One of the great benefits of China’s High Speed Train network is that it makes it so much easier to visit places that not so many years ago were a long way off the beaten track.
After three hectic days at the 2018 World Conference on VR Industry in Nanchang (南昌), it was a huge pleasure to be able to wind down by taking the short train ride to Yingtan (鹰潭) and head out to Longhushan (龙虎山/Dragon Tiger Mountain), one of the birthplaces of Daoism.
As you take in the breathtaking scenery and fresh fragrant air, it’s not hard to understand why the Daoist priest Zhang Daoling (张道陵) decided to settle here during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25AD – 220AD) and start distilling his elixirs. Magical and mystical landscapes abound. It’s the perfect place to contemplate and celebrate the wonders of the terrestrial and celestial.
The Longhushan UNESCO Global Geopark, as it is now known, is about 10 miles from Yingtan and covers a vast area of 200 square kilometers. There’s a free bus service that you can use to get to all the major spots, but if you decide you don’t want to spend time hanging around for one to come you can hire an EV trolley bus for four hours at a cost 400CNY (US$60).
One of the first stops on the itinerary is Mosquito-Free Village, which was given this name because it didn’t use to have any of the pesky insects because an ancient Daoist master is said to have driven them out to stop them from bothering his mother. Indeed, his mother’s house still stands in the village to this day and is looked after by a couple of Daoist priests who carried out an incantation for me, the details of which I am not allowed to reveal for three days.
According to my guide, the village no longer lives up to its name thanks to the growing number of restaurants that have been set up to serve tourists, not to mention all the chickens that run around it. Fortunately I didn’t come across any mosquitoes while I was there, and I was able to enjoy the magnificent scenery bite-free.
Watch out for the second part of this article on Longhushan tomorrow.