Menyuan Hui Autonomous County is situated in Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in northwestern China's Qinghai Province. Menyuan is located in the eastern region of the prefecture, where Qinghai borders Gansu Province. Menyuan is noted for its beautiful scenery, most notably the rapeseed flowers, especially when they are in blossom. Every year, a rapeseed flower festival is held in Menyuan, from July 18-25. The rapeseed flowers attract tourists to the county.
The county's sprawling — stretching as far as the eyes can see, all the way to the horizon — grasslands are covered with golden rapeseed flowers when the plants are in bloom. That beautiful, golden luster lasts from the beginning of July to the end of July; however, July 10-20 is the best time to admire and photograph the flowers. In July, Menyuan is like Mecca for photographers, from around the world, who flock to the county to capture in still life the magnificent golden sea of rapeseed flowers.
The rapeseed flowers cover nearly 600,000 mu (40,020 hectares) in Menyuan. Qingshizui Viewing Platform (also called Yuanshan Viewing Platform), which is located in Qingshizui Town, in Menyuan, is one of the most famous spots to view the rapeseed flowers. The platform is built on a mountain. Travelers can shoot photos of the flowers from every direction on the platform. When a gentle breeze blows, the flowers sway, and they resemble waves on the sea. Haomen River flows through the flowers, and it is like a silver ribbon waving on the golden background.
Another good place to enjoy the rapeseed flower fields is Xianmi National Forest Park, the largest forest region in Qinghai, which covers Dongchuan, Xianmi and Zhugu towns in Menyuan. Travelers can enjoy both the rapeseed flowers and the beautiful scenery created by the forest, gorge and snow-capped mountains. The colorful scenery resembles an oil painting.
In addition to the photographers, the rapeseed flowers attract bees. Menyuan is the largest base in Qinghai for producing rape, rapeseed oil, honey and related products. The annual output of rape is more than 30,000 tons. The oil yield of the rapeseed is more than 40 percent. There is a common saying that "the rapeseed oil flows everywhere in Menyuan." The output of the rape-flower honey reaches more than 1,500 tons per year.
Menyuan is home to people from several ethnic groups, including the Hui, Han, Tu, Mongolian, Tibetan and Salar. Nearly 40 percent of the locals are people of the Hui ethnic group. Banquet Song is the most popular traditional folk music of the Hui people. Hui people in Menyuan call the wedding ceremony a "banquet." The songs performed during wedding ceremonies are collectively called Banquet Song. The Banquet Song has a history of nearly 1,000 years. It evolved from sanqu (a type of verse popular during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties [1271-1911], with tonal patterns modeled on tunes drawn from folk music). It also absorbed the elements of the ancient songs in the Western Regions (a Han Dynasty term for the area west of Yumenguan, including what is now Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and parts of Central Asia) and the folk songs of the ethnic groups in the northwestern region of China during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. There are more than 80 kinds of songs performed in the wedding ceremonies in the county. Banquet Song has been added to the list of China's Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Travelers can take a bus from Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, to Menyuan. Most travelers choose to get off the bus at Qingshizui Town. Then, they can take a private car or bicycle to the viewing platforms. Travelers can only take a private car to Xianmi National Forest Park.
Admission to Qingshizui Viewing Platform is 30 yuan (US $4). Admission to Xianmi forest park is free.
Travelers can stay in family inns in Qingshizui.
Photos by VCG, Quanjing and Photomall
(Source: Women of China English Monthly July 2017 Issue)
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