Where the Spirit of Harmony Lives on: Shanglin
Publication time：2022-02-28 15:45:00
Written by Xie Zongming
In a country that regarded agriculture as the most important industry in ancient times, Chinese people highly value the harmonious relationship between humans and nature so that the commoners follow a series of regulations on how and when to hunt, fish, and log. Ancient Chinese literati were also the seekers of this harmony. They focused on the tranquility behind the breathtaking landscapes instead of the natural resources and depicted the beauty of nature to express the unity of human and nature and the importance of inner peace. Shanglin, a county that fully showcases such tranquility and beauty, may allow you to resonate with the idea of harmony.
The sight above the clouds: Daming Mountain
The Northwestern Shanglin is a mountainous region. There lies the highest mountain in the central west of Guangxi called Daming Mountain. Xu Xiake (1587-1642), a famous travel writer of ancient China who traveled throughout China for more than 30 years, wrote when first saw the Daming Mountain that “the mountain is extremely steep and shrouded by the clouds”. Indeed, the mountain enjoys the name of “fairyland on Earth” for its sea of clouds. Though the mountain’s highest altitude is 1,760m, it has beautiful sceneries as good as other high mountains. In autumn when the moisture is brought here by the monsoon, tourists will see the sea of clouds. People’s sight will be slowly blocked by the clouds as they wrap around the mountain side and leave only the peaks visible. By that moment, you might really wonder if that is what it is like to live in the fairyland.
Of course, the attractiveness of Daming Mountain does not rely solely on one thing. Aside from the sea of clouds, sceneries inside the mountain are also beautiful and tranquil. The mountain is lush with trees, waterfalls, and streams, which allows you to feel the tranquility outside of human society as the ancient Chinese poets once sought. The sound of streams flowing, leaves flapping, and birds twittering will make the best symphony of nature. Moreover, the mountain has different views in four seasons. In winter, there will be rime on the trees that paints the mountain white. Visiting the mountain in different seasons allows you to feel the flow of time with your eyes.
Slow your times down: Sanli Yangdu
The Daming Mountain is not the only place Xu Xiake mentioned. In fact, his longest 54-day stay during his travel was in the north of Nanning near Shanglin. Here, he noticed the Sanli Yangdu, a small plain surrounded by mountains with a winding river flowing across. The horseshoe bends of the river make the land look like puzzle pieces. By the river, the rapeseed fields dye the land into yellow. Looking from afar, the blue water, yellow fields, and green mountains fading out in the distance are like a big palette. In Chinese culture, this peaceful countryside scenery is spirit-pleasing for it allows you to get rid of the burden of possession and reconsider the meaning of life.
In Sanli Yangdu, tourists can take a raft along the river to enjoy the view. On the raft, it feels as if the time is slowing down when you are traveling at a speed the same as the ancient people were. The sky, the distant mountains, and the flowing water around you make a unique motion picture. As you rest your mind away from the cold grey forest of steel and cement named metropolis, your sense of time and understanding of mortality will change. Life is short, yet long enough for you to savor the beauty of nature.
Mountains, waters and the answer: Dalong Lake
With the typical karst landscape in Guangxi, Dalong Lake is prodigal of showing its beauty. Million years of water erosion have carved the place into numerous limestone cliffs. Surrounded by water, the isolated cliffs merge into a consistent picture as the lower ones became islands in the lake and the higher ones became mountains. On the surface of the rocky cliffs, the plants find their way through the narrow cracks to reach for the sun. One by one, the thriving lives cover the bald white rocks with a green coat. Compared to the mountains, human is tiny, to water, weak, and to the plants, arrogant. Yet, the human came and made it their home. Nature is grand yet humble, quietly watching her children grow. When the people here realize they are but a pixel in nature grand picture, humans will embrace nature, the tolerant mother.
There is a small pier by the shore of Dalong Lake, where tourists can take a boat to sightsee the area. Slowly floating on the water surface, you will see the distant “small” mountains gradually become gigantic as you approach them. When you pass a mountain along the winding waterway that is shaped by mountains and islands, another one will immediately appear in your sight. The close cliffs and the distinctive distant mountains are like an album of nature that slowly unfolds. When you are surrounded by such splendid mountains and waters, you will understand the harmonic relation between humans and nature.
Tips: Near Dalong Lake, there is another scenic area called Dalong Cave, a karst cave. The cave is located in a mountain of the Dalong Lake, where the water erosion made the mountain hollow. The Dalong Cave is divided into different sections, the largest of which is about 20m high. Each section has a theme named after the shapes of the stalactites and stalagmites.