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Trek pristine Fujian forests at Yongchun Niumulin Natural Reserve

Niumulin, in Yongchun county, boasts one of the best virgin forests in Fujian province
A roofed bridge, built of bamboo and wood, in Yongchun Niumulin, Fujian.
With a diverse landscape and a martial arts tradition rooted in tai chi, Niumulin has everything to calm the mind and soul.

Niumulin offers a quiet getaway with its pristine, primitive forests, just an hour's drive from Yongchun county, East China's Fujian province. The forest is not only a refuge from the hustle and bustle of urban life, with barely touched subtropical bio-diversity; but also allows exploration of a well-preserved local culture, whose high point is Wing Chun ungfu.

Dongxi Valley is a must-see, in Yongchun Niumulin, Fujian
Niumulin has a diverse landscape ranging from subtropical rainforest to broad leaf forest. But the most impressive sight is still provided by the plant that has become a symbol of China - bamboo groves.

The classic fight scene in the bamboo forest in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon captures the look of Niumulin in all its glory.

The only difference being, instead of kungfu masters flying through the bamboo reeds, you have monkeys - hundreds of them.

Walking along a stone lined path, snaking its way in the shadows of Niumulin, you can see warning signs everywhere. One of them reads: "Do not tease the monkeys, they are not interested in flirting, they only believe in the law of the jungle."
Monkeys in Yongchun Niumulin, Fujian
But of the group of monkeys we encountered, only one jumped down and grabbed the cookie in my hand, the others simply ignored us.

"The monkeys here are much more polite and civilized than those I have encountered in Emei Mountain in Sichuan province," our guide said.

Niumulin is one of the few relatively undisturbed tourist destinations of China.

As a national scenic spot, Yongchun county forest has had a logging ban since 1958, and is one of Fujian's best virgin forests, on a par with the better-known Xishuangbanna of Yunnan province.

Locals believe the name Yongchun, which means "everlasting spring", has blessed them with prosperity and longevity. But they also know the place would not be what it is today had local officials not chosen a development road less traveled.

"Unlike some of our neighboring counties that have pursued industrial development, we have focused on protecting our natural resources and cultural legacy," says local official Xu Chunhui.

Eco-tourism is expected to become a pillar industry of the county, employing half-a-million people, according to Xu.

"Being a tour guide may not make as much as working in mining or manufacturing, but at least we do not have to worry about accidents and poisoning, with the added advantage of getting a good mountain-climbing workout every day," our guide said.

Yongchun is also the cradle of Wing Chun kungfu.

It is said this kungfu genre, made famous by the hit movie Ip Man, originated in a local kungfu skill known as the White Crane style.

Like many other Chinese martial arts, White Crane emphasizes tai chi, a Chinese exercise system that uses slow, smooth body movements to relax the mind and body, and requires a peaceful environment. The forests surrounding the county offer a natural arena for this martial arts.

South Shaolin Temple, in Quanzhou city, is just a two-hour drive from Niumulin, and is as famous as its Northern counterpart in Henan province, only smaller and less commercialized. But the kungfu here is no less dazzling, and includes some long forgotten skills such as "walking on water".

Yongchun's melodious Nanyin music is another major draw. The songs sung in the southern Fujian dialect, go back more than 1,000 years and in 2009, were included in UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage.
SOURCE: China Daily
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