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Copyright 2001-7 by Sue Brown & Dr.
Secret Yongtai Valley
Adapted from "Fujian Adventure",
Magic Fujian, and other books.
Fuzhou Links History
Nantai Island (Foreign Devils & Chinese Ghosts)
Secret Yongtai! The deep valleys,
high mountain meadows, and cascading waterfalls of Yongtai are one of
Fujian¡¯s best-kept secrets. While hundreds
of thousands of Laonei visit the place each year, few Laowai have heard
of it. And then we met Mr. Brian Hodges, General Manager for Rocky Mountain
(Fuzhou) Drug Co. Ltd. When he said he spends
ever weekend in Yongtai, we saddled up Toyota and headed for this delightful
enclave the very next day!
Yongtai was settled during the Stone Age and established as an official
county in 766 A.D. The 2,241 sq. km. county has over 77 peaks exceeding
1,000 meters, most of them blanketed in lush pine and bamboo forests nurtured
by dozens of waterfalls with names like ¡°Runny Nose Waterfall.¡±
Yongtai has scenery below ground as well, with names like ¡°As You Wish
It Cave,¡± ¡°White Cloud Cave,¡± ¡°Ever Joy Cave,¡± ¡°Successful Candidate Cave,¡±
and ¡°Immortal Beings Cave.¡±
One of Yongtai¡¯s greatest drawing cards is its 13 hot springs. The Hot
Springs Hotel, while plain, offers mineral
baths on tap, and right next door is a gigantic hot springs swimming pool
that stays at 98 degrees year round, thanks to water piped from 400 feet
Local officials say Yongtai has 117 historical and cultural relics (not
including the ancient pipe-smoking relics in bamboo rockers). Favorites
include the Yuan Dynasty Mo¡¯Ai cliff inscriptions (I¡¯ve seen better ones
in American subways) and the Fangguang Palace, which is a cliff-side Buddhist
temple that reminds me of ancient Indian cliff dwellings in the southwestern
Yongtai is also a center of Southern Shaolin
Kung Fu¡ªthough I learned that just about every place in Fujian
claims to have not only the best pounded pork and pretty girls but also
the best kung fu.
Yongtai is a perfect place to bone up on history and culture, or just
to do just nothing for a few days but eat mountain cuisine and hike the
falls (though, as everywhere in Fujian, keep an eye out for cobras, bamboo
vipers, 33-foot pythons, deng deng).
When Chinese food begins to wear, there¡¯s always the great chicken sandwiches
and chocolate mint ice-cream of the delightful (and cheap) ¡°Candor Fire
Chicken,¡± right next door to the Hot Springs Hotel.
At night we stroll the bustling streets, shout ¡°Laonei, Ni Hao!¡± at the
pressing (but friendly!) crowds, and set off giant fireworks that would
set us back a small fortune back in America. There¡¯s no place like Yongtai!
Getting There and Back. Many roads
lead to Yongtai, but I prefer to exit the Xiamen-Fuzhou highway 10 km
north of Putian (which avoids city traffic),
backtracking a bit, and cutting across the mountains, then returning via
the Yongtai¡ªFuzhou highway.
delightful road from Putian passes valleys with terraced fields, pounded
earth buildings, and rows of mushroom cultivation huts covered in gourd
vines. Fujian folk don¡¯t waste an inch of flat land. Even shoulders separating
the highway from the depths below are planted in Chinese cabbage and spinach.
Flat land is sacred and never wasted, so homes are built on vertical hillsides
that I wouldn¡¯t attempt without an elevator.
Forests of bamboo tower over the mountains like giant bottle brushes or
green feathers. The scenery is a riot of color¡ªan incredible juxtaposition
of emerald rice paddies and turquoise rivers. The town of Linglu is situated
in a beautiful valley planted in rice, elephant ears, and bananas. A creek
wound westward, under a small bridge, into lush mountains that reminded
me of Maui¡¯s scenery on the road to Hana.
Bamboo gives way to pine and evergreens as we approach the mountain scenic
area, and a new gate of imitation rocks that reminds me of the Flintstones¡¯
The modern highway from Yongtai to Fuzhou eases gently through wider valleys
along the broad Min River, which is always abuzz with sampans and sand
dredgers. The Yongtai Fuzhou road is so good now it only takes an hour.
It¡¯s almost too fast. But I¡¯m not complaining, because even after exploring
the secrets of Yongtai, it¡¯s nice to get back home to Magic Amoy. And
after a good rest we¡¯ll head south a bit to Putian, birthplace of the
sea goddess Mazu.
Try these other Fuzhou sites:
Fuzhou Panda World¡ªthe only panda research site outside
of Beijing and the panda¡¯s home of Sichuan province.
Forest Park¡ªone of the top 20 in China. It¡¯s out of town,
so take the 945 or 811 bus.
Qing Zhen Mosque¡ªsupposedly started building in 628 AD
Fuzhou Confucian Literary Temple¡ªstarted construction
in 921 AD.
Fuzhou Municipal Museum¡ªtake 971 or 972 bus.
Linzexu Statue, on the south side of Fuzhou. It is 7.75
m high, weighs 7.3 tons, which I believe. I couldn¡¯t move it.
History (birthplace of Chinese Maritime Industry)
Island (famous "China
Pagoda," Sino-French Battle, etc.)
Haunted Nantai Island Tour (Includes old Consulates, Rotary
Club, haunted churches...)
of Fuzhou: 3 Wards & 7 Streets, Li Family House, Banyan City,
Yushan Hill and White Pagoda, Clay People, etc.
Valley of Yongtai (Fujian's Best Kept Secret)
Cuisine (Buddha Jumps the Wall Soup, Pounded Pork, Fish Balls)
was also spelled Foochow, Fuh-chau, Fuhchau, etc.
Fujian Sites Fujian
Foto Album Xiamen
by Scott Ballantyne
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