During our recent visit to China, we took a tour bus from downtown Changsha to Zhang Jia Jie. The drive is a long one, about 330 km and about 4 hours till we reach our destination. Along the way we see a lot of farm land and country scenery. We pass through a couple of short tunnels. Finally we reach the last tunnel. Outside of it is a sign marking the entrance to Zhang Jia Jie.
Our first stop is the Yellow Dragon Caves. But we first have to pass by a lot of local merchants selling everything imaginable. An old bridge marks the entrance to this park we are in called Yang Jia Jie. Next to this bridge, is an unusual structure that serves as the visitor center with a miniature landscaped map on the roof.
A unique sculpture of an ape thinking was built in front of the visitor center to commemorate Earth day. The ape symbolizes the first inhabitants of the Earth and how we all should learn more about the environment.
Along the way to the entrance to the caves, there are numerous bridges that pass over a valley stream and several beautiful pavilions that are perfect to observe nature from. The stream is a haven for hundreds of graceful damselflies. They dance around on the top of the water and provide an entertaining display on this hot summer day.
A large tour map of the caves along with photos from inside tantalizes us at the entrance. We join hundreds of other tourists as we enter the Yellow Dragon Caves.
The caves remained a mystery to locals until the first expedition took place in 1982. Locals believe the caves are the home of the yellow dragon and spirits of ancient warriors. After exploring the caves on foot, we line up at a small dock for a motor boat ride on the dark underground lakes that crisscross through the caves. The boat ride puts a whole new perspective on the caves. Our boat ride through the caves comes to an end, but there’s a lot more to see on foot.
Laser light shines up through a tiny waterfall from the 27 meter high cave ceiling. Lights are positioned just right to make some of the amazing rock formations look like the surface of another world. In one section of the caves, a large cathedral of stalagmites is all around us like some ancient petrified forest.
We come to the end of our journey through these ancient caves. We reflect on all that we’ve seen and wonder about all the ancient mysteries that are still unexplored in this vast labyrinth below.