Four wonders of Huangshan
 

The strange pines, absurd stones, sea of clouds and hot springs are the four wonders of Mt. Huangshan.

Strange pines

Huangshan pines are seen in every corner of Mt. Huangshan. You will be amazed by their vitality and strength. The seeds fall into the crevices where they take root and grow with great vigor. The uneven terrain prevents the pines from growing upright. Instead they become crooked and even downward. Another feature of Huangshan pines is that many trees grow branches on one side only. The pines grow very slowly due to the poor soil and climatic conditions. A tree less than 3 meters (9.84feet) high may have grown for over one hundred years or even several hundred years. The root of a pine is several times or several dozens times longer than the trunk, therefore Huangshan pines stand firmly with dignity, withstanding wind and rain. Every pine is unique though: Guest-Greeting Pine (in front of the stone lion of the Jade Screen Pavilion in the Jade Screen Scenic Area), Guest-Goodbye Pine (to the right of the Jade Screen Pavilion), Cushion Pine at Lotus Valley, Phoenix Pine at the Sky Sea, Chessboard Pine at Pingtian Stone Bridge, Kylin Pine between Bei Hai Hotel and the Refreshing Terrace, Black Tiger Pine and Sea Exploring Pine are among the most famous ones.

Absurd Stones

Spectacular rocky peaks will inspire your imagination. Some look like human beings, birds or animals or many other objects. Something that makes the stones even more fascinating is that they assume varied shapes when seen from different angles. Every stone has its own fantastic legend.

The rocks known as the "Celestial Basking Shoe" and the "Celestial Basking Boot" share a most romantic story. Once upon a time, in the Celestial Heaven Taoist Temple on Zuoshu Peak lived an old Taoist priest Dao Xuan and his disciple Tai Qing while in the Purple Cloud Temple on Pine Forest Peak lived a Taoist nun Lian Yu and her disciple Miao Zhen. The West Sea Valley separated the two temples as well as a strict commandment, therefore they had no dealings with each other. However, one winter, there was no kindling in Celestial Heaven Taoist Temple. Seeking help, Dao Xuan asked Tai Qing if he could borrow some from the nun at the Purple Cloud Temple. It so happened that the two young disciples fell in love at first sight. From then on, they spent time together when they fetched water or collected firewood. Unfortunately, they were discovered by both masters and the two disciples were punished severely. They were forbidden to go beyond the boundaries set by their masters and threaten with a beating should they disobey. One day when both the masters went down the mountain, they stealthily dated again and agreed upon a good idea: Tai Qing would place a boot in front of the mountain gate if his master was not at home; likewise Miao Zhen would place a shoe. One day, when they were together, their masters unexpectedly returned. Knowing they would be punished, the lovers pondered over their plight. Eventually, they decided that since they could not live together, they would rather choose to die together. Thus, they jumped into a cloud sea. They even did not have time to take back the boot and the shoe. As the days passed, the boot and the shoe turned into two rocks - "Celestial basking shoe" and "Celestial basking boot".

Sea of Clouds

Mt. Huangshan is home to clouds and mists. The Sea of Clouds has a fairy tale beauty. Winter is the best season for this spectacle. According to their locations, the seas of clouds are divided into East Sea, South Sea, West Sea, North Sea and Sky Sea. If you climb up the Lotus Peak, the Heaven Capital Peak and the Bright Peak, you will find yourself above the level of the clouds and they appear as a sea beneath you. It is true that a sea of clouds can be seen in many high mountains but that of Mt. Huangshan is unique with its oddly shaped rocks and ancient pines. Peaks, large and small, hide and reappear in the boundless waves of clouds. The Heavenly Capital Peak and the Bright Peak appear as isolated islands within this white sea.

All the colors seem more vivid in the sunshine. The clouds are forever changing, from being like a mirror when all is calm to rolling waves when the wind is strong. At sunrise or sunset, the glistening clouds assume every hue from red to purple. You cannot help marveling at this gift from the Creator! You will be struck by the beauty when all the red leaves are floating on the white clouds in autumn, when the clouds gush between the peaks like a raging river while the red leaves flutter delicately in the breeze.

Go to the Jade Screen Pavilion to view the South Sea, the Refreshing Terrace for the North Sea, the Paiyun Tower for the West Sea, the White Goose Ridge for the East Sea and the Legendary Turtle Peak for the Sky Sea.

Hot springs

To be able to refresh yourself in the hot springs on Mt. Huangshan must be one of the best ways of enjoyment and relaxation. Running out of the Purple Peak of 850 meters (2, 789 feet), the hot spring in Mt. Huangshan is the first stop following the entrance. Legend has it that Huang Di, the ancestor of the Chinese nation, bathed here 49 days before he ascended to heaven and became immortal.

Tips:

1. Hot spring is not suitable for everyone. If you suffer from high blood pressure or heart diseases, it would be wise to consult your doctor first.
2. Do not bathe in the hot spring if you do not feel very well or when you are hungry.
3. Leave the hot spring whenever you feel uncomfortable.

In addition to the spectacles we have mentioned there are three large waterfalls that are well worth a visit. These are Renzi (like the Chinese character for human being) Waterfall, the Baizhang (100 zhang, over 1,093feet) Spring and the Nine-dragon Waterfall.

Four hundred kilometers (248.5miles) from the East China Sea, Mt. Huanshan is absolutely the best place to watch the sunrise. It would be wise to choose the place according to where you live or are staying so as to attain the best vantage point without being exhausted. For example, the Dawn Pavilion (Shuguang Ting), the Refreshing Terrace and the Lion Peak are the optimum places if you live near the North Sea; the Red Cloud Peak for tourists near Xihai Hotel and Paiyunlou Hotel; the Bright Peak for Qixiang Hostel and Tianhai Hotel and Jade Screen Peak for those near Jade Screen Pavilion. You have to wake up earlier but the magnificent sight is certainly rewarding.

In contrast, Red Cloud Peak and Paiyun Tower are the best places for watching the glow of the setting sun.

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