Forever a fairyland
Updated: 2013-08-01 08:01
By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)
Penglai Pavilion on Danya Hill offers visitors beautiful views of the Yellow Sea. Photos Provided to China Daily
The light tower on Yantai Hill is the landmark of Yantai, Shandong province.
Yantai Haichang Whale Shark Aquarium is the world's first whale shark-themed aquarium.
Yantai in Shandong province is known to many Chinese as the place the immortals once lived, but Zhang Zixuan finds the town has plenty of earthly delights.
Yantai, northeast of Shandong province, has long been known as the fairyland of the immortals.
Penglai in western Yantai is believed to be the place that immortals once lived.
It is said that both the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC)'s First Emperor Shihuang (259-210 BC) and Han Dynasty (206 BC-Ad 220) Emperor Wudi (156-87 BC) came here to seek elixirs.
The Taoist wood architecture complex Penglai Pavilion has stood on Danya Hill since the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
The legendary eight immortals, that are well known to every Chinese, were said to cross the sea here by using their own magic instruments, instead of taking a boat.
Today Yantai is still a fairyland, not for immortals, but for human beings.
The mystique of Penglai is helped by the large number of mirages, a natural phenomenon that makes distant landscapes seem to appear because of tricks of the light. The mirages and the splendid scenery of Penglai attracts millions of tourists every year.
At the city center of Yantai is the world's first whale shark-themed aquarium and the only aquarium that keeps whale sharks in China.
Visitors will be surprised and amazed that the biggest fish in the world with a huge flat mouth can live harmoniously with other sea creatures and a human diver.
There are all kinds of colorful species, including jellyfish, coral and tropical fish that demonstrate the fairyland beneath the ocean.
Under a 360-degree 3-D movie dome, viewers will feel like they are sitting in a submarine that is traveling through deep-sea canyons surrounded by sea creatures, and escaping from a battle between a giant octopus and a whale.
Yantai's name comes from Yantai Hill located in the north of the city. In 1861 Yantai became the first open port of Shandong province, and 17 countries established consulates in Yantai, constructing 30 European buildings on Yantai Hill.
These buildings are now either kept on display in their original condition or used as museums. Two subsidiary buildings that formally housed the British consulate are now the Chinese Lock Museum and Chinese Beer Museum.
Upon the hilltop there is a 12-story lighthouse, a Yantai landmark. The top of the 49.5-meter-high tower offers panoramic views of the port.
Yantai is also the hometown of Changyu, China's first industrialized wine manufacturer. At the former site of Changyu Wine Company, established in 1892 in Yantai, stands Changyu's wine culture museum.
Visitors can find all of Changyu's early products in the museum and learn about the wine-making process. There are wine labels and vessels from all over the world exhibited here. In the interaction area, visitors can print labels with woodcut stamps.
The museum also provides personal customization. Visitors can have their portrait taken and printed onto the wine label so they can take their personalized wine home.
For children, Yantai has the 37 Degree Dream Sea Park, a water world at the seaside that boasts the longest slide in Asia.
In the Penglai Happy Kindom, the 4-D dynamic cinema will take the tourists on a journey flying above some of the world's most famous landmarks.
There are also many joys on Yantai's small islands.
Long Island and Moon Bay are both beautiful.
The Jiuzhang Cliff has an interesting rock texture made up of countless horizontal layers, a product of crust movement that occurred more than 100 million years ago. Besides several natural scenic spots, there is also a museum of Chairman Mao badges that is worth visiting.
Horse-Breeding Island is much quieter. The island is said to be where the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty kept horses, hence the island's name.
Although the island has a racetrack, these days another activity provides much of the entertainment for tourists - cycling. Bicycles are available to rent on the island and it only takes a few hours to cycle the whole island.
After a day cycling, there is nothing better than barbecuing by the seaside and eating a feast.
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