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Tour to Shandong Province – The Holy Land Of Culture, The Holiday Paradise

Time: 2019-8-19

Shandong Province has a very appealing slogan: The Holy Land Of Culture, The Holiday Paradise. Why is that? Let me tell you through my family trip in Aug 2019.

First, let’s go to the sea! Where would you go for the holiday without the hustle and bustle at the seaside in China during Jul and Aug? Seems everywhere is crowded due to the summer vacation, right? Well, follow us, go to Yangma Island of Yantai City and you will find peace there. Very few people have heard of it and even many local people haven’t been there. It is such a tranquil and quiet island with few tourists, primitive villages, zero pollution, clear water, pure air, blue sky, and beautiful natural scenery.

Yangmao Island, meaning Horse Breeding Island, is located in the Huanghai Sea(Yellow Sea), about 30km drive from Yantai railway station. The name was from an old story. In the Autumn of 219 BC, Emperor Qinshihuang ( the first emperor in Chinese history, the owner of Terra Cotta Warriors at Xi’an) had an expedition to the east. When they arrived here, both the men and horses were weary. Emperor Qin issued an imperial edict: abandon all the frail horses on the island. Two years later, Emperor Qin returned to the island and found: the former thin and weak horses became plump and sturdy, even better-fed than the horses in his palace. He realized here’s a treasure place to breed horses and bestowed“royal haras”on the island. From then on, the island got the name Yangma Island.

There are airport and train stations in Yantai, you may choose the appropriate transportation to get there.We took night train from Zhengzhou to Yantai with 18 hours on the train. Yes we still want to try the overnight train once in a while besides the high speed train. After arriving at Yantai train station, we took public bus No 61 from Yantaitrain station to Muping Long-distance bus station, connecting public bus No 617 from Muping long-distance bus station to Yangma Island.Bus No 617 is the only bus line between the island and the outside. The bus fare is 1 Chinese Yuan for any short or long distance. It’s a must to pass the cross-sea bridge to enter into and exit from the island. On the island, there are electric-powered shuttle buses for tourist to have sightseeings around the island. The shuttle bus fare is 18 Chinese Yuan with validity of one full day.

The island consists of several villages named after the different family names of indigenous people, like Sun Village, Zhang Village, Huang Village, Yang Village, etc. The island is divided into two parts based on the different types of the beaches: front sea (Qian Hai) and back sea (Hou Hai).

We stayed at the homestay of Sun Village, which is very close to front sea, 4-minute walk. The front sea is suitable for swimming because of its flat beach, clean water, smooth breeze, while back sea is suitable for sightseeing, diving, fishing, yachting and photo because of its deep water, steep cliff and beautiful scenery.The similarity of two parts is: the water mirrors the color of the sky.

There are hotels, hostels and home stays to attract more tourists. Even local family houses may offer wifi, AC, shower and separate toilet. The buildings on the island have different architectural styles: quadrangle dwelling, compound apartment, datcha, villa and low house of Qing Dynasty ( 1636-1912). All the buildings show its own history.

Some newly established modern or villa buildings were stopped by the government to protect local environment. The officials realized theenvironment should not be sacrificed for economic growth. They catch every opportunity to do environment protection work to curb air pollution.

The food on the island is mainly seafood, you may order in the restaurants or at the family house you stay.The price is quite good with a variety of seafood, such as oyster, clamp,scallops, crab, shrimp, squid and Spanish mackerel. The fishermen get up at 3:00am to start to work and get to bed at 9:00pm. All the seafood offered in the market is fresh and live. But Vegetables are few and expensive on the island. The picture below is the fishing boats of the local fishers.

You will find some strange holes on some old buildings, like the below pictures. Usually hitching post is a must to tie up a horse. Here the people fasten the horses with rein through the holes.

When you are in Yantai, you can’t miss Yantaishan Park since it is the symbolic spot of Yantai. In 1398 a beacon tower was built on the peak of the hill here, hence the name Yantai. The literal meaning of Yantai is: a tower that produces smoke signals (as an alarm when people find enemy troops approaching)

It is located in the northern part of the city, with 3 sides facing the sea. Wandering in the park, you may enjoy:

1) The colorful architectures with different style of 16 countries who built the consulates in Yantai including UK, France, USA, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Spanish, Korea, Japan, Finland, Denmark and Austro-Hungary from 1860 - 1904 ;

2) Part of the base of the original beacon tower.

3) The Light House built in 1986 which is the emblem of city. Yantai was one of the treaty ports open to the imperialist powers in the 1861 and has one of the 25 coastal hub ports of China.

Then we continued to Weihai.

It takes about 2 hours from Yangmadao Island to Shendiaoshan Wildlife Park(神雕山野生动物园) by private driving. The park is about 42 km west of Weihai city center, located at Xixiakou Village, Rongcheng Town, Weihai City. There are over 300 species with more than 4000 animals, including tigers, lions, wolfs, monkeys, panda, bears, elephants, Kangaroos, alpacas, antelopes, dolphins, walrus, hippocampus, lizards, snakes, zebras, peacocks and parrot. The entrance ticket is CNY150 per person. It takes one full day to see all the animals.

After the wildlife part visit, we took high speed train from Weihai to Tai’an for Taishan(Mr. Tai) – one of the Five Sacred mountains in China. It got listed as Cultural and Natural World Heritage site in 1987 and honored World Geopark in 2006.

Taishan Mountain is recognized as a holy and sacred mountain in Chinese culture. Forthousands of years, more than a dozen emperors paid their homage to the mountain.

The typical character of natural scenery of Mount Tai is imposing, steep, surprising, serene, secluded, profound, and spacious. The picturesque Mount Tai has various sceneries like cragged cliff, deep canyon and gorge, grotesque peak and strange rocks, luxuriant vegetation and the flowing springs and twittering birds…

Because of the unique integration of human civilization and natural landscape, Taishan Mountainis respected by billions of Chinese people and becomes famous all over the world.

We visited three cities of Shandong Province within 7 days: Yantai, Weihai and Tai’an. A very good experience but honestly it is just a glimpse of Shandong. There are so many more that Shandong can offer: Qingdao, Rizhao, Qufu, Jinan etc. Will return to Shandong for sure in future.

By Maria Guo - Charmission Travel


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