Thursday, June 18, 2015

Henan Museum and Huang River Scenic Area (Henan and Xi'an Tour Day 3)

Day 3, we visited Henan Museum (河南博物院) and Huang River Scenic Area (黄河游览区) in Zhengzhou City (郑州). Zhengzhou is a fast developing city with modern high rises sprouting at a tremendous fast pace. From our hotel, we took around 30 minutes to reach Henan Museum and spent 1 hour 30 minutes there.

Henan Museum in Zhengzhou is not big. But the museum houses more than 130 thousand artifacts with a few of them dated 8000 years ago. This makes Henan Museum one of the 8 major museums in China.  The entrance fee was CNY20, with guide available with CNY100 - 200. Hiring a good guide worth all our money spent. For us, the guide had done an excellent job to walk us through 8000 years of history in 45 minutes. Alternatively, we can buy a complete guide of the museum (河南博物院-带你走进博物馆) from the museum bookstore with CNY25 and spend a few hours reading it before the visit. To know more about this museum, you can visit its official site. For us, Henan Museum is a must visit site in Zhengzhou. By the way, most of the information inside the museum are available in both Chinese and English.

Zhengzhou is a fast developing city. We had our dinner at Zhengdong CBD (郑东新区) a night before (upper row). The new high rises are much more taller than the old ones (lower right). Some of the roads at older township are nicely shaded by trees.

The museum building resembles the oldest observatory platform in China discovered at Dengfeng, Henan. 

The hall with the sculpture representing "human determination can conquer nature" (人定胜天)(upper left). The man pushing two elephants away is a symbol of Henan "豫" as well. Oracle (甲骨文)- the oldest  mature written character in China (upper right), jade garment knitted with golden thread (金缕玉衣)- a symbol of desire to be immortal (lower right), and the 8700 years old bone flute made by crane's ulna were some of the artifacts exhibited in the museum. 

How to determine Tang Dynasty's artifact? Well, it was the only dynasty in China where chubby was considered beautiful.

Lunch at Zhengzhou Dayali Restaurant (大鸭梨). The food were nice and the most special one- roasted duck with vegetables wrap was really delicious.

After lunch, we drove 40 minutes to Zhengzhou Huang He Scenic Area (黄河游览区). Huang He (黄河) or Huang River, the second longest river in China and the sixth in the world, with estimated length of 5500 kms, is called the cradle of Chinese civilization. 

In the scenic area, we had the chance to cruise on the river with hovercraft, walked around the bank of Huang He, and took a look at the stone sculpture of Yan Di and Huang Di (炎帝和黄帝). We spent around 1 hour on the hover craft trip (including waiting time) and 15 minutes at the square where the sculpture of two kings located. We paid CNY60 to enter the scenic area, and extra CNY80 for 40 minutes of hovercraft ride. 

The Huang He Scenic Area that we visited was quite far away from Zhengzhou City. For us, it was a pretty cool experience cruising on Huang He as "Huang He is hard for cruising" (黄河自古难行船). There is a local say that "one won't be satisfied without cruising on Huang He" (不登長城非好漢,不遊黃河心不甘) as well. Recommended? Yes, but sincerely, it is not a must. If you are not a "fan" of that particular river, you might opt to skip this site.

From the entrance of the scenic area (upper left), we drove another few hundred meters to the harbor of hovercrafts (upper right). The control panel of the craft looked antique (lower right) but the ride was comfortable with clean and air conditioned cabin. The craft cruised upstream and landed on an area for us to walk along the riverbank.

Our landing site was just beside the Zhengzhou Taohuayu Huanghe Bridge (郑州桃花峪黄河大桥). The scenery there was great, but a chance to step on the sand of Huang He was even greater. Our tour guide told us that it was not a good idea to wash our face in Huang He, as the high content of sand would make our face even dirtier than before. That's why a Chinese idiom says "couldn't get cleansed by jumping into Huang He" (跳进黄河洗也不清).

The hovercraft can cruise on land (upper left) thus suitable for cruising around Huang He area. The river is shallow, due to the sendimentation of sand. During the cruise, we were brought to cross the borderline between downstream and midstream of the river- Taohuayu (桃花峪)(upper right). We rent a horse ride with CNY10 (lower right). Chuhe Hanjie (楚河汉界) is located behind the hills not far away from where we had our horse ride.

It is really hard to cruise with boat on Huang He, as the river is really shallow due to the sedimentation of sand washing down from the midstream of the river. According to Wikipedia, the average sand content in 1 meter cube of water was 3.5 kgs.

The gigantic sculpture of two kings- Yan Di and Huang Di (炎帝和黄帝). The sculpture was made by stone, 100 meters high, with a large square in front of it. The sculpture was completed in 2007, after 20 years of construction. 

Commemorating great historical figures (or more to legendary figures) is good, but is it necessary to build a stone sculpture that size?

After leaving Huang He Scenic Area, we travelled 1 hour 40 minutes to Xinmi (新密), a small town 40 kms northwest from Zhengzhou City. We arrived at Cheered Hotel (承誉德大酒店) at 5:30 pm and took our dinner at the hotel around 6:30 pm (upper left). The hotel owned a nice garden (upper right). Ranked no 1 in Tripadvisor, the hotel provided excellent service and to our surprise, the staff actually lined up and bowed to us when we left the next morning. Cheered Hotel is located a few kilometers from the town center.

Well, after one day trip at Zhengzhou, we took our rest at Xinmi. Staying in Xinmi shortened our distance to visit Shaolin Temple at Dengfeng the next day.

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