CHD: DuJiangYan - The Ancient Irrigation System

Early in the morning, cousin and I were to get ourselves ready for our day trip to visit Du Jiang Yan and Mt. Qing Cheng. As we agreed with our driver last night, he will be coming over to pick us up from the hostel as early as 6:30 am. We went down stairs from our room to the hostel lobby once we got ready to meet our driver. Through the dark stairway, we walked down from the staircase passing by the inner courtyard of the building which leads us to the lobby. I was surprised to found that the receptionist boy was sleeping on a sleeping chair next to the reception desk. I was hesitating and stood there for a while, thinking if I should wake him up to open the door for us as it was locked over the night.

Checking my watch, time was running late as our driver should be arriving in minutes, I left with no choice but to wake the little guy up to open up the door. He was looking at me with his blur eyes when I shook him up on his left arm. After getting to know that we would like to get out from hostel, he took the key and open up the door for us. We responded to the little guy with a big thank you and waived good bye to him and get out from the door steps. Seconds later, he locked the door back and headed straight back onto his 'bed' and then we found both of us were standing alone at the side of an empty street without a single soul.

Waited, and waited and waited for many minutes, we were constantly fighting against the bone chilling autumn wind and our driver just did not seem to be arriving. Without a clue, we then decided to give him a call to confirm if he was on his way. I dialed the number and the driver pick it up moment later. He was talking in a very fast tone and his voice was in a very strong accent of local Sichuan slang. Though I can both speak and understand Chinese, but the Sichuan slang proved to be too hard for me to catch what he was trying to say. The guy in the hostel sort of over heard our voices from inside and he then turned up from nowhere, standing right next to us asking for my mobile phone. God must be by my side, he was truly our savior for that morning. He picked up my phone and started to communicate with the driver and ended the call after a few sentences. He explained to us that the driver was on his way to the hostel but was not able to locate the hostel location. He then had explained to the driver the direction to the hostel and assuring us that not to be worried as the driver is on his way. I felt so grateful to him for being so helpful to us, someone who wake him up from his sweet dream. Thank you so much, mate!

We then waited for another 20 minutes before our driver turn up. He picked us up onto his bus with other passengers who were already on board as it seems that we were the last 2 to be picked up. We found ourselves seats right at the end of the bus and I was sitting next to a woman in her mid 40 (I think). It was about 1 hour drive to DuJiangYan. On our way to the site, we were exiting from the city moving towards DuJiangYan town. Along the journey, our little tour guide (his name is Xiao Yang if not mistaken) was greeting everyone of us with his little joke about why a Sichuan dog will barks at the sun. He then further brief us about the site, the irrigation system and about the disastrous 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. He had done a pretty good job trying to keep everyone of us entertained and attended to all our requests throughout the whole journey.

The little tour guide - Xiao Yang.

We arrived at the site around quarter past 8. It was still too early as the site will not be opened till 9 am. We were dropped off at the South Bridge which was located next to the main entrance. We decided to walk around nearby places to look for breakfast as well as checking around the buildings next to south bridge which was sealed and closed off after locals were evacuated out when the earth quake hit in 2008. The structures of the buildings were badly damaged and they will be demolished and rebuilt soon.

South Bridge

 Hawker selling roasted corn and potatoes by the road side.

Different view of south bridge.

At around 9am, we gathered at the agreed gathering point which was next to the entrance gate to DuJiangYan site. We took the ticket from Xiao Yang and head straight into the park.

"Du Jiang Yan (都江堰; pinyin: Dūjiāngyàn) is an irrigation infra-structure built in 256 BC during the Warring States Period of China by the Kingdom of Qin. It is located in the Min River (岷江) in Sichuan province, China, near the capital Chengdu. It is still in use today to irrigate over 5,300 square kilometers of land in the region. The Dujiangyan along with the Zhengguo Canal in Shaanxi Province and the Lingqu Canal in Guangxi Province are known as “The three great hydraulic engineering projects of the Qin Dynasty”. A paragraph taken from  [].

It is all about the ancient Qin governor, Li Bing who was taking charge on building a dam (the current Du Jiang Yan irrigation system) to stop the annual flooding issue which was caused by the fast flowing spring melt-water from the local mountains that burst the banks of the Min River. He then proposed to construct an artificial levee to redirect the a excessive water to the dry Chengdu Plain which made Sichuan as one of the most productive agricultural land in China. The irrigation system proved to be a real success and which represents a truly genius ancient construction. The fact is that this system is still in used today and very much functioning as efficiently as it was for the past 2 thousand years. You may refer to the link above for more detail about the irrigation system.

The site consists of three important parts, namely Yuzui, Feishayan and Baopingkou; they were all designed to automatically control the water flow of the rivers from the mountains to the plains throughout the year. Xiao Yang was leading us walking through the sites to all the "must see" scenic route and to make sure that we will all arrive at the exit gate on time for our next destination - Mout. QingCheng.

First scenic site - the Fei Sha yan. It is a spillway that diverts the sand and stones of the inner river into the outer river.

We then crossed the bridge over spillway and reached the JinGang Dike. Looking back from the dike, we can see the Bao Ping Kou water inlet. Like a neck of a bottle, it is used to bring water into the inner river from Minjiang. At the same time, Baoping Kou controls the amount of the intake water due to its reasonable location.

A closer look at Bao Ping Kou.

To safe time walking from one to the other end of the JinGang Dike, we opted to take the tourists cart which transfer us to the YuZui in 2 minutes. It costs about RMB 10, not too bad of a choice as we need to save some energy for hiking at Mount QingCheng later. We arrived at YuZui in no time. YuZui, like a big fish lying in the Minjiang River, is a watershed dividing the river into two parts: inner river and outside river.

To go to the exit from the site, we need to cross the AnLan cable bridge which bring us to the opposite bank of Minjiang river where the exit was located at.

The bridge was about 4 feets wide and everyone of us had to queue up to cross the bridge as there are a maximum load the bridge can support. As we walked towards the middle of the bridge, it started to swerving from left to right and we could hardly balance our body :). That reminded me of my childhood time where I used to follow my mother to the plantation farm where we needed to crossed a cable bridge like this too. Old memories started to flow in my mind.

Crossed the bridge, we then took a rest at a nearby resting area while waiting for other tour mates before we head for lunch.

Slowly, one by one, everyone arrived at the exit gate and then we boarded our bus and head for lunch right away. It was about 11:30 am before noon. I wish that I could have spent a little more time at the site but as we were joining a day tour, we had no choice but to follow it's crazy tight timeline.