Yan'an is a small, sleepy town in the far northern border region of Shaanxi province, in the heart of this region's Yellow Soil Plateau. If the biggest notables in recent Chinese history had not intervened, this area would almost certainly have remained in obscurity. In 1936, however, a troop of hardened and weary soldiers, part of a once fairly powerful faction of a United Front government, arrived and then settled in the town.
These were the Red Army, a group of socialist thinkers and working men that had originally grouped together (in 1921) in defiance of a fairly repressive internal government and in disgust at the growing influence that their neighbor, Japan, was extending in the northern regions.
After an initial cycle of embracement and then betrayal by the Nationalist Government (Guomindang), the Communists were finally attacked on full scale.
They fled for their lives through some of China's least hospitable countryside on a devastating Long March. From their original commune in the Jianxi Soviet, deep south east, for over a year these hardy soldiers meandered, beset on all sides, until finally coming to a respite in Yan'an, in China's far north. The town was poor and with relatively unprofitable soil, making it ripe for the communists to disseminate their doctrines and provide welcomed help and redistribution in the fields.
By 1950, after the successful removal of China's 'internal and external cancers' (the Guomindang and the Japanese Manchukuo states), the town became one of China's Meccas, along with the hometown of Chairman Mao in Shaoshan. The tourism industry in Yan'an bloomed, as any self-respecting communist made the treck to pay their homage to the greats of the revolution.
Today the town has returned to its relatively quiet roots, and tourists here are mainly PLA soldiers on induction trips, truly hardcore Communists, or interested foreign tourists. Most of the sights in town are related to the period of the 1930s and 1940s when the Chinese Communist Party were in charge here and thankfully much of the tourism that passed through town in the second half of this century, perhaps in awe of the solemnity of this holy region, have little disturbed the original style of the town. It is the older sections of town, the scenery around and the strangely enticing, cold socialist architecture that is interesting as a one day tour.
The Pagoda Hill is also known as "Jialingshan Hill". The ancient pagoda above the hill was built in the Tang dynasty, which was more than 1,300 years ago. The pagoda itself is of octagonal structure with 9 stories, and it is 44 m high. There is a large bell nearby the pagoda, which was cast in the Ming dynasty.
Under the hill, there are lots of stone inscriptions left by cliff. The inscription with 3 large words in Lishu (official script), namely "Jialingshan", is the most famous one, which is an inscription by the director of the Yan'an prefecture, namely Fan Zhongyan (989-1052). Being buffeted by wind and rain for a long time, the writing was blurred, and it was re-carved at the beginning of the Ming dynasty.
They also have 8 large words of carved stone, namely "There are ten thousand armors and weaponries in mind", each word is 2 Chi (namely one third of a meter) long and 2 Chi wide. This is a high value set by the later generations on the military deployment made by Fan Zhongyan.
The Yellow River is the mother river of the Chinese nation. In its basin, there is a tourist attraction that visitors should not miss. That is Hukou Waterfalls, a glistening pearl in the middle reaches of the Yellow River.
It is located in Yichuan County in Yan'an. It is the only magnificent yellow waterfall in the world and the second biggest waterfall in China after Huangguoshu Waterfall.
When the mighty Yellow River flows through mountains and gorges to Hukou, the billowy water streams narrow suddenly, falling 30 meter into a deep riverbed like a herd of galloping horses, transforming the quiet river into a turbulent one. The thundering sound can be heard from quite a distance. The tremendous mass of water strikes the rocks, creating piles of foam and huge water poles. It is an amazing view with mist all around. The riverbed here is like an enormous teapot absorbing all the rushing water, so the waterfall is named Hukou Waterfalls (Kettle Spout Falls). No matter its rumbling sound, its grand vigor or its marvelous scenery can make you exclaim that the nature is really incredible.
The power of the yellow water of Hukou Waterfalls is tremendous when falling down to the pond, so it is hard for you to get close to the main waterfall. Looking from a distance, you still can enjoy the vast and gorgeous yellow ocean of mist-covered water. The big waves and foam, like angry beasts, are running and roaring. The beauty and vigor of the waterfalls are indeed beyond words. You cannot know unless you visit it in person.
There are many wonders at Hukou Waterfalls, such as smoke from the river, boats on land, rainbows in the sunshine, and so on. In Hukou the water falls to the deep pond from a relatively high place, stirring the mist which rises high into the air like surging heavy smoke coming out of the river. You can see various shapes of rainbows formed by the rising mist, refracted by the sunshine from different angles. Sometimes rainbows are arched, cutting into the river from the sky like a dragon playing with water; sometimes they are colored ribbons lying across the river; sometimes they become colorful masses which change second by second. The water in Hukou is very much torrential, so all the boats from the upper reaches must be pulled out of the river onto to the bank when they arrive. These boats will have to detour around this section, carried by a group of boatmen or shipped by truck before they can be put in the river again.
The view of Hukou Waterfalls changes according to the seasons. In spring the frozen ground thaws and the stalactites of snow fall into the pond like the mountains collapsing and the earth cracking up. In summer and autumn there is much rainfall. With the rains, the river rushes and the yellow waves seem to reach the sky. In winter Hukou Waterfalls gives the visitors another new look. On the surface of the silvery ice waterfalls, cool water flows down. Little silver icicles hang on the cliffs around the waterfalls. It presents you a distinctive natural landscape of the northern region of China.
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