Thursday, 17 September 2009

Wuyishan Nine Bend Stream

Wuyishan is not a particularly high mountain like Mt Emei in Sichuan, does not have weird jagged peaks like Huangshan in Anhui, nor is it as well quoted as Tai Shan in Shandong. However, it is unique for having a shallow stream flow through its valley among the different mountain peaks with a scenery similar to that of Guilin (with the exception of granite peaks instead of Guilin's karst landscape).

Nine Bend Stream 九曲溪

Nine Bend Stream is one of the most important attractions at Wuyishan. A sign at the jetty proclaims the nine bend stream as the most beautiful stream in China.
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Newly built waiting lounge to cope with the huge number of visitors. The bamboo rafts are despatched in waves at approximately 2hr intervals. It costs RMB100 (S$21.30) per person for the 90mins ride downstream.
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Walking down to the jetty with the mountain range still being shrouded by the morning mist.
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Summer is the peak travel period at Wuyishan and thus long queues are to be expected. However, it does not take long to move to the front of the queue.
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A long line of bamboo rafts (竹筏) await passengers downstream.
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...as well as upstream. Each raft can accomodate 6 passengers.
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Dozens of rafts congregate at the start of the 9km, 90mins journey downstream. At this point, the boatmen will make a request for a tip of RMB20 (~S$4.20) per passenger for narration during the journey.
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Guilin-like karst scenery, except the peaks are granite instead of limestone. It is said that although Guilin's scenery is breathtaking, it is but a small part of what Wuyishan has to offer. "桂林漓江景色虽美, 只不过武夷山一小曲"
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There are a number of small rapids present throughout the stream, and it was quite exhilarating to feel the raft being accelerated smoothly through the rush of water.
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Most of the landforms and rocks along the stream requires a certain amount of imagination to visualise it as something vaguely familiar. For example, this rock resembles a MacDonalds Big Mac.
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Legend has it that this rock used to be a toad which terrorised the inhabitants of the area. As a punishment, its lower lip had been cut off and it was cast into stone
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The different bends along the stream are marked by word carvings and poems on the rocks, such as these at bend 6 六曲.
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Shuang Ru Feng 双乳峰 in the background.
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Bend 5 五曲.
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Tian You Feng 天游峰. This is the main 'tourist' peak in Wuyishan. The highest peaks in Wuyishan, however, lies within a nature conservation area and one requires a permit to visit them.
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"Jade Emperor Fitting Room" 玉皇大帝更衣室
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This rock was said to resemble the Sydney Opera House...
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...while this pointed rock bears a striking resemblance to the famous scene from Titanic (minus the male and female lead of course:P)
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Most of the stream is very shallow and the 2 boatmen push the raft forward by sticking their bamboo sticks in the water and pushing it. The deepest point along the entire stream is 35m, which location is shown in this photo. The holes in the rock above used to hold coffins. However, it remains a mystery how people in the past managed to place coffins in such an inaccessible location!
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More of the "coffin holes" are located at the back of Tian You Feng 天游峰. The ascent up to Tian You Feng 天游峰 is not for the faint hearted!
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Cruising down the third bend of the stream. Two-thirds of the journey downstream had been completed.
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Yu Nu Feng 玉女峰 which comprises of 3 "ladies" standing together. This formation is widely used to represent Wuyishan.
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A standard 'postcard' shot featuring the two unique features of Wuyishan - bamboo rafts and Yu Nu Feng 玉女峰 in the background.
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It is tough work pushing the bamboo raft along the stream, and one of our two boatmen actually lost his balance and fell into the stream! However, they are also heard to be paid relatively high salary (which probably accounts for the ticket price as well).
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I guess by now you would be wondering if water had managed to seep into the raft. The answer is yes as there is always a 2-3cm thick layer of water when the raft is fully loaded. However, the overall buoyancy provided by the hollow bamboo is sufficient to keep the raft stable. Passengers are requested to wear life jackets as a safety precaution, as well as to stradle across the poles to distribute their weight instead of placing their weight on just one pole and cause even more water to seep in!
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The final bend of the stream, the "First Bend" with Da Wang Feng 大王峰 in the background. They are numbered in reverse as the route was meant to be in the opposite direction in the past, but it would take much longer to row upstream as compared to downstream.
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A pine tree 送客松 bades visitors farewell at the last of the 9 bends.
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Looking back at the final bend of the journey.
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Veering off into a tributary, the scenery changes to that of a tropical rainforest.
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After exactly 90mins, the jetty at Wuyigong 武夷宫 marks the end of the famed Wuyishan bamboo raft experience. The rafts are later collected and transported in lorries back to the starting jetty.
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Wuyigong 武夷宫

Wuyigong is a small town located besides the terminating jetty for the Nine Bend Stream raft experience. It consists of mainly tourist souvenir shops and a museum.
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Aboriginal Museum. It was formerly known as Zhu Xi Memorial Hall.(朱熹纪念馆)
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Next Post: Wuyishan - Other Attractions

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