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Qiantang River Bore

Qiantang River is the biggest river in Zhejiang Province, running from the west to Hangzhou Bay in the east and plays an important role in water transportation between the east and west. The river is encircled by a group of economically booming cities, including Shanghai, China's leading industrial and commercial hub, and Ningbo, one of China's leading port cities. Qiantang River's extraordinary surging tide is a world-renowned natural wonder caused by the gravitational pull of the stars and planets. The centrifugal force produced by the rotation of the earth and Hangzhou Bay's peculiar bottleneck shape makes it easy for the tide to come in but not go out.

The Qiantang River runs through Yanguan Town, Haining City, 45 kilometers to the Northeast of Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. It originates from the border of Anhui and Jiangxi provinces, flows to the Ease Sea at the Hangzhou Bay. It meanders along over 600 kilometers, including 360 kilometers in Zhejiang Province. It used to be called Zhejiang River, Lucha River or Qujiang River.

Qiantang River's soaring tide is such a marvelous spectacle that only the Amazon River's surging tide can compare. Annually, millions of people from both home and abroad flock here to observe the magnificent tide on the 18th day of the eighth lunar month (also around the Mid-Autumn Day Festival). When the surging tide comes in, the water can rise up to 30 feet, causing a thunderous sound - like that of a thousand galloping horses.

Crossing the river is the Qiantang River Bridge, designed by the famous Chinese engineer Mao Yisheng, who defied the theory held by foreigners that it was impossible to construct a bridge in this particular area. As China's first self-designed and self-constructed bridge, the project lasted from April 1934 to September 1937. Qiantang River Bridge stretches over a distance of 1,453 meters. It is also the first modern double-layered bridge in China. The bridge's upper layer is a highway and the layer below, a railway. Looking out from the Six Harmonies Pagoda one can get a panoramic view of the mighty Qiantang River, the majestic Qiantang River Bridge, and the surrounding landscape.

Riding the wave
The annual arrival of the tidal bore to Qianjiang River in Haining, Zhejiang Province, is an impressive event that is worth a visit - provided that tourists don't stand too close to the guardrails. Since the rushing tide can be life threatening, it is crucial to follow the advice of local authorities regarding safety and security measures.

A tidal bore is a body of water that travels upstream at twice or three times the speed of a normal tidal current. Tidal bores are caused by a combination of lunar and solar gravity and a sandy river bottom. As the massive wave advances up the river, the tide is produced by fresh water that has passed down further and been collected and returned ahead of the incoming tide. The velocity of the advancing saltwater is thus used to calculate how much water comprises the regular tidal flow and how much is caused by the bore effect.

In a layperson's terms, tidal waters are forced in through the bell-shaped mouth of the river, unable to flow out, which creates a massive, bulbous wave of water.

The Amazon River in Brazil has the most famous tidal bore, which stretches 14km across and 3.5 meters high. Similarly impressive are the regular tidal bores at the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada, which can reach approximately 15 meters.

Zhejiang Province's bore reaches between 3.5-8 meters, with the 18th day of the eighth lunar month as the best time to catch the wave. As the tide snakes its way along the Qiantang River, it encounters such obstacles as mountains, dams, and ox-bow bends, forming columns of water between 2 and 10 meters height.

Tide-watching tradition

The tradition of watching the tidal bore on the Qiantang River dates back more than 2,200 years. The custom first appeared during the first century BC and became popular in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

During the Southern Song Dynasty (420-479), the imperial court would arrange for a marine inspection ceremony, with naval vessels racing ahead of the advancing wall of water. More recently, Commander W Usborne Moore of the British Navy (1888-1892) reported waves up to 3.5 meters high.

The more modern tradition of government-sponsored tourist shows dates back to 1994, when the usual tourist fare featuring local food specialties and tourist promotions is on offer. This year, the festival will take place from September 12-16, with celebrations organized by the Zhejiang provincial tourism bureau and Jiaxing city government.

Visitors are advised to bring waterproof gear and stand back from the guardrails due to the recent typhoons that have swept through Hong Kong and Hainan. In 2002, Typhoon Sinlaku made the bore more ferocious than usual, causing minor injuries to vehicles and 10 tourists.

Visitors report that the wave sounded like muffled thunder that grows into a roar, like an avalanche. Many Chinese describe the sound as that of 10,000 advancing horses.

Just as the Southern Song organized boat races ahead of the wave, a new pastime has developed among China's increasingly mobile population: racing the bore by car.

"The China International Qiantang River Bore Festival" is one of the largest tourist oriented festivals in China. Yanguan town of Haijing, located some 45km (about 28 miles) from Hangzhou, is the best place to watch the Qiantang tide. The annual festival is therefore usually held on the 16th day of the eighth lunar month in the area.

During the festival, visitors converge to appreciate one of the greatest wonders of the world -- the Qiantang River Bore. Sacrifices are often made to the bore and various activities are also held to celebrate the annual tide-watching festival, according to local customs.

Special note: The rushing tide can be dangerous if you are careless. It is better to watch the tide in the designated areas, or listen to the advice of the local policemen there or your tour guide who ensure your safety and security. Since the tide may changes quickly and swept the visitors away without notice. Each year, few people die from tide watching, since most of them go beyond the designated tide watching areas.

The best time to watch: September and October are best times to view the tide. Join the festival crowds in Yanguan Town in Haining or Xiaoshan in Hangzhou, and on the 18th day of the 8th lunar month - the traditional tide watching day, or Birthday Of The God Of Waves draws thousands from across the country to await the coming of the bore. Yanguan town in Haining 45 km (about 28 miles) from Hangzhou is the best place to watch the Qiantang Tide.

Qiantang River Bridge: Crossing the river is the Qiantang River Bridge. It is China's first self-designed and self-built bridge, which took from April 1934 to Sept 1937 to complete. Qiantang River Bridge is comprised of its main body and the bridge approach, stretching a distance of 1453 meters (4767 feet). It is also the first modern double - layer bridge in China. The upper layer of the bridge is highway and the layer below is railway. Qiantang River Bridge is designed by the famous Chinese bridge engineer Mao Yisheng, who defied the words spoken by foreigners that it was impossible to construct a bridge in such a spot, and who made a great contribution to the Chinese bridge building industry. Looking out from the Six Harmonies Pagoda, one can get a panoramic view of the mighty Qiantang River, the majestic Qiantang River Bridge, and the surrounding landscape.

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