In the south of Hainan Island lies the Diaoluo Mountain National Forest Park, one of the most precious virgin tropical forests in China.
It made a deep impression on me when I went there recently.
Driving from Haikou, the capital of Hainan Province, along the east Haiyu Highway for about 200 kilometres, I reached Linshui County.
From there, about 40 kilometres to the west, is the national park. I was lucky to be accompanied by Yu Weisun, deputy director of the Diaoluo Mountain Forestry Administration Bureau and the manager of the Forest Travel Agency. He is from Shanghai and has worked in the park for 12 years.
Our first stop was Younger Sister Lake, one of the eight scenic spots in the park. It covers about 50 hectares. Driving the car by the lake, The road was lined with wild flowers I had never seen before and the leaves were dancing in the trees.
Walking along the lake, we arrived at the village of Dali, which is famous for its unique waterfalls. Looking into the distance, I could see two against the side of a cliff, one wide on the left, the other narrow on the right, hence the name Sisters Waterfalls. The pool on the top is as peaceful as a mirror. However, when the water reaches the edge of the cliff, it suddenly falls as quickly as a fleeing hare. The contrast creates an amazing scene.
When we walked towards the upper reaches of the pool, the road became narrow and difficult as if we were exploring unknown territory. Yu said some people had suggested the road should be expanded, while others thought that would destroy the beauty of the area. "The two sides haven't reached an agreement. Let's explore our way in the woods today," Yu said.
We battled through the jungle. There came the sound of falling water from afar, suggesting that the waterfall was quite large. And it is. The magcnificent fall called Tuonanri is about 70 metres high and resembles the tail of a horse. It flows swiftly year-round and is especially heavy during the rainy season. Even in the dry season, it flows elegantly against the cliff. Below the fall is a round pool named Fairy Maiden Pool. The water is deep, quiet and beautiful, which gives me a kind of mystical feeling. The plants around the pool bloom with various kinds of flowers, sending out a fragrance which could almost make you drunk.
After we visited the falls, Yu took us to the southeast summit of the mountain, where there is a 10-metre platform overlooking the magnificent landscape of Diaoluo Mountain and the horizon. The 1,499-metre mountain peak, the sea of forests, the clouds, mist and the Lingshui Plain make you feel relaxed and joyful.
Leaving the platform, we kept going north. Although the mountain path was rough and rugged, we felt cool and relaxed as the weather was pleasant. Yu told us we had reached the Diaoluo Mountain holiday resort 900 metres above sea level. He said the resort was originally a village inhabited by the people of the Miao ethnic group, where the king of the Miao people, Chen Riguan, often held banquets in the harvest season. The king and his son were so brave and patriotic that people set up a monument to them.
It is a rare chance for people who live in big cities to experience nature. The exotic tropical flowers and rare herbs, which I had never seen before, the narrow road in the dense rainforest, the fresh air and the streams all fascinated me and made my journey full of fun.
We stopped in front of a huge tree and Yu said it was a fine variety of a Daerydium pierrei Hikel, which is tall, straight and as hard as iron. It is said that sparks fly when people try to cut down these trees. Local people nicknamed the tree "central tree" because they were used to build important places like the Tian'anmen Rostrum and the Great Hall of the People. The trees are red, tall and extremely thick and strong. Six travellers joined hand in hand could not encircle one of these trees.
There was another kind of tree called "butterfly." With a delicate outer appearance and a pretty name, it is actually hard and solid, and a very good material for shipbuilding.
Diaoluo Mountain, with an average temperature of 20 C and an annual rainfall of 2,160 millimetres, is a paradise for plants. There are 3,500 kinds, and 250 species of flowers in the forest. Each year, from early spring, various kinds of flowers bloom one after another, including silk cotton, azalea, magnolia, round cardamom and phoenix flower.
There are 112 species of birds and 34 species of animals including macaques, clouded leopards and zibet, anteaters, deer, peacocks and boa constrictors, plus more than 20 kinds of butterflies. Yu said local people had also found apes in the forest.
The forest is also a treasure house of Chinese herbal medicines such as areca, agalloch, Ganoderma and lucidum. The Ganoderma lucidum is believed to be effective in treating some forms of cancer.
When we walked out of the primeval forest, the sun was shining above. In front of us was the last but the most magnificent scene in the park - the Fengguo group falls. Yu said it was about 1.5 kilometres long, consisting of more than 10 falls, among which the biggest is 150 metres high and 12 metres wide. Seen from afar, the falls flow rapidly, both grand and glorious.