A trunklike hill stretches from the bank deep into the lake, It is covered by huge. old trees twined around by wiste-ria and rattan. Along the hillsides and on the cliffs, grow many kinds of wild flowers and fragrant grasses, Boating on the lake, you feel incomparably comfortable as you inhale the fresh air, moisture laden, and heavy with the fragrance of flowers. Watching the mist-covered waters, some beauti-ful legends about the lake come to mind. One legend says the waterfall flowing down from Zhaobi Mountain is a fairy' s 'ressing mirror; another says the Wuzhi (Five Fingers) Springs are the five outlets poked there by a fairyt s five fin-gers in order to drain off extra flood waters;there are many more legends.
Sleeping in the remote mountain area for a long,long time, Wenxiant s Heavenly Lake has received few visitors, but it is just for that reason that it has a special charm. With the development of Gansu tourism, it will attract more and more visitors in the future.
At Bikou, three provinces, Gansu, Shaanxi and Sichuan meet: therefore, it has long been an important hub for land and water transportation, Behind it stand high mountains covered by grotesque rock formations, old trees, wild flowers and lush grasses. In front of it flows the clear Bailong River. Pingtao Mountain and 'Motialing Mountain are among the more famous of the many mountains in this area. Bikou is noted not only for its beautiful scenery but also for its im-portance as a collection and distribution center for tradition-al medicinal herbs and other native products produced in the southern part of Gansu. One surprising thing is that in this remote small mountain town there are rich gold resources, and one of the largest gold prospecting boats in China oper-ates here.
The Panda Habitat
Along the Baishui River and on the mountains which have an elevation of 2. 000-3, 000 meters is one of the few areas where the panda, one of the world' s rarest animals, can live and reproduce freely. Here, Jian Bamboo, the panda' s favorite food, grows in abundance. A panda-protection zone has been established by the government. Additionally, a special base has been set up at Qiujiaba for breeding, rais-ing, and training pandas. More than ten pandas have been sent out from this happy garden to other areas of China.
Flower Picking Festival
In the mountain villages of Wenxian County lives an ethnic group called the Di minority. Dressed and decorated just like Tibetans, they are often mistaken for them, but they are, in fact, Di not Tibetan. Some of their ancestors be-longed to an army detachment of Tibetans sent to occupy this area during the Tang Dynasty and they stayed here nev-er to return to Tibet; during the centuries since, they have fully assimilated with the Di people except for their form of dress.
Each year, from May fifth to sixth of the lunar calen-dar, they celebrate their Flower Picking Festival. The first part of the celebration is to take water from the local springs. It is said that on that day, water fetched before sun-rise will make people lucky and healthy if they drink it or use it to wash with. Later, when the sun rises, all the vil-lagers dress in their holiday-best and joyfully give a warm send-off to the girls who go to a certain mountain to pick flowers. Gorgeously dressed and accompanied by their brothers, these flower-picking girls head for "Cierkan", the "Flower Mountain", laughing and singing all the way. The destination is a steep mountain slope densely covered by mixed trees, shrubs, grasses and, above all, abundant fra-grant flowers. Wearing their bright costumes, these young people make the place even more colorful and dazzlingly beautiful. They sing while picking flowers, and later, in the evening, they dance and sing around the campfires beside which they will spend the night after singing and dancing to their hearts~ content. Early the next morning, carrying bas-kets full of flowers, herbs, and cypres branches on their backs and with the girlst hair decked out in flower wreaths, they head back home laughing and singing all the way. As the parade approaches the village, their waiting families wel-come them by setting off strings of firecrackers and wine is presented to the girls, who, accompanied by the villagers, go to the wheat-threshing ground. Here they all form a circle and start their traditional group dancing. The festival ends in a gay-hearted atmosphere.
This is a kind of Dangshen (Codonopsis pilosula—simi-lar to ginseng)which grows in Wenxian. It has a special chrysanthemumlike gross-grain ("wen") when sliced, hence the name. Its quality is good and its medicinal effect effica-cious, thus it sells well.
Jiachang Dried Persimmon
This dried presimmon is remarkable for its size, bright-golden color, sweet taste, and delicate fragrance. Although produced in a remote mountain area, it is well-known even in Beijing and used to be presented as tribute to the imperial court.
These thin-shelled walnuts are easy to crack and have a high oil content and plump delicious meat. They are a top-quality product.
Wenxian is Gansu' s main orange production area. Re-cently, good species of oranges have been introduced. As a result, orange output is increasing yearly and planting or-anges here is an economic activity with a great future.
Wenxian ami other southern areas of Gansu abound in chestnuts, which are noted for their nutritive and medicinal values. Chestnuts can fortify the spleen and tone the liver. Braised chicken cubes with chestnuts has long been consid-ered an excellent dish for home and banquet.