Big rivers enjoy good reputations either for long history or for achievements in fostering human civilization. The Yellow River in China is no exception.
In the Yellow River basin, there is a tourist resort that visitors should not miss experiencing in person. That is the Hukou Waterfall, the second largest waterfall in China.
The Yellow River runs all the way from Qinghai Province to the border of Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces, zigzagging to Jixian in Shanxi Province and Yichuan in Shaanxi Province where it suddenly finds its way through a narrow valley guarded by flocks of flourishing forests on both sides. The riverbed of the Yellow River narrows from 300 metres to 50 metres, turning the tranquil river into a turbulent one.
It is this narrow path that makes Hukou Waterfall's popularity unequalled in China. The tremendous water splashes on the rocks, causing countless waterbeads and foam, then water fumes from which visitors may notice a colourful rainbow by chance. The water fumes curl upwards, turning from yellow to grey, grey to blue. Local residents give such phenomenon an exact metaphor, calling it "smoke from river".
If visitors are lucky enough to have a look at the waterfall in rainy seasons, they will undoubtedly be surprised by the tremendous scene - all streams, rivers and rains converge at Hukou, combining numerous waterfalls into a gigantic one. They may be frightened by the rumbling sound and exclaim that mother nature is incredibly sublime.
It is also said that when boats reach Hukou, boatmen have to embark off their ships and pull them on the bank so to detour around the waterfall. As for flying birds, they will lose their way in the water fumes and can hardly go through this natural barrier.
Just below the waterfall, there is a shining stone called guishi. What makes the stone mysterious is that it moves up and down according to the water level. No matter how large the water volume is, it shows up a little.
In the middle of the river, about 3,000 metres off the Hukou Waterfall, an enormous rock catches the attention of visitors. When the Yellow River flows to this point, it will be divided into two flows, rolling and roaring on and on from both sides of the rock and then rejoining together.
It is also an ideal place to enjoy the glorious full moon. On the 15th of the month on the lunar calendar, standing at Mengmen at night, visitors will notice a bright moon reflected in the river. Standing on the north side and looking out to the south, the reflection of the moon is parted, flowing down beside the rock like tow rows of quicksilver. While appreciating the moon on the other side, the brilliant moon flows head-on towards visitors.
The magnificent sound of Hukou Waterfall is encouraging and thrilling. In September 1938, Chinese people were confronting Japanese aggression. Guang Weilan, a famous patriotic Chinese poet, led a troupe to Hukou to give a special performance as an expression of gratitude to the army. His heart was suddenly conquered by the tremendous momentum of Hukou Waterfall.
It was at Hukou, Guang created the immortal poem - the ode of the Yellow River. Back to Yan'an, Xian Xinghai wrote the tune for this poem, that is the Yellow River Cantata. This cantata expresses a strong sense of national spirit, sung all over the country, encouraging all Chinese people to fight fearlessly against the enemy for the integrity and sovereignty of the country.
Visitors can take the 1572/1573 air conditioned train to Taiyuan at Shanghai Railway Station. It is about 352 kilometres from Taiyuan to Jixian which is quite near Hukou.
You can find accommodation in Jizhou Hotel and guest houses in Jixian.
( Shanghai Star July 25, 2002)