Rivers. They are a source of life with the water they bring. But they can also be a tempestuous beast that taketh away – both property and lives. China’s ‘mother’ Yellow river (黄河) has been both the love and sorrow of the Chinese people over the past few millennia. Like its cousin the Yangtze (长江), the river nurtured a civilization that advanced to magnificent heights. But it also unleashed sorrows when floods wreaked destruction, sometimes leading to regime change.
Thus it was a real treat to set off to see the first large falls of the river in the remote Hukou (壶口) valley. There in the foothills of the mountainous Sha’anxi and Shanxi provinces (陕西/山西) the river channels from a width of what hundreds of meters wide to merely 20-30 meters or so abruptly, leading to nothing but a torrent over a fall!
In fact this surge of waters is so huge that its roar can be heard kilometers away. Ok we exaggerate – one or two kilometer… And back in the day we walked right up to the edge with little more than chain links as a barrier between us and certain doom if one falls over… Bear in mind we were there in the autumn, when the volume of water would be much lower. Imagine the near tsunami wall of water coming through after the spring melt! Or after the torrents of the mid year rains.
You might know that they closed access to the falls in July of this year precisely because of that…
Ok, a little melodramatic. But it was indeed a spectacle that blew us away. Not just because of the sheer magnificence of the falls, but also the fact that it was a hard journey through the mountains where people still live in caves…really.
Got you interested? Read all about it and more in our road trip here from Xian!