Guide to the Yellow River Route (Part II)
With a constant flow of beautiful scenery, satisfying all of your expectations for early summer in Shandong…
After visiting Dongying and Liaocheng, travel onwards and you will reach Tai’an. You will encounter the beautiful scenery of the lower reaches of the Yellow River. Come and take a look!
Stop #3: Tai’an
Dongping Lake/Kunlun Mountain || Stunning landscape of the lower Yellow River
Dongping Lake, known as “Liaoerwa”, “Liangshanbo”, and “Anshan Lake” in ancient times, is the only remaining body of water left from the “800 Li (~250 sq miles) of water” mentioned in the Water Margin. It is also the second largest freshwater lake in Shandong Province.
The Dongping Lake Wetland is a large-scale wetland rarely seen in northern China. The inner harbor of the wetland is crisscrossed, and where fishes leap, birds sing, and gulls and herons fly. The lake and mountains are so beautiful that it even bears the nickname, the “Little Dongting Lake”.
The Dongping Lake is connected to the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal in the south, Dawen River in the east, and the Yellow River in the north. It is a jewel inlaid in the fertile fields of southwest Shandong. Surrounded by mountains, the water gleams, the reed flowers flutter, and the winding embankment around the lake sparkles.
On the west bank of Dongping Lake, there is Kunlun Mountain, which shouts the Water Margin culture, contemporary Chinese “Red Culture”, and quaint fishing village characteristics.
As you climb Kunlun Mountain, you can see the misty Dongping Lake from above. The stone carvings of Qixingfang can be found with the Water Margin classic tale of how seven Liangshan heroes outwitted the corrupted official to rob their caravan. The Qixingtan waterfall, to borrow Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.) travel writer Xu Xiake’s words: “[The waterfall] is like a long roll of cloth unfolding from the mountain top; the water is as smooth, and even, draping over the falls like a curtain”. The seven heroes’ story is recorded in the novel together with such a beautiful landscape.
Climbing up the steps, you can also find the sculpture of the “Water Margin 108”, which vividly displays the heroic image of those Liangshan heroes extending justice in lieu of the emperor, in the stone sculpture corridor.
From here, you can visit Zhujiazhuang village, where the Water Margin remake was filmed. The ancient architecture, with cyan tiles and flying eaves, seems to travel through space and time to touch upon the heroic stories with pride.
Hidden in the mountains is the 2,000-year-old Yueyan Temple. The temple is divided into two sections. The main structure of the front courtyard is the Daxiong Grand Hall and the backyard includes the “Horse Run” spring, ancient stone monuments, and one of the eight ancient wonders of Dongping: the “Fei Yan Pu Xue” sculpture.
Not far from the temple, there is an outdoor recreation area, with a zipline, glass-bridge, balance bridge, high-altitude gap bridge, and more, which are great for those who want the thrill of a physical challenge.
- Address: Dongping County, Tai’an City
- Phone: 0538-2873333
- Best Time to Visit: May to October is the best time to visit Dongping Lake. In the summer, you can see the lotus blooming, and in the fall, you can enjoy the golden autumn lake.
Dongping Lake→Kunlun Mountain (Ancient Stone Sculpture Exhibition, Mountain Relief→Qixing Waterfall→Zhujiazhuang Village→Yueyan Temple→Development Center)
Stop #4: Jining
Holy Land of the East || Feel the Influence of Confucianism
Morning: 【Temple of Mencius and Meng Family Mansion】
Entering the Temple of Mencius from the Lingxing Gate, you will see towering archaic trees everywhere in the courtyard. Most of the trees are Cypresses with unique shapes. Some look like dragons going out to sea, some like snakes coming out of holes, and some seem to have magical turtles clinging on the tree trunks. Look carefully and you will find that each tree is its own unique creature.
The ancient buildings of the Temple of Mencius are partially concealed by the ancient trees. These towering trees are green all year round, which symbolizes the immortal spirit of Mencian and Confucian culture.
In the third courtyard of the Temple of Mencius, there are many inscription tablets. The ancient locust tree beside the Fenjin Pond records the stream of annual sacrifices. The life story of Mencius, the saint second only to Confucius, is also displayed in his bedroom. After reading it, you will have endless thoughts about the story of Mencius.
Passing through the western line tribute gate, you will arrive at the Meng Family Mansion. This is the residence where descendants of Mencius lived. The courtyard is lush with vegetation and laid out exquisitely. It is truly a masterpiece of garden architecture.
Accompanied by the melodious ancient music, it is a ritual for the elders to crown their juniors three times. The younger generation are dressed up and pay respects to their parents along with sincere ancient music. It is an activity full of ritual etiquette!
- Address: 1498 Yasheng Road, Zoucheng City, Jining
Afternoon: 【Nishan Holy Land】
Confucius once said: “If you do not learn etiquette, you will have nothing to stand upon”. Traditional Chinese etiquette is the core philosophy of how the Chinese nation stands in the world. In Nishan, you can experience the ritualistic “Civilized Lifestyle”.
Worshiping Confucius, reciting The Analects with book in hand, hand-making sachets, performing the pitch-pot rituals, making a wish and praying for blessings… These are all interesting cultural “civilization and etiquette” experiences, allowing you to feel the joyous charm of this ancient country.
Walk into the lecture hall and watch the performance of “The World Returns to Benevolence”. A light show combined with traditional instrumental and ancient music, allowing the audience to experience a shuffling of time and space. Listen to the songs accompanied by ancient performances of the dancing lights and shadows, you will appreciate the magnificent beauty of Nishan and feel that the world has truly returned to benevolence.
Dressed in Hanfu (traditional Chinese costume) and wandering through the quaint and poetic Nishan Holy Land into the corridor of 72 sages, you will see the five exhibition halls of “Benevolence, Helpfulness, Etiquette, Wisdom, and Trust”; all five core components of Confucian philosophy.
- Address: 50 meters north of Provincial Highway 611, Nishan Town, Qufu City, Jining
For our last stop, head towards the Endless Colors Resort not far from Nishan. Even though the blooming period has passed at this time of year, it is still the perfect time to board a boat and enjoy the ride on the lake.
Take a cruise from the pier and you can see the scenery of Qingjie Lake. Next to the lake, there are bungalows on the water for overnight stays. What a quiet and picturesque scene.
Before you leave, you can also visit the fruit picking area, where you can wander about the landscape and pick apricots and peaches like crazy! This journey sure ends with a rewarding return!
- Address: One kilometer south of Sizhang Town, Sishui County, Jining City
Temple of Mencius and Meng Family Mansion → Nishan Holy Land → Endless Colors Resort
After a long period of geological evolution, the galloping Yellow River flows from Shandong into the sea, scouring out the fertile Yellow River Delta, Dongping Lake, Weishan Lake where the water shines. From the Nishan Holy Land to the Temple of Mencius and Meng Family Mansion, the options for exploration are endless.
The beauty created by the “Mother River” is not limited to what we have highlighted for you today. If you are interested, you might as well take a trip along the Yellow River for a special trip and experience the Yellow River’s charm for yourself!
山东省文化和旅游厅 Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism
美国友康科技有限公司 U-Combination Technology (USA) Inc.
Authorized agency for Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism in the U.S.
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Wayne, PA 19087