Chinese to English translations can sound over-flowery and often downright weird. Halls of Mental Cultivation, Palaces of Heavenly Purity, even a Humble Administrator Garden, but the name of Zhengzhou’s chief attraction is almost amusingly succinct.
Yellow River Scenic Area is, as you might expect, close to the Yellow River and from its high up vantage points offers views over the spectacular Yellow River winding through the flat land below. Now in early Autumn with a long summer behind us, the river is low with the silt and sand that gave it its name visable right across its impressive girth.
The Yellow River Scenic Area, also home to the fourth largest sculpture in the world, is situated about 30 kilometres from Zhengzhou city centre. There are various ways to get there including shuttle and regular bus, but if there is a group to share costs and you can persuade the taxi driver to put his meter on, a taxi is probably the handiest option.
Unfortunately this is easier said than done in Zhengzhou. After a few mishaps and some experimentation, I have since figured out the best way to avoid being ripped off. The trick is to hail a taxi driver rather than go to the taxi rank; that way you get the drivers who are willing to work and not the ones who are waiting for a naive tourist. Also, the driver doesn’t have time to negotiate a price in traffic. If he knows where you are headed, he will usually acquiesce and switch on the meter. It is also helpful to learn your destination in Chinese as he will hopefully assume you are familiar with the area and be less likely to take the long route or head into traffic. And always, always insist on the meter.
Yellow River Scenic Area is a tourist area and has been carefully designed with that in mind. There’s shuttle buses to ship one to and from the various sites, a chair lift and even a slide. The latter two are not for the faint of heart. Not because they look as if they should be particularly frightening per se, but because if you have been here for a little while you will understand that ‘maintenance’ is not a bye-word of the government controlled command economy that is China.
I have seen buildings less than ten years old with grills and grating rusting for want of a lick of paint. My own hotel, which has just recently been ‘refurbished’, has power-surges and severe radiator leaks. Some newly installed electrical sockets don’t work and I suspect they never will, and if someone rings my doorbell I am as like as not to be plunged into darkness.
Nevertheless, children scarcely bigger than toddlers were riding the chairlifts without adult supervision. Steve, a sophisticated English academic with an impressive vocabulary and an interesting turn of phrase, felt the need to ‘avail himself of the facilities’ after our ordeal. We found another way back down.
There are five main attractions in the Yellow River Scenic Area.
Five Dragons Peak
The central attraction in the scenic area, there are pavilions and attics on the Five Dragons Peak hillside. The five metre high sculpture of mother and child is symbolic of the Yellow River being the cradle and mother of Chinese civilisation. At the foot of the peak, there are eight iron waterpipes directing the water from the Yellow River to Zhengzhou. They are supposed to look like eight dragons sucking water, but I’ll be danged if I can see it.
The best point for overlooking the Yellow River, Yueshan Temple is on the top of the Yue Mountain with attractions such as the Purple Golden Pavilion and the Peony Garden, which is 32 meters (104 feet) high. The temple has a large bell and when the river is in full flow and the bell is tolling, together they are supposed to make a complimentary sound. I cannot personally vouch for this.
The Stone Figures of Yandi and Huangdi
As the legendary figures in Chinese history, Yandi and Huangdi are generally regarded as the ancient forefathers of the Chinese. There are two supposedly stone figures facing the Yellow River in the scenic area. The figures at 100 meters high (328 feet) with the heads 18 meters high (59 feet) and the bodies 82 meters high (269 feet) are the fourth tallest in the world. The nine bronze tripod-cauldrons, on display in front of the altar, are used for paying homage to Yandi and Huangdi. Upon closer inspection it is clear they are made from concrete, like much of China.
Camel Mountain Scenic Spot
Beside of Five-Dragon Peak stands the stately statue of Yu the Great who is the King of Xia Dynasty (2070 B.C. -1600 B.C.) in the Camel Mountain Scenic Spot. The statue is 10 meters (33 feet) high and 150 tons in weight with a leaf hat on the head and a mysterious farm tool in the right hand. The statue is for commemorating and honouring Yu’s victories over floodwaters, so perhaps he would have been better served with a bucket. But ours is not to reason why.
Remains of Ancient Citys Liu Bang and Xiang Yu
There is a gulf between these two ancient cities, 200 meters deep and 100 meters wide. During the Qin (221 B.C.-206 B.C.) and the Han Dynasty (206 B.C-220 A.D.), Liubang and Xiangyu declared war on each other for the throne with Xiang Yu’s troops garrisoning in the east and Liu Bang’s troops in the west. Liu Bang eventually defeated Xiang Yu and became the first Emperor of the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C-25AD). Here you will find recent sculptures of soldiers on horseback.
Yellow River Scenic Park is located 30 kilometers (19 miles) to the northwest of Zhengzhou City. Direct shuttle buses are available from Zhengzhou Central Bus Station. You can also take a public bus No. 322 from the Medical College of Zhengzhou to get there directly. It is open to the public from 08:10 to 18:00. A couple of hours should be sufficient to see it. Entry is 100 RMB, which includes a ticket for the chair lift.