Explore Shandong(1)—Spring City
With a vast territory and a long history, China offers the world so much to see and explore. Aside from world-famous attractions like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Beijing, there are so many stunning natural landscapes and historical and cultural sites to see in other parts of China!
Starting this week, we will introduce you to Shandong, a province in eastern China where you can walk on beautiful beaches, climb holy mountains, and visit the hometown of Confucius. And along the way, you can feast on seafood along with other tasty dishes from Shandong's distinctive regional cuisine.
In this episode, we will take you on a journey to explore some of Shandong's abundant rivers, lakes, and natural springs. First, let's go to the capital city Jinan, to check out the springs the city is famous for.
1.5 hours from Beijing by high-speed train, Jinan is a modern and bustling city known as "Spring City", because it sits atop more than 700 natural springs. This is why the city has been described since ancient times as having "Springs and willows found in every courtyard".
Each one of the springs is unique. For example, the Pearl Spring is known for the waves of small bubbles that float across the water, while the Black Tiger Spring sounds like a tiger roaring as water gushes through the rock.
Baotu Spring is the most outstanding spring in the city, with a recorded history stretching back thousands of years. Flowing from three streams deep under the ground, the spring water bubbles up into the lake, which is surrounded by some Chinese pavilions, where visitors can rest and enjoy a cup of tea made from fresh spring water.
With a constant temperature of 18 degree Celsius, even in the winter, visitors can enjoy the sight of the mist drifting off the water.
The city's springs feed into a moat that surrounds the city wall, which was built more than 600 years ago. They also flow into the majestic Daming Lake in the center of Jinan.
Fed from many springs, Daming Lake is unique in that the water level remains constant all year round, even in times of drought. The large lake is surrounded by a large and equally impressive park. Hundreds of willow trees grow along its periphery, and large lotus plants float on the surface of the lake.
After taking a long walk around the park, you can rest in one of the ancient pavilions in the park. Lixiating is a wooden pavilion with red pillars and gray tiles. Built on the largest isle within Daming Lake, it is the most famous pavilion in the park.
From ancient times, the pavilion attracted many men of letters. The Tang poet Du Fu once visited here and wrote poems about the scenery. And a figure no less than Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty inscribed the name for the pavilion, Li Xia Ting, on a board that you can still find hanging on the pavilion today.
The people of Jinan are so proud of the heritage of the natural springs in the city that they don't draw their drinking water from the springs. Instead, they take it from the Yellow River.
The Yellow River, often considered the Mother River of China and the cradle of Chinese civilization, cuts through Shandong before emptying into the Bohai Sea. Visitors to Shandong often marvel at the spectacular scene when the Yellow River joins the sea. Between July and October, you can see a distinct line formed along the surface of the water near the city of Dongying where the muddy waters of the Yellow River meet the bright blue waters of the Bohai Sea.
When you visit Shandong, another must-see is the Grand Canal, or the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the longest as well as the oldest canal in the world. Around 1,400-year-old, the monumental Grand Canal is a lifeline that connects north and south China. The total length is over 1,700 km, and its greatest height is reached in the mountains of Shandong’s Jining city, which is also called the “Capital of the Grand Canal”.
Besides its sluice gates, its dams and more, the Grand Canal represents the spirit of science, and the ability to overcome hardships and challenges, and is a lasting symbol of the wisdom and creativity of Chinese ancestors.
As an important component of the Grand Canal, the Shandong section has gained World Heritage status. It has a total length of 643 km and runs through the five cities of Zaozhuang, Jining, Tai’an, Liaocheng and Dezhou, encompassing 15 of its total 58 heritage sites. Different from other cultural heritages, after more than two millennia of consistent improvements, the canal still performs main functions of transportation, irrigation, and dissipating floodwater. It is a “living heritage”.
Thanks the lengthy coastline, Shandong is also the place to go if you want to see some of China's most beautiful beaches. Its seaside cities like Qingdao, Yantai, Weihai, and Rizhao, won't disappoint.