Tales of China

China

Happy Chinese New Year! As you celebrate the holiday with your families, share in the stories that have woven the fabric of Chinese culture, traditions, and beliefs. We’ve scoured different parts of the mainland (and beyond!) to unearth treasures of folklore—from tales of olden time guardians to otherworldly romances!

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Updated 8 months ago

Broken Bridge

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Hangzhou, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

On the Broken Bridge on West Lake in Hangzhou, Madam White Snake, a creature from the mountains that transformed into a beautiful woman, met Xu Xian, a mortal man. She immediately fell in love with him, and they eventually married. When a monk named Fai Hai discovered the truth about Madam White Snake, he vowed to separate her from her husband by revealing her true form. The monk later imprisoned her in the Leifeng Pagoda. Stand on the bridge where the lovers started their legendary romance. We can’t guarantee that you’ll fall in love with an extraordinary creature, but we’re positive you’ll be enchanted by the scenic West Lake that surrounds the structure. Try to spot the Leifeng Pagoda from afar!

  • Xihu District, Hangzhou, China

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Huoyan Mountain (Flaming Mountains)

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Turpan, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

The Monkey King went on a mission with his disciples (Pigsy, Sandy, and the Tang Monk) to bring Buddhist scriptures back to China from the West. During their journey, they reached Flaming Mountains, a mountain range ablaze with fire. To extinguish the flames, the Monkey King set off to retrieve the Iron Fan, a magical artifact made out of holy palm leaf. However, the princess who kept the tool harbored a grudge towards the Monkey King and refused to give it to him. With one swoop of her fan, she swept the hero 50,000 leagues away. Fortunately, the Monkey King found help from a monk who gave him a magical orb that would shield him from the Iron Fan. He returned to the princess for battle. This time, no matter how hard the princess waved her fan, the Monkey King stood firm. The princess eventually surrendered and handed the Iron Fan to the Monkey King. Flaming Mountains remains the hottest place in China, with temperatures reaching almost 48-degrees Celsius! On good-weathered days, visit to see a cultural gallery dedicated to the Monkey King’s Journey to the West, a geographic museum, and a record-breaking 12-meter high thermometer!

  • Gaochang, Turpan, China
    吐鲁番市高昌区

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Wansong Academy

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Hangzhou, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

During a period when women were expected to stay at home, a girl named Zhu Yingtai asked her father to send her to school. She was allowed, under the condition that she disguised herself as a boy. She attended Wansong Academy where she met Liang Shanbo, a young man with whom she forged a deep bond. After three years, Zhu Yingtai was called back home by her father. When the pair met again, she revealed that she was actually a woman; and Liang Shanbo asked to marry her. Zhu Yingtai’s father refused the union since his daughter was already promised to a wealthy merchant. Heartbroken, Liang Shanbo died. At the time of Zhu Yingtai’s wedding, a strong wind disrupted the procession as it passed by the grave of Liang Shanbo. Zhu Yingtai couldn’t contain her grief and begged for the grave to be opened. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning broke the grave apart. Without hesitation, she jumped into it; but when people looked into the grave, it was empty—except for two fluttering butterflies that emerged. Wansong Academy is now a museum holding treasures used by students like “The Butterfly Lovers” at the time it operated as a school. Relive the romance of China’s “Romeo and Juliet” while you delight in the picturesque surroundings of the building!

  • +8657186079490
  • No. 81 Wansongling Road, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou, China
    杭州市万松岭路81号

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Hangzhou Botanical Garden

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Hangzhou, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

Hangzhou Botanical Garden houses the Jade Spring, a clear, jade-hued pond that is a great spot to witness ornamental fish dancing in the waters. It’s uncertain where the spring’s water comes from, but legend has it that the pond was formed by a powerful dragon who lived by Qiantang River in Hangzhou. One day, a government barge carrying the emperor’s poor laborers passed the dragon’s river. The dragon heard the worker’s bitter cries and overturned the ship to free the people. The dragon flew to the palace to kill the emperor, but a servant hit it in the eye with a slingshot. The dragon sought healing from a powerful monk; but after the monk realized the dragon intended to kill the emperor, he devised a plan to stop him. The monk agreed to heal the dragon if it created a spring around the monastery. The dragon then dug into the ground until water emerged and filled the pond. Before the dragon could surface, the monk moved a pagoda and trapped him underneath.

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Miluo River

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Yueyang, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

After learning of his hometown’s defeat, Qu Yuan—a patriotic poet and advisor to King Huai of the Chu state (during China’s Warring States period)—drowned himself in the Miluo River. After his death, locals threw rice into the river to commemorate him. Shortly after, a man dreamt of Qu Yuan; and seeing that he looked sickly, asked him if he had been eating the rice. Qu Yuan said that the fish had eaten all the rice. He suggested that they wrap it into a pyramid shape with reed or bamboo leaves (now called 粽子 or “zongzi”), so the fish would think it was a water chestnut. The villagers followed Qu Yuan’s advice, but he appeared in another dream saying that the fish had still gotten most of it. To ward off the fish, he instructed the villagers to take large boats decorated with dragons into the water and play loud drums while they rowed. Today, locals in Southern China gather every fifth day of the fifth lunar month to celebrate the Duanwu Festival, or what we’ve come to know as the Dragon Boat Festival. Celebrations typically involve dragon boat races and eating zongzi!

  • Miluo City, Yueyang, China

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Kunlun Mountains

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Hotan, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

At the beginning of the universe, Fuxi (son of the God of Thunder) and his half-sister Nuwa lived in the Kunlun Mountains. They were the only two entities in the world; thus, they were to marry and have children for the purpose of breeding. Fuxi and Nuwa were ashamed to do so because they were siblings, but decided to leave their fate up to Heaven. They set up two fires on the ground, vowing that they would consider it as a positive sign from Heaven should the smoke from the two flames joined together. The smoke connected, so the siblings became a couple. Fuxi and Nuwa are now known as the god and goddess of mankind. Thank Fuxi and Nuwa while you ascend to Kunlun Mountain Pass, an area in the mountain range often visited by travelers traveling between Qinghai and Tibet. Be wary, though, as the altitude rises from 2,800 meters to 4,700 meters. The temperature drops abruptly, and you’ll suddenly move from hot summer to severe winter!

  • China

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The Great Wall of China

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Shunyi, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

During the Qin Dynasty, Emperor Qin Shi Huang drafted many young men in China to build the Great Wall. To escape Chinese officials, Fan Qiliang hid in the home of Meng Jiangnu, a young maiden who was borne out of a bitter gourd. The pair fell in love and immediately married; but, after only three days, Fan Qiliang was caught. Meng Jiangnu was devastated, so she went off on a long journey to look for her husband. When she arrived at the Great Wall, she was told that Fan Qiliang died and was buried into the structure. She was heartbroken and cried for three days and nights. Due to her bitter wail, a 400-kilometer section of the wall collapsed. When Emperor Qin Shi Huang learned about this, he was ready to punish Meng Jiangnu; but, upon seeing her, fell in love and asked her to be one of his concubines instead. She agreed on three conditions: that they look for the body of Fan Qiliang, that they hold a state funeral for him, and that the emperor attend his funeral wearing black to symbolize his mourning. The emperor agreed, but once the terms were met and Meng Jiangnu was supposed to be brought to the palace, she jumped to her death into the nearby Bohai Sea. Trail the Great Wall near the Shanhaiguan Pass to encounter the Meng Jiangnu Temple, a shrine built to remember the loyalty and rebellious spirit of Meng Jiangnu!

  • Huairou, China

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Goddess Peak (Shennu Feng)

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Yichang, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

Along the Wu Gorge’s 12 unique peaks, Shennu Peak (also known as Goddess Peak) is the highest one. Also called Wangxia Peak (Looking Sunglow Peak), the crest is the first to see the sunrise and sunset every day. Gaze up to notice that this particular peak resembles a woman standing gracefully over the water. Legend says that the apex is the incarnation of Yao Ji, the youngest daughter of the Heavenly Mother. During one Mid-Autumn Festival, she and her eleven sisters went to Earth. They encountered Yu the Great who was controlling the Yangtze River’s infamous floods. To help Yu the Great, Yao Ji sent him a book about ruling water. Before she could decipher it to him, however, Yao Ji and her sisters were caught by the heavenly guards. They escaped by cutting the ties that held them together and returned to Earth to help the locals tame the river. Yao Ji became the protector of the people, guiding sailors navigate through the gorge. She and her sisters remained on Earth and turned into the summits that line the riverbank.

  • Wushan Mountain, Yangtze River, Chongqing City, China

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Daning River

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Yichang, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

Yinwotan (Silver Nest Shoal) is named so because the dangerous waters overturned many boats carrying rich men and their treasures in ancient times. Today, it’s safe to pass—it’s even traversed quite often by tourists sightseeing along Yangtze River. According to legend, a boy named Yin Long, who lived near the shoal, worked for a man who owned a boat. One day, a relative of Yin Long’s boss instructed him to steer the boat. The relative was a greedy, boastful man who loved showing off his fortune. While they were passing one of Daning River’s gorges, the boat wobbled, causing a few silver items to drop into the river. The rich man thought that Yin Long did this on purpose, so he had the boy beaten and thrown onto the sand. A dragon prince saw Yin Long in danger, so he sent him a precious wish-granting pearl. When the rich man found out about the pearl, he ordered for Yin Long to be captured. Before he could be caught, Yin Long jumped into a pool in Daning River, turned into a huge dragon, and drowned the rich man and his roughnecks. Yin Long was said to have lurked in the shoal, sinking ships that avaricious men took. He has, however, stopped stirring up trouble after seeing that no greedy men continued to exist.

  • Wushan County, Chongqing City, China

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The world’s oldest civilization, constantly developing and continually improving while keeping the charm of antiquity

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