The prefecture-level city of Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, lies on the coast, roughly midway between Ningbo and Wenzhou, though slightly closer to the latter city. In fact, Taizhou lies roughly in the center of Zhejiang Province's southwest-northeast oriented axis. A prefecture-level city comprises of course much more than just the city proper, it also comprises a smaller-to-larger "upland" area. In the case of the prefecture-level city of Taizhou, it stretches to the border with Wenzhou to the south, to the border with Lishui to the southwest, to the border with Jinhua to the west, to the border with Ningbo to the north, to the border with Shaoxing to the northeast, and, since it is a coastal city, it faces the East China Sea to – the east, of course!
The prefecture-level city of Taizhou – i.e., greater Taizhou – enjoys a long if sparsely-documented history, and a human prehistory that dates back some 5000 years to near the end of the Neolithic Age (BCE 10,000-8000 in China), when a local Liangzhu Culture (BCE 5300-4200), the Xiatang Culture, situated near the present-day city of Xianju, about 95 kilometers west-northwest of present-day Taizhou, occupied this part of present-day Zhejiang Province (Xianju belongs to the present-day prefecture-level city of Taizhou).
Greater Taizhou is also home to a dinosaur find, a creature whose Latin designation is Chilantaisaurus zheziangensis, aka the Jiangnan ("South of the Yangtze River") Winged Dinosaur, though paleontologists place this infraorder, Carnosauria, closer to the genus Allosaurus ("Different (as in "odd-ball") lizard") than to modern birds, the latter of which belong to the clade (a kind of suborder) Coelurosauria. But both orders are indeed closely linked, for they share the same higher-order hierarchy (from high to low), namely, Class: Reptilia; Superorder: Dinosauria; Order: Saurischia; Suborder: Theropoda. The most famous/ infamous Theropoda is of course the Tyrannosaurus rex, or T.rex, for short.
A Brief History
The present-day city of Taizhou was first established as Huipu Village by China's first emperor, Emperor Qin of the short-lived Qin (BCE 221-207) Dynasty, shortly after Qin Shi Huang cum Emperor Qin, whose Qin Dynasty reign (BCE 221-210) was preceded by his Qin State reign (BCE 9th Century-221), unified China, having defeated the last opposing Warring States (BCE 475-221) Period state, Qi State (BCE 1046-221). The Warring States Period was the second half, as it were, of the Eastern Zhou (BCE 770-221) Dynasty, the "first half" being the Spring and Autumn (BCE 770-476) Period. In BCE 85, during the Han (BCE 206 – CE 220) Dynasty, Huipu Village became Huipu County, and in CE 257, during the Three Kingdoms (CE 220-280) Period, Huipu County became Linhai Prefecture.
Taizhou first began to be significantly populated, creating what one might rightly call a (Han Chinese dominated) Taizhou culture, toward the end of the Western Jin (CE 265-316) Dynasty and the beginning of the Eastern Jin (CE 317-420) Dynasty, when massive numbers of Han Chinese people began to flee southward into the region south of the then "cradle" area of China, or into the lands south of the Yangtze River that were occupied by the indigenous Bai Yue ("Hundred" Yue) people.
This area had much earlier been formed into a polity – the Yue State (BCE 6th Century-334) – by the Yue people during the Spring and Autumn Period of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (Yue State was defeated and absorbed by a rival state – itself defeated by a different state which in turn was defeated by yet another state, and so on and so forth – during the turbulent Warring States Period, a process of hostile consolidation that ultimately produced the aforementioned Qin Dynasty). The southward-fleeing Han Chinese people were fleeing the invasion of China from the north by warring Turkic tribes – in fact, the Eastern Jin Dynasty was nothing but the Western Jin Dynasty in retreat, as the remnants of the defeated Western Jin Dynasty moved their northerly capital from Luoyang southward to Jiankang (present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, but known by foreigners during the Colonial Era in China as Nanking (as in the 1937 Nanking Massacre).
Taizhou began to prosper with the influx of the highly industrious Han Chinese, and in CE 621, during the illustrous Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty, Linhai Prefecture became the city of Haizhou, then, a year later, the city was renamed to Taizhou. It was during the Tang Dynasty that "Taizhou culture" began to expand exponentially. The famous Tang Dynasty poet, Du Fu (CE 712–770), on a visit to Taizhou, described the city as a place of "broad lands, vast seas, white clouds and green islands". The rapid development of the city of Taizhou would continue through the Song (CE 960-1279) Dynasty, especially during the Southern Song (CE 1127-1279) Dynasty, when Tiazhou became a regional cultural and educational center.
The city of Taizhou is the proud home of many famous sons and daughters, including men (and women) of letters as well as historical figures. In all, 96 famous persons recorded in various Chinese historical annals are either sons or daughters of the city of Taizhou – not bad for a city of Taizhou's modest size! Taizhou became a prefecture-level city in 1994. The city is also a part of the Shanghai Economic and Technical Development Zone, a status that has contributed to the rapid economic development of the prefecture and the city proper.
You don't have to be a famous Tang Dynasty poet to see that Taizhou is blessed with "broad lands, vast seas, white clouds and green islands"! Taizhou slopes from its mountainous west to its lowland east, near the sea, spanning mountains, rolling hills and grassy plains, and, out to sea, several green islands. Thanks to its zig-zag coastline, Taizhou is characterized by numerous bays, inlets, coves and of course a couple of deep-water harbors, such as Damaiyu Port at Yuhuan Leqing Bay and Jiantiao Port at Sanmen Bay. The city's central port, Haimen Port, is situated at Taizhou Bay. In all, coastal Taizhou boasts an impressive 4 bays and 21 ports.
Apart from the deep-water harbors, much of the sea surrounding Taizhou is characterized by shallow water. Slightly farther offshore are the excellent fisheries, Dachen, Maotou and Pishan. The shallow-water coastal areas immediately surrounding Taizhou provide an ideal habitat for seafood cultivation, such as shrimp (Taizhou is China's major exporter of frozen shrimp to neighboring Japan), crab and shellfish. In fact, Taizhou's fishing and seafood cultivation industry is ranked as the highest in the province, while the city of Wenling, a part of greater Taizhou, boasts the largest wholesale seafood market in all of China.
Taizhou is as famous for its fruits as for its fish. The Taizhou area's honey-sweet Huangyan Mandarin orange has been cultivated for over 1700 years, and is prized by orange lovers throughout China and round the world. The Huangyan Mandarin orange comes in over 2000 varieties, 10 of which have won coveted prizes at the annual China Agricultural Trade Fair, which is held in a different city each year (this year's CATF will be held in Chengdu, Sichuan Province). Indeed, the Huangyan District of Taizhou is considered the orange capital of China. If you have ever bought a tin of Mandarin oranges, chances are it was produced in Taizhou, given that Taizhou stands for 1/3 of all canned Mandarin oranges in the world.
Other well-known oranges native to Taizhou include the Gaocheng orange and the Jicheng orange, while other famous Taizhou area fruits include the red bayberry (Myrica rubra – sometimes mistakenly translated as waxberry – a sweet, very tart tropical fruit that is oblong and measures between 1½ - 2½ centimeters), the loquat (Eriobotrya japonica, alternately known as the Japanese plum and the Chinese plum) and the Yuhuan shaddock (Citrus grandis, known alternately as the Chumen shaddock and the pummelo, the flesh of the Yuhuan shaddock tends to be reddish and has a strong but agreeable flavor that is also tart). The Yuhuan shaddock is rated as one of the four most famous shaddocks in the world.
In addition, Taizhou is famous since ancient times for its rice, being one of the primary rice growing habitats in Zhejiang Province. Thanks to its first-rate agricultural experts, the rice fields and paddies of the Taizhou area have achieved the enviable distinction of being the most productive in all of China, measured in terms of yield per square unit of land (typically measured in Mu, where 1 Mu = 667 square meters, or about 1/8 of an acre).
In terms of industrial production, Taizhou, thanks to its inclusion in the Shanghai Economic and Technical Development Zone, is a genuine microcosm of Chinese industrial production – in a word, Taizhou produces just about anything and everything that one can conjure up, from automobiles (and motorcycles, scooters and mopeds) to household (and industrial) appliances to industrial machinery such as cookers, pumps and valves to furniture to an infinite variety of items in moulded plastic to clothing (and clothing manufacturing machinery) to pharmaceutical products to food & beverages to handicrafts and trinkets. A famous-in-Taizhou Chinese saying of relatively recent vintage has it that "where there are humans, there are Made-in-Taizhou products!"
For the tourist looking to take a number of well-made but easy on the luggage (read: lightweight and occupying a minimum of space) Chinese souvenirs with him or her back home, the boutiques and bazaars of Taizhou are a shopper's paradise! Bamboo carvings, wood carvings (usually from the large, uniquely-grained roots of exotic hardwood trees), shell carvings, waxwork items, paper fans, paper lanterns, straw hats, glass sculptures, stone sculptures, pearl necklaces, bracelets and rings, embroideries and woven straw mats in all sizes and shapes are but a few of the many excellent handicraft items that are made in this city and its environs. Taizhou's crystal ranks first in Asia and second in the world. Taizhou is also a major producer – and exporter – of Christmas decorations.
The inhabitants of Taizhou speak for the most part a dialect of Wu Chinese known as Huangyan Hua. The Huangyan Hua dialect is decidedly not mutually intelligible with Mandarin Chinese, and is only partially intelligible with Shanghainese. Other local dialects include Min Nan and the Wenzhou dialect. Since none of these dialects are fully mutually intelligible, most inhabitants of Taizhou learn to speak any or all of the other languages in question that may be relevant to them (it would be easier if all agreed to speak their own dialect plus Mandarin, but people are funny! – it also makes for diversity, I reckon).
Greater Taizhou is also rich in tourist venues, from the historical to the cultural to the splendidly natural. Mount Tiantai is the birthplace of the namesake Chinese Buddhism sect. It is also the birthplace of the Southern sect of Chinese Taoism. Here are also ancestral temples of the Tiantai-sect of Japanese and Korean Buddhism. Some of the highlights of Mount Tiantai are: Chicheng Hill, Guoqing Temple, Hanshan Lake, Huading Peak and Shiliang Waterfall, the latter considered one of the Top 10 scenic sites of Zhejiang Province. But a trip to Mount Tiantai would be worth it for the natural landscapes – and skyscapes – alone, for Mount Tiantai is clothed in a deep green verdure with rising peaks alternating with plunging valleys, and all of it accentuated by deep blue skies above.
Greater Taizhou's most popular tourist venues, after Mount Tiantai, are the following:
The Changyu Dongtian Scenic Area – a National Class 4A site situated near the village of Wenling. The stone that has been quarried here over the past 1500 years has left a magnificent cave scenery, covered with just the right amount of trees, shrubs and flowers to remove the manmade aspect. If you like to hear your voice echoed, here it the place to do it!
The Fangshan-Nansong Mountain Scenic Area – comprises three component parts: Fangshan Mountain, Lion Peak and Longjiangmen Gateway. The scenic area is also linked to Mount Yandang, named a World Geopark in 2005 by UNESCO.
The Taozhu Provincial Scenic Area – part of a national geological park situated in the vicinity of Linhai. The scenic area's highlights are Taozhu Ancient Town and Coral Rock, and
The Xianju National Scenic Area – located in Xianju County (site of the area's Neolithic Age Liangzhu Culture). The scenic area offers a veritable fairy landscape, and the Yong'an River cruise is unmissable!
The Taizhou Ancient City Wall – alternately known as the South China Great Wall and the Great Wall South of the Yangtze River, it was begun during the Eastern Jin (CE 317-42) Dynasty, when the Han Chinese "immigrants", fleeing from the troubled north, settled here. Its construction lasted through the Sui (CE 581-617) and the Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasties (apparently the Han Chinese settlers found out that they were in no immediate danger from the Turkic invaders from the north, so they took their good time!). The wall, originally over 6000 meters long, is said to have stood model to the Badaling stretch of the Great Wall north of Beijing (aka the Badaling Great Wall) that was originally cobbled together of local "debris" (stones, decayed tree trunks, etc.) but was "fortified" (recreated from scratch, actually, so that it resembles the rest of the Great Wall) during the reign (CE 1572-1620) of the Wanli emperor, Emperor Shenzhong of the Ming (CE 1368-1644) Dynasty.
Other must-see tourist sites include:, Shaddock Orchard, Shitang Fishing Village, Taizhou Sea World, Yuhuan Agricultural Sightseeing Garden and Wu Zixiong Glass Art Exhibition Hall. If you would like to check out the islands, then the following are definitely worth a visit: Dachen Island, Dalushan Island (nicknamed "the forest park on the sea") and Shepan Island, nicknamed "thousand cave island".
Besides the things to eat and buy and see in Taizhou, there is a string of annual festivals celebrated here that you absolutely should take part in if you wish to meet Chinese people in a relaxed, informal setting, when they are enjoying themselves the most. These are:
The South China Great Wall Festival (October-November), held at Linhai,
The Taizhou Stone Culture Festival (April-May), celebrating the myriad of artistic uses of unique types of natural stone, especially as used in small sculptures (the closest parallel in the West is perhaps soapstone carvings),
The Taizhou Tourism Festival (held repeatedly, May-September),
The Sanmen Blue Crab Festival (September), held in the harbor of Sanmen, Taizhou,
The Yuhuan Pomelo Festival (September-October), celebrating the fruit by the same name,
The Xianju Red Bayberry Festival (June), celebrating you-know-what, and
The Mt. Tiantai Azalea Festival (April-May), celebrating – of course – the azalea plant.
Taizhou's climate belongs to the subtropical monsoonal type, which results in a rather hot summer in late June and most of July, where the monsoonal rains are heaviest in early May, late June and early September. The average July temperature (the hottest month, as suggested) is 34 degrees Celsius, while the winters are not correspondingly cold – though long – falling to an average of 4 degrees Celsius. Generally, the best tourist season in Taizhou is from April through October.
If you are looking for a great place that offers a bit of everything, from good food to interesting historical and cultural scenic sites to temptingly fascinating shopping possibilities to limitless natural beauty, it is hard to beat the off-the-beaten-path city of Taizhou, home also to the local southern Chinese Opera, Taizhou Luantan. Welcome!