HANGZHOU-WENZHOU High-speed Railway officially began construction last month. The 331-kilometer railway will shorten the trip from Hangzhou to Wenzhou to one hour, compared with three hours currently and five hours by expressway.
The new railway will cut across Xiaoshan, Zhuji, Dongyang, Pan’an, Xianju and Yongjia before reaching Wenzhou on the southeast coast of Zhejiang. Construction is expected to finish in 2021.
Shanghai Daily takes a look at the stops along the new railway, and finds that the route not only connects economic zones but also scenic places. We pick three special areas to drive to, all with attractive views.
Hengdian Town 横店镇
Hengdian Town is the largest film-shooting base in Asia and is known as “East Hollywood.” With its extraordinary scenery, the site has become one of the hottest tourist sites in Zhejiang Province.
The town may prove the ideal place for movie buffs to chase their idols as a series of films and shows are shot every day at Hengdian World Studio, which operates a complex featuring replicas of renowned buildings, scenic spots and other shooting scenes covering different dynasties.
Two of the most renowned replica buildings are the Imperial Palace of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and the Forbidden City, which are both used frequently in filming.
Hengdian also built streets to resemble those in Hong Kong so film crews don’t need to travel there to film a movie. Walking along Queen Avenue, you may bump into “romantic weddings” at St John’s Church on Hong Kong street, getting a close-up look at several movie stars.
The studio also invested 30 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion) to build a replica of Yuanmingyuan, known overseas as the Old Summer Palace. In 2015, the garden opened to the public.
In the town, almost every resident can boast of appearing in a movie or TV show — they are often hired to be extras. Strolling the streets is also fun as there’s always a chance you may run into movie stars.
How to get there:
Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway — Shanghai-Kunming Expressway — Get off at Yiwu Exit
Yongjia County 永嘉县
Not all tourist destinations are centered in big cities. In Zhejiang Province, some low-profile counties feature picturesque scenic areas and popular specialties. Yongjia County, with its historic villas, is close enough to drive there and back over a weekend.
The county is located in southern Zhejiang Province. Nanxi River runs through it and this has led people to settle in the county for centuries.
Tourists can pay a visit to the pastoral river, which starts on the borders of Yongjia and Xianju counties.
Many ancient towns and villages nestle along the river. One of the attractions is Cangpo Village, whose history dates as far back as 800 years ago, when the Li family moved there.
Today, most of the villagers are Li descendants and they still live in the antiqued houses that were built during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
The whole village was designed according to “four scholars’ treasures,” namely, brush pen, ink stone, rice paper and ink stick.
A cobblestone path runs through the village and is named Brush Pen Street. The two ponds used to putting out fire were named ink stone lake. The surrounding hills look like pen racks from a far distance.
The village still retains its Song Dynasty ancestral halls and traditional houses. Black-roofed and white-walled houses are in a valley surrounded by mountains with terraced fields, which present pastoral views for visitors more used to concrete jungles. They all feature up-turned eaves, painted rafters and carved beams.
The Li Ancestral Hall still worships the forefathers of the villagers and literati who were born here.
Another attraction of Yongjia County is Luhetang Nanmu Forest, which is home to 300 other plant varieties and 30 animal species. Today, the lush Nanmu trees cover an area of 30 hectares, which is a favorite among local hikers and outdoor adventurers.
How to get there:
Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway — Shanghai-Kunming Expressway — Zhuji-Yongjia Expressway — Get off at Yongjia Exit
Pan’an County 磐安县
Pan’an County is situated in the middle of Zhejiang Province. It’s the source of Qiantang River high up in a mountainous region where temperatures fluctuate, making it a great place to grow azaleas.
Now is the best season to appreciate the blooming azalea. The county is covered by more than 660 hectares of azaleas ranging from rosy to pink. In late April, the county will host the annual Zhejiang Azalea Festival through June, which is expected to attract visitors from far and wide.
In addition to the azaleas, Pan’an is also home to ancient villages. One of the most famous is Juxi Village, which could date back to the early Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and is protected as a national relic.
Its founder was Kong Duanrui, a 48th generation descendant of Confucius. Kong retreated from Beijing to Zhejiang along with the royal court of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Witnessing corruption and weakness in the royal court, Kong resigned his official position and lived in secluded Juxi.
Now, Kong-surnamed villagers still predominate in the village. Kong’s Temple remains intact and family members still go to worship their ancestors.
How to get there:
Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway — Shanghai-Kunming Expressway — Zhuji-Yongjia Expressway — Get off at Hengdian Exit