed, how to select good females, investigation into their diet, and how to incubate eggs so survival rates rise.
Wenzhou (350 kilometers south of Shanghai) is a coastal city in Zhejiang not far from Taiwan. It is ground zero for Zhejiang entrepreneurship. In 2006, 130,000 private businesses earned 96 percent of the city output revenue and paid 70 percent of its taxes. By contrast state-owned enterprises generated only 3 percent of Wenzhou's industrial output, compared to a national average of 10 percent. Most of the companies in Wenzhou are family-owned and were started without government help. The city has been so successful that the “Wenzhou model” is now held up as the model for which other cities are expected to emulate.
Wenzhou produces light industry goods such as textiles, shoes and sundry goods. It is the lighter capital of the world. There are more than 500 companies making lighters, accounting for 80 percent of China's metal lighter production. Ninety percent of them are exported, mainly to European countries. Wenzhou is also home to 4,000 shoemakers that account for one forth “of China's shoe production. It is also major producer of sex toys.
The average income of Wenzhou is US$3,000 (2007), almost double the national average. Buildings are going up at a rapid pace, with gated communities for the wealthy opening up in the suburbs. One worker at a shoe factory told Smithsonian magazine: “Wenzhouese work harder than anyone else in China." Many of the wealthiest people are Christians.
Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide Getting There: Wenzhou is accessible by air, bus and train. Travel China Guide (click transportation) Travel China Guide ; Wenzhou Subway Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net
There are about 6.6 million people living in the Wenzhou metropolitan area. By one estimate 2 million people have left to seek their fortune outside of Wenzhou. About half million of them can be found in 70 different foreign countries, including 100,000 in the United States, mostly in New York.
People from Wenzhou are famous throughout China for their business and money-making skills. Books about them include The Jews of the East: The Commercial Stories of Fifty Wenshou Businessmen; You Don't Understand the Wenzhou People; and The Feared Wenzhou People, the Collected Stories of How the Wenzhou People Make Money. Wenzhou people are often mocked by other Chinese for their flashy ways and strange dialect. They are admired and disliked for their entrepreneurship. Many of the wealthiest Wenzhouese are Christians.
With little arable land and mountains blocking them from the interior of the mainland, the people of Wenzhou have traditionally looked to the sea, trading and opportunities abroad to improve themselves. They promoted the idea that the government should support commercial enterprises during the Song Dynasty in the 12th century and developed a strong trading culture during the Ming period in the 17th century and managed to emerge as an economic powerhouse in recent years without the education levels of Beijing, the special treatment of Shenzhen and the foreign investment of Shanghai.
Wenzhou people have succeeded through hard work, starting out with small businesses and workshops and expanding them. Over time they have come to dominate certain low-tech industries. Zhong Pengrong, a prominent economist told the Los Angeles Times, “Wherever there are business opportunities there are Wenzhou people...Unlike many other people in China who become rich overnight almost all the Wenzhou people built up their wealth from nothing and amassed their fortune through years of hardship."
Two million Wenzhouese live abroad. The are big in the restaurant business in France, Russia, Italy and Brazil and involved in outsourcing Chinese manufacturing work to Vietnam and North Korea. Wenzhou people can be found everywhere: shipping 10,000 VCRs a month and mining iron and gold in Mongolia; mining molybdenum in North Korea; buying cow leather in Tanzania; and trading shrimp and turbot in Iceland. One Wenzhou man in Inner Mongolia who has four brothers and sisters in Italy told the Los Angeles Times, “My parents told us, “Go out and explore. The farther you reach, the stronger you get."
Wenzhou makes half the world's cheap shoes, nearly all of its plastic leather, bra part and zippers, and numerous other essential parts to everyday items. Sales of Audis, BMWs and even Maseratis Porsches and Bentleys are brisk in Wenzhou as are the sales of vanity licence plates for outrageous prices. To really impress your friends you need to buy an executive jet or US$50,000 Vertu delux mobile phone. Tens of thousands of bottles of Margaux and Chateaux Lafit have been give as gifts and mixed with green tea and sugar before being gulped down.
It's not surprising that housing prices in Wenzhou are among the highest in China. Buying property is a pastime with real estate investments sought not in new apartment building in Wenzhou but also residential blocks in Paris. Wenzhou has a new airport and an opera houses designed by the famous Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott.
Malls in Wenzhou are stacked with band name luxury goods. Furniture stores sell knocks off of items displayed in the Louvre. The new US$128 million Shangri-La hotel was built mainly to host extravagant weddings for pampered children who in some cases have been educated at some of Britain's most famous boarding schools.
Wenzhouese have made bids for fashion company Pierre Cardin and tried to buy Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch and bring it to Wenzhou. In one survey Wenzhou millionaires were asked what they would do if they were forced to chose between their business and their family — 60 percent chose their business, 20 percent chose their family and 20 percent couldn't decide. Wenzhou business people tend to be very superstitious, laying out their factories in accordance with feng shui and starting business on auspicious days.
Celadon-Porcelain Sites in Zhejiang Province
The Ancient Porcelain Kiln Sites in Zhejiang province were nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in.2013. Description. They consist of 1) Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake ( N 30°07 50", E 121°19'35''); 2) Longquan Kiln Sites at Dayao (N 27°56 16", E 119°0 08"); 3) Xikou (N 27°54 35", E 118°59 07"); 4) Jincun Village (N 27°48 50", E 119°0 03"); and 5) Yangqiaotou (N27°51 10", E 119°1 55") [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO, People’s Republic of China]
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China includes the serial representative sites of ancient Chinese celadon-producing kilns from the 1st to the 17th century. They are located in Zhejiang Province, a concentrated area of celadon production in China, with Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake and Longquan Kiln Sites at Dayao as two quintessence. The colossal scale and profuse historical remains of the sites substantiate the invention and lineage of the time-honored celadon making tradition of China.
“The Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake are situated in the northeast of Zhejiang Province in China’s southeast coastal region. The sites include the Shanglin lake area and Silongkou kiln ruins extending to an area around 231.69 hectares, surrounding the water system of the Shanglin Lake and Guyinding Lake, where 116 sites have been discovered so far. There are abundant remains of porcelain shards accumulated on the ground, buried workshops, kilns and other remains of production facilities, as well as historic settings related to porcelain production including porcelain clay zone, firewood resource zone, slopes where kilns were located, water sources and transport waterways.
“Representing the outstanding creative genius of ancient Chinese people, porcelain has a unique symbolic association with Chinese civilization and culture in the world. In Chinese porcelain history, celadon boasts the longest period of production, the widest scope of technical dissemination and the richest varieties of products. Yue Kiln of Shanglin Lake in Cixi and Longquan Kiln of Dayao in Longquan represent two prime times of the celadon development in China from the 8th to the 13th century (the late Tang Dynasty to the Song Dynasty). The sites have well-preserved porcelain making remains such as tremendous accumulation of porcelain shards, workshop remains, kiln remains and remnant tools, and historic settings related to celadon production. They have witnessed the formation and development of celadon industry in China from the 1st to the 17th century, present mainstream technologies and unique artistic achievements in this regard, represent the highest level of celadon production since the Tang Dynasty (the 8th century), and reveal an important development stage of the industry in ancient China. As a result, they have an incomparable place in Chinese porcelain history. Marking a significant juncture of human civilization and cultural evolution, these sites influenced not only the porcelain industry of China but also those of the rest of Asia and North Africa.
“Celadon is the most broadly spread, the most influential porcelain genre with the longest history in the world. Representing the paramount of celadon art evolving from the Tang Dynasty, Five Dynasties, Song, Yuan to Ming dynasties (from the 8th to the 16th century), the Yue Kiln of Shanglin Lake and Longquan Kiln of Dayao had become the most influential of the kind in Chinese history of celadon production. Since the 9th century, its ingenuity has affected significantly the porcelain production in Korean Peninsula, Egypt, Persian region and Japanese Archipelago, promoted the development of the porcelain industry worldwide, hence contributed to the material civilization and the culture of mankind.
Yandang Mountain (300 kilometers away from Hangzhou, 70 kilometers away from Wenzhou) is one of China's 10 most famous mountains. Stretching across an area of 450 square kilometers in Leqing, Wenzhou in southeast Zhejiang Province, the mountain includes over 500 tourist attractions scattered across its eight major scenic zones and including peaks, waterfalls, caves and steep cliffs. Among all the most famous spots are Lingfeng Peak, Lingyan Rock and Dalongqiu Waterfall — collectively known as the "three perfections of Yandang Mountain." In 2005 Yandang Mountain was named a UNESCO World Geopark; Admission: 160 yuan (US$25.11) per person.
Geologically Yandang Mountain (Yandangshan) is regarded as classic example of an ancient rhyolite volcano. Situated at the edge of a very old volcanic area of the Asian Continental Plates, it is contains many kinds of rhyolite rocks. The mountains and rocks found at Mt. Yandang record of the geologic period between 128 million years to 108 million years ago when the volcano was created and when it came back to life. Over the past 20,000 years, the Yandang Mountain volcano has experienced four periods and several dozens of eruptions. Numerous eruptions and water plus wind erosions over the course of millions of years, are responsible for the mountain's current landforms.
Yandang Mountain was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. Yandang Mountain is famous for its screen-like peaks, caves and waterfalls. It is a mountainous natural resort on the seaside and known as "emperor of mountains" and a "marvelous beauty of the world". The Yandang Mountain area is famous for unique local goods such as Xiangyu Fish, Yanming Tea, Kwan-yin Bamboo, Jinxing Grass and Shan Yueguan Birds. If you go hiking make sure to bring plenty of food and water,
Admission: Lingfeng Peak: 30 yuan; Lingyan Rock Scenic Zone: 30 yuan; Dalong Qiu Scenic Zone: 30 yuan; Sanzhe Waterfall Scenic Zone: 10 yuan; Xiansheng Men Scenic Zone: 10 yuan; Yangjiao Cave Scenic Zone: 10 yuan; Yanhu Lake Scenic Zone: 10 yuan; Jinzhu Jian 10 yuan; Fangdong: 20 yuan; Forest Park: 25 yuan; Location: 88 Yanshan Road, Yandang Mountain, Yueqing City, Tel: +86-577-62241762 Getting There: By Bus: There are air-conditioned tourist coaches that depart in Wenzhou from New South Coach Station (opposite of Wenzhou Railway Station). Coaches headed towards Yandangshan are scheduled to leave at 7:30am, 9:30am, 10:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm everyday. Website: en.wzyds.com
Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City
Liangzhu (north of the Qiantang River about 70 kilometers west Hangzhou) is the largest and earliest walled city in ancient China. Located in Zhejiang Province south of the Yangtze River, the enormous settlement was named after Liangzhu, the modern site where evidence of the culture was first discovered in the early twentieth century. Remains from this remarkable Neolithic site include palace foundations, royal tombs, craft workshops, and sophisticated jade that have been dated from 3300 to 2250 B.C. Liangzhu Ancient City is located in a wetland environment on the plain of river networks between Daxiong Mountain and Dazhe Mountain of the Tianmu Mountain Range.
The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019. According to UNESCO: “ Located in the Yangtze River Basin on the southeastern coast of the country, the archaeological ruins of Liangzhu (about 3,300-2,300 B.C.) reveal an early regional state with a unified belief system based on rice cultivation in Late Neolithic China. The property is composed of four areas — the Area of Yaoshan Site, the Area of High-dam at the Mouth of the Valley, the Area of Low-dam on the Plain and the Area of City Site. These ruins are an outstanding example of early urban civilization expressed in earthen monuments, urban planning, a water conservation system and a social hierarchy expressed in differentiated burials in cemeteries within the property. [Source: UNESCO]
“The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City was the centre of power and belief of an early regional state in the Circum-Taihu Lake Area. It is located on a plain criss-crossed by river networks in the eastern foothills of the Tianmu Mountains in the Yangtze River Basin on the southeast coast of China. The property is composed of four areas: Area of Yaoshan Site; Area of High-dam at the Mouth of the Valley; Area of Low-dam on the Plain — Causeway in Front of the Mountains; and Area of City Site.
“The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City reveals an early regional state with rice-cultivating agriculture as its economic base, and social differentiation and a unified belief system, which existed in the Late Neolithic period in China. With a series of sites, including the City Site built during ca. 3300-2300 B.C., the Peripheral Water Conservancy System with complex functions and socially-graded cemeteries (including an altar), and the excavated objects represented by series of jade artefacts symbolizing the belief system, as well as its early age, the property represents the remarkable contributions made by the Yangtze River Basin to the origins of Chinese civilization. In addition, the pattern and functional zoning of the capital, together with the characteristics of the settlements of the Liangzhu culture and of the Outer City with the terraces, support strongly the value of the property.
“The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City, as the centre of power and belief of Liangzhu culture, is an outstanding testimony of an early regional state with rice-cultivating agriculture as its economic base, and social differentiation and a unified belief system, which existed in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in the Late Neolithic period of China. It provides unparalleled evidence for concepts of cultural identity, social and political organization, and the development of society and culture in the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age in China and the region.
“The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu illustrates the transition from small-scale Neolithic societies to a large integrated political unit with hierarchy, rituals and crafts. It includes outstanding examples of early urbanization expressed in earthen monuments, city and landscape planning, social hierarchy expressed in burial differentiations in cemeteries within the property, socio-cultural strategies for organization of space, and materialization of power. It represents the great achievement of prehistoric rice-cultivating civilization of China over 5000 years ago, and as an outstanding example of early urban civilization.”
Ningpo (160 kilometers south of Shanghai) lies in the heart of industrial area of eastern Zhejiang Province. It is home to 8.2 million people and is quickly rising to the status of a first tier Chinese city. Ningpo experienced an extraordinary spurt of growth of 14 percent a year in the 2000s.
Ningbo lies in the east of Zhejiang Province at the mid-point of the Chinese coastline. As the birthplace of Hemudu culture with a history of more than 7,000 years, Ningbo has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous dynasties. Present-day Ningbo is one of the most developed cities in Zhejiang. It is a port city with connections to more than 600 ports in 216 countries.
Jonathan Franzen wrote in The New Yorker, “It seemed to me every inch of greater Ningpo was under construction or reconstruction simultaneously. My extremely new hotel had been built in the rear yard of a merely very new hotel, a few feet away. The roads were modern but heavily divoted, as if it were understood that they would all be torn up again soon anyway. The countryside seethed with improvement; in some villages it was hard to find a house that didn't have a pile of sand or a stack of bricks in front of it. Farm fields were sprouting factories while, outside the less new factories, the support columns of coming viaducts went up behind scaffolds. The growth rate that Ningpo had sustained...quickly became exhausting just to look at it."
Web Sites Map: China Maps China Maps ; Lonely Planet Lonely Planet Maps of Ningbo: chinamaps.org ; Getting There: is accessible by a new bridge from Shanghai. See Hangzhou Bay Bridge Below. Ningbo Subway Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net
Sights in the Ningpo Area
Ningbo Museum is a history museum designed by the famed Pritzker-winning architect Wang Shu. Rowan Moore wrote in The Guardian: The building is a massive, severe structure, part ship, part mountain, part castle, enriched with tiles and bricks salvaged from demolished houses. Wang says he met a woman there who told him "she visited four times in half a year. She found many things similar to her original house, which had been demolished. She came to find her memory. Modern Chinese cities don't have memories, but in their deep heart they need memories. It really moved me." [Source: Rowan Moore, The Guardian, December 15, 2012]
Tiantong Temple was originally built in A.D. 300 and is enormous in size. Located at the base of Mount Taibai, it contains over 720 rooms and covers an area of 60,000 square meters. As a holy place of Buddhism, Tiantong Temple is not only an important temple of Linji Sect in China but also is also linked to Soto sect in Japan, which has 8 million adherents and thousands of temples. The temple plays an important role in the cultural exchanges between China and Japan. Situated in Tiantong's National Forest Park, Tiantong Temple is surrounded by thick woods and tall bamboo trees. In the temple there are the Imperial Inscriptions and Steles by ancient Chinese emperors. Travel Information: in addition to the overland route, Tiantong Temple is also accessible by ship. Location: Dongwu Township, Yinzhou District, Tel:0574-88380811 Getting There: take bus No. 362; Admission: 10 yuan;
Baoguo Temple (15 kilometers north of Ningbo) is the oldest and most completely preserved wooden structure in South China. The main hall of the present temple dates back to 1013. Located on the side of Lingshan Mountain, the temple embraces Shan Men (Mountain Gate), Tian Wang Dian (Hall of Heavenly King), Da Dian (Grand Hall), and the Scripture Repository, occupying an area of 13,000 square meters. the Grand Hall is still studied by architects and aspects of it are still a mystery. The hall was built without a single nail or beam. In addition, it is said no birds have ventured inside to make nests, nor have insects, and no dust has accumulated. The Bell Tower, the Drum Tower and the Guest House are situated along the hall. Travel Information: Seventeen showrooms are open to tourists. Location: Anshan Village, Jiangbei District, Ningbo, Tel:0574-87586317/83070065 Getting There: take bus No. 332 Hours Open: 8:30-16:30; Admission: 20 yuan; Website: baoguosi.com (in Chinese)
Hemudu Culture Site
Hemudu Site (20 kilometers Ningbo) is the main site of the Hemudu civilization that thrived more than 7,000 years ago. The Hemudu site is one of the earliest Neolithic Age sites discovered in China. The Hemudu lived in long stilt houses and were one of the earliest people to cultivate rice. Situated in Yuyao Town,, the site covers 50,000 square meters and contains four layers that represent a different cultural age. The deepest layer has the longest history or more than 7,000 years. The site, discovered in 1973, features an exhibition area and the original excavation site. A number of tools made from bones, jade, wood and clay, jewelry, and the remains of buildings are displayed in the site’s museum.
The Hemudu culture (5500 to 3300 B.C.) was a Neolithic culture that flourished just south of the Hangzhou Bay in Jiangnan in modern Yuyao, Zhejiang, China, 150 kilometers south of Shanghai. Hemudu sites have also been discovered on the islands of Zhoushan.Hemudu residents are said to have differed physically from inhabitants of the Yellow River sites to the north. Scholars view the Hemudu Culture as a source of the proto-Austronesian cultures. The Hemudu culture has been be divided into an early and late phases, before and after 4000 B.C. respectively. Some scholars assert that the Hemudu culture co-existed with the Majiabang culture as two separate and distinct cultures, with cultural transmissions between the two. Other scholars group Hemudu in with Majiabang subtraditions. [Source: Wikipedia +]
The Hemudu Archaeological Site in Hemudu Town, Yuyao county — 22 kilometers northwest of Ningbo — has items dating back to more than 7,500 years ago. They were found in June 1973 by local villagers during construction work. The discovery is one of the most important archeological events in China in the 20th century. The findings there called into question the conventional view that the Yellow River region, to the north was more advanced than the rest of China and showed that Chinese civilization originated in both the Yellow and Yangtze river areas. The evidence included rice seeds and wooden oars from a flourishing Neolithic culture on the river delta, as well as those archaeologists have dug out at various sites around Cihu Lake, Fujia, Tianluo, Zishan, Xiangjia and Xiangshan mountains and the Mingshanhou village. They date from 5,000 to 3,000 B.C.. The Hemudu Site in Ningbo holds one of the earliest records of China's Neolithic Age in the southeastern area. [Source: chinadaily.com, January 19, 2015]
Over 7,000 items have been unearthed at Hemdud sites, including production tools, tools for daily life and construction components. Among the most significant finds are some of the earliest human-grown rice, the earliest wood-structured well and some of the earliest for examples of weaving and oar-powered boats. The site offers strong evidence that both the Yangtze River valley and Yellow River valley are the cradles of the Chinese civilization. The fact was written in the high school textbook of history in 1979. [Source: China.org]
The Hemudu Site covers forty thousand square meters and has a cultural layer that is a total of 3.7 meters in depth. Four separate cultural layers can be distinguished that, after calibrated carbon fourteen testing, date to between 7,000 and 3,500 years ago. In 1982, this site was declared a National Key Cultural Protected Unit. [Source: Chinamuseums.com]
Fossilized amoeboids and pollen suggests Hemudu culture emerged and developed in the middle of the Holocene Climatic Optimum. A study of a sea-level highstand in the Ningshao Plain from 7000 – 5000 years ago shows that there may have been stabilized lower sea levels at this time followed by, from 5000 to 3900 years ago, frequent flooding. The climate was said to be tropical to subtropical with high temperatures and much precipitation throughout the year. Two major floods caused the nearby Yaojiang River to change its course and inundated the soil with salt, forcing the people of Hemudu to abandon its settlements. +
Travel Advise: buses leave Ningbo south bus station every half an hour to Yuyao. Location: Hemudu Town, Yuyao, Tel:0574-62963732; Admission: Free Hours Open: 8:30-5:00pm from April to October; 8:30-16:30 from November to March in the next year Website: .hemudusite.com (in Chinese)
Hemudu Site Museum
The Hemudu Site Museum was opened in May of 1993 and is divided into two parts: the actual site of excavation and an exhibition of objects. It covers a total of 26,000 square meters and the building area covers a space of 3,163 square meters. The building area is composed of six separate buildings that are joined to one another by corridors. The general layout of the buildings conforms to the unique Hemudu style of architecture, which in Chinese is called ganlan-style, or trunk and railing. This includes a long ridgepole, short eaves, and a high foundation. The building rests on 456 pillars on which lie groups of cross beams, symbolizing the tenon and mortise technology already used some 7000 years ago. The foyer is in the shape of a legendary 'roc' spreading its wings, expressing the worship of birds that was practiced by the early Hemudu people. [Source: Chinamuseums.com ||||]
The museum exhibits around 3,000 objects that were retrieved in two main excavation periods at the site. Among the objects are remains of rice kernels planted by man, ceramic fragments that have traces of carbonized rice grains, rice-husk-patterned pottery fragments, bone items, wooden joint pieces, ivory bird-shaped artefacts, ivory carved plate-shaped containers with sun motifs, jade items, and so on. These are all worthy of being described as gems of Neolithic culture. ||||
The second hall of the museum covers 300 square meters, and reflects the hunting and gathering life as well as the rice-agriculture of the time. It exhibits actual items such as man-cultivated grain, agricultural implements made of bone, a husker made of wood, and stone grinders, ceramic axes, etc., as well as containers for holding food, appropriate for an exhibition of rice-producing culture. The third hall covers 400 square meters and includes two parts, one on the life of the settlement and one on its spiritual or intellectual culture. Exhibited here are pillars, beams, boards and other wooden architectural elements, wooden tools, stone ax, stone awl, bone awl, a reconstructed trunk and railing style building (portion), and a model of a well. Parts of a primitive loom are also displayed, including many things that no longer have contemporary names. ||||
Hangzhou Bay Bridge
Hangzhou Bay Bridge (connecting Shanghai with Ningbo) is the world's longest sea-crossing bridge. Opened in May 2008, just before the Olympics, it stretches 36 kilometers across Hangzhou Bay and was built at a cost US$1.7 billion, most of which was covered by the Ningpo government which has mapped out a new industrial zine immediately to the east of the bridge. The longest bridge in the world is the 38.4-kilometer-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway outside New Orleans.
The new bridge has has reduced the travel distance and time between Shanghai and Ningpo from 300 kilometers and four hours to 120 kilometers and 2 ½ hours. The bridge has a six-lane roadway that permit vehicles to travel at speed up to 100kph. To help drivers combat monotony, every five kilometers the color of the railings change.
Construction of the S-shaped Hangzhou Bay Bridge began in June 2003 and is seen as key to moving goods between two of China's most important ports — Ningpo and Shanghai — and developing the Yangtze Delta area. The entire project also includes the construction of a large container port.
Hengdian World Studios, the World's Largest Film Studio
Hengdian World Studios (380 kilometers from Shanghai in Hengdian, Dongyang County) is the largest film studio in the world, and was called as "Chinese Hollywood" by Hollywood magazine of the United States. Covering almost 3,000 hectares (7,000 acres) and known to some as Chinawood, the facility has of 13 shooting bases with building areas of 495,995 square meters. The studio also has several records which include: the largest indoor Buddha figure in China, the largest indoor studio and the largest tourism spot. Since the filming of the movie Opium War in 1996, Hengdian World Studios has hosted more than 300 shooting groups and filmed more than 10,000 episodes of movies and TV-series as of 2005. Among other things, Hengdian World Studios, boasts a full-scale mock-up of the Forbidden City. There are two high-technical shooting studios, including the largest one in China with the area of 1,944 square meters.
Ian Johnson wrote in the The New Yorker: “Today, the Palace of the Qin King, an austere complex with curved roofs, red pillars, and a grand entrance of ninety-nine steps, rises amid the green mountains of southern China. Two thousand years ago, it was nestled in the scrubby hills of the north, where its occupant became the country’s first emperor. That structure now lies in ruins, but a replica of the original can be found at Hengdian World Studios, the largest movie lot ever built. On a drizzly morning in March, the palace’s front gate was besieged by a throng of tourists, while a watchtower was filled with actors filming a historical drama. [Source: Ian Johnson, The New Yorker, April 22, 2013]
“Nearby, extras assembled outside the gates of an imitation Forbidden City, hoping to join a cinematic mob. The set has been featured in dozens of productions filmed at Hengdian. Although it is a bit smaller than the original compound, in Beijing — some of the minor buildings have been edited out — it looks better, gleaming as it did at the peak of imperial rule. In the capital, the Forbidden City is run by one of China’s most obtuse agencies, the Ministry of Culture, and the buildings there look worn and battered. All that was missing from the Hengdian model was Chairman Mao’s picture, on the Gate of Heavenly Peace — but that was only because the set had recently been used to shoot a movie that takes place before 1949.
“Hengdian takes its name from the town that it dominates, controlling its land and its economy. When the lot needs to be expanded, the company blows up mountains, flattens villages, tears down temples, and bulldozes cemeteries. It’s currently re-creating an eight-hundred-acre Qing-dynasty pleasure palace. Hengdian doesn’t just want to make films; it wants to use its sets to tell the Chinese people their history. In 2012, nearly twelve million tourists came to see the country’s architectural marvels, all in one place. The trademark of the town of Hengdian is a golden water buffalo. At major intersections, replicas stand in traffic circles, gazing at passing cars. Legend has it that the beast lives on Eight-Faced Mountain, an extinct volcano on the outskirts of town, and one day will descend and lead people to prosperity.
Travel Information: 1) The Wansheng Food Street in Hengdian World Studios provides various kinds of delicious food, such as authentic Beijing instant-boiled mutton, big plate of chicken which are popular among stars. 2) Children below 1.2 meter can visit the resort for free; Admission: 420 yuan (through ticket) 360 yuan (through ticket in winter) Getting There: 1. By Bus: Take a bus from Hangzhou Bus Station to Hengdian World Studios resort or take a bus from Dongyang West Bus Station to Hengdian World Studios resort; 2) By Car: drive your car via Shanghai-Hangzhou Expressway, Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway or Hangzhou-Jinhua-Quzhou Expressway; 3) There are many buses or tricycles in the resort. Bus is 1 yuan and tricycle is 3 yuan to 5 yuan. Tel: +86-579-86565361; Website: hengdianworld.com
Tourism at Hengdian World Studios
Hengdian World Studio welcomes around 12 million visitors a year, Among the supporting facilities are over 10 hotels, gym centers, nightclubs, Internet bars, tea houses and restaurants. Ian Johnson wrote in the The New Yorker: “Some of China’s most iconic buildings have been erected on Hengdian’s sprawling lot, giving the place the ersatz-historical feel of Colonial Williamsburg. The sets look authentic on camera, even if illusion is sometimes involved: when I visited, carpenters assembling a banquet hall were painting cheap pine so that it resembled fine Burmese rosewood. Across the lot, construction teams and artisans were re-creating Shanghai’s Bund, the series of European-style buildings along the Huangpu River which defined the city’s era of colonial control and decadent living. [Source: Ian Johnson, The New Yorker, April 22, 2013]
Hengdian has started to build museums on the lot. Like the films, the exhibits energetically ratify the government’s viewpoint. A museum glorifying China’s military, just down the street from the construction site, includes a two-story hall with a diorama of the 2009 military parade, in Beijing, that commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Hundreds of three-inch soldiers goose-step in front of photographs of the parade route. The exhibits culminate in a full-sized mock-up of a Long March 2F rocket carrying a Shenzhou 5 space station.
“The company also plans to create a museum devoted to China’s cinematic portrayal of its past. It will include artifacts, such as porcelain vases and cloisonné boxes from the ruins of the Gardens of Perfect Brightness. Once such projects are complete, Xu Wenrong, Hengdian founder, said, visitors will have a singularly comprehensive view of Chinese history. “Chinese historical museums are all scattered — you have a bit here and a bit there,” he told me. “At my museum, you’ll have the entire scope in one place. The film sets are fake, but, through a museum, I can offer real things.”
“Hengdian’s smallest attraction is Dazhi Zen Temple, a gleaming set that has been used to film such romances as “The Lovers and the Heartless Sword.” It’s also a functioning place of worship. Shi Wenqing, its abbot, told me that the original temple was built on Eight-Faced Mountain, in the sixth century. After the new one opened, in the nineteen-nineties, the original was closed to the public.
Hiking in Mountains Near Hengdian Studio
Ian Johnson wrote in the The New Yorker: “One day, I set off to explore the mountain. Ten miles northeast of Hengdian, it is surrounded by a wall that conceals a golf course and villas. I parked at the entrance, where a small sign said that locals could climb the mountain provided they were out by 5:30 A.M. It was past that, but I asked if I could enter. “That’s only for locals,” the guard said, refusing to open the metal gates. We argued for a while, until I decided to test whether Hengdian was as much of a company town as Hollywood. I called a press spokesman at the studio for help. He called an assistant, who called the head of the golf course, who called the doorman’s boss, who told the doorman to let me in. Still, he refused. Finally, a Hengdian Group employee came over and argued with the guard, and with me, saying that my mission was misguided: the temple was gone, wrecked, destroyed. I said that I liked hiking. After an hour, they let me in.
“An electric golf cart ferried me past a silver-haired man and two female caddies at Hole 16. We stopped at a sign, shaped like an arrow, that read, “Worshipping This Way Up.” I got out and followed a path of well-laid paving stones. I walked up through forests of bamboo and pine, passing two broken stelae along the way: one commemorating a local hero who had fought the Japanese in the sixteenth century, the other a woman who had pioneered education in the mid-twentieth century.
“The mountain is only seventeen hundred feet high, but it was steep and I hiked along the switchbacks for nearly forty-five minutes. Then it levelled off, and after a hundred yards there was a depression that looked like a sinkhole — the remnant of the volcano. Farther on, I found the golden water buffalo: two chunks of rock that vaguely suggested a buffalo’s head and a hump, with incense sticks planted in a crevice. Apparently, some locals made it up here once in a while. Next to it were three temples in the beautiful Jiangnan style of whitewashed walls and gray-tiled roofs. They were badly in need of repair, with loose tiles smashed on the ground.
“The biggest structure at the temple was devoted to a folk god named Yu the Great, a mythical king who, like Noah, survived a great flood. The padlock was so rusty that I could pull it open and swing the creaky doors. Inside was a colorful statue of Yu, with a censer in front of him that was overflowing with ashes. He was flanked by stelae documenting the scores of people who had contributed to the temple’s reconstruction, in 1988. Cloth banners hung from the ceilings, listing pilgrimage societies whose members had made the trek up to honor Yu. The last one took place in 1994, around the time that Hengdian World Studios built its Zen temple and closed off the mountain.
“As I headed back down the path, Hengdian reappeared through the smoggy haze. The movie lot had flooded the valley, its sets and sheds surging over the farms and villages. I could make out the glittering yellow roofs of the Forbidden City and the road that sliced through the mountains to the construction site for the Gardens of Perfect Brightness. Behind me was Hengdian’s past: crumbling, quiet, and unreal.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
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