Have you ever been to the land of the immortals? In the midst of China’s modernity is Suxian, part of Chenzhou in Hunan.
Most of its natural surroundings, from the hills down to the rivers, spanning, more than several square kilometers, are deemed to be once a habitat for the fairies and other heavenly beings that governed the country’s early people and shaped its first few years of history.
Things to Do
Even for the staunchest realists, the legends may sound true once they venture into Suxian, especially in its mountain scenic spots. The verdant green trees, the bubbling brooks and other bodies of water, the towering hills, the captivating caves, and the preservation of the place’s culture and history truly earned it the moniker the “18th blessed place of China.”
There are a lot of places that help define the mountain that a few hours of walk will never be enough. Fortunately, at the foot and in the surrounding vicinities are a couple of accommodation options such as inns and hotels. Cafes are also abundant, and most of them serve authentic Suxian and Hunan dishes like soup from snails and beef or steamed duck and preserved stems from taro.
One of the main highlights of the tour is the Suxian Hill, which is around 2 kilometers from the city center. The route toward the top is adorned with pepper-bearing trees, and you are free to pick and taste it. On the hill, meanwhile, sits a majestic ancient temple, which is based on Taoism philosophy. The temple has gained prominence when around 1938 it became a refuge for General Zhang Xueliang. Besides the traditional religious relics, the temple also holds some of his priceless collections, as well as the three-wonders tablet, a work of three poets who engraved their thoughts on the stone at different times.
Near it is the fabled White Deer Cave, which is 500-plus meters above sea level. It takes the tale of a girl Pam who became pregnant out of wedlock when her stomach caught a red ribbon. Deathly afraid of the people’s scrutiny, she hid inside the cave and, after giving birth, left the baby in there. He was called Su Xian. The boy, though, was taken care of by cranes and white deer, which provided him the milk. He later became an immortal after throwing a curse on the town and teaching his mother how to save the locals from a plague.
A few kilometers from Suxian is Donjiang Lake. Most of the tourists prefer to take a cruise in its very serene waters or take a rest in any of the docks and islets around it. They immerse themselves in the thick forest growths of the mountains or on the teeming marine life, which can be their source of food. Fish in the area are known for their sweetness.
From the Suxian Temple, you can proceed to Peach Blossom Chamber and the Immortal Stone, two of the other popular spots in the mountains.