– OCTOBER 15, 2015
We have arrived in the beautiful town of Wulong. This place is buzzing during the high season, but as it just so happens we have come here just as the low season has begun. This place is like the start of 28 Days Later, daylight and nobody to be seen in the town. Very little is open in the way of shops, so the pickings are thin when it comes to food. The flip side is we got a nice hotel stay at a dirt cheap price.
Wulong Karst (the beautiful national park just outside of town) is famous partly due to its being the setting of the scenes in “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction” where in China, Optimus Prime first meets the Dinobots and convinces them to aid the Autobots in the final battle. The area has some Transformer sculptures to celebrate Michael Bay’s decision to film part of the movie here.
The Transformers aren’t the only film star they celebrate here, they also have a sculpture of Iron Man from the Iron Man 3 movie. This one is more tricky to explain.
You see, movies sometimes make special versions just for China. The movie Looper for example, changed the location of one set of scenes from France to China in only the version seen in Chinese theatres. Hollywood knows the high number of people in China, so they think that making popcorn movies specific to China will also make them more profitable. This is correct, as film makers make scores of extra cash when they do exactly this (in grants plus the extra ticket sales).
Now Iron Man 3….only in China did they release a version with 4 extra minutes of footage that nobody else saw. The scenes are in China with a famous Chinese actor playing the role of the surgeon who takes the metal fragments out of Tony Stark’s chest. However, you never see Robert Downey Jr in these 4 minutes of footage. These 4 minutes were shot by a different director and then slotted into the movie in two spots. The extra footage has the doctor calling Jarvis (who speaks in Chinese, no subtitles) to speak about the upcoming surgery, then another Chinese doctor walks down a hallway and says two lines. Basically, the extra footage makes absolutely no sense and the fans in China had a frosty reaction to it as it seemed too forced (like someone switched the channel in the middle of the movie). The doctor actually says to Jarvis, “Do not worry, China will help Iron Man“.
Yeah, like anyone comes to China for better medical care…especially someone like Tony Stark. But hey, Marvel made a boat load of cash from the Chinese government for adding this footage (and not including the original director to actually weave it together). The footage was apparently shot in Wulong, so they celebrate it by placing an Iron Man statue here.
The Wulong Karst visitor centre is a pyramid structure that is a jewel in the city centre.
After a 20 minute bus ride, we arrived at the Wulong Karst National Park area of the Three Natural Bridges. A few short steps leads you to an elevator ride to the bottom.
Karst used to be a name of a place in the Istria Peninsular in Slovenia; where the limestone was widely distributed, forming a particular geomorphologic landscape. In 1993, a detailed research on the geological geomorphologic landscape in the area and used the name of the area (Karst) to describe the generic term of the local limestone’s dissolution phenomena in China. Chinese scholars transliterate the word “Karst” as “Kasiter“. Later the word “Kasiter” became the generic terms in Chinese geological circles. This word has been since changed in Chinese literature, but both are considered proper alternate words and thus we have the Wulong Karst.
The formation process of the Natural Bridges under the karst system is closely related to the development evolution of the karst hydrologic system in the local area. Roughly, the formation process of the Natural Three Bridges had gone through the early surface river formation and the underground river formation stage of the Natural Three Bridges.
Tianlong Bridge has the most vivid shape among the Three Natural Bridges. The bridge is 235m high, 150m thick and 147m wide, with the average arch rise of 96m and average span of 34m. The height, thickness, and width of the bridge ranks as third among the natural bridges of the world, only inferior to the other two of the Three Natural Bridges (Qinglong Bridge and Heilong Bridge).
The Tianfu Posthouse was originally built in the 2nd year of Tang Wude and is located in the key post between Zuantianpu and Baiguopu, the posthouse was an important official facility between Fuzhou and Qianzhou in ancient time and was destroyed in the turmoil. The ancient building was rebuilt in 2005. This building complex was seen in the movie “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction” where in China, Optimus Prime first meets the Dinobots and convinces them to aid the Autobots in the final battle.
Qinglong Bridge is 281m high, 168m thick, and 124m wide. It is considered the most magnificent one of the Natural Three Bridges in Wulong. With an average arch height of 103m and an average span of 31m. Qinglong Bridge ranks the first among the natural bridges in the whole world in terms of height and thickness. Covered in a rainbow after raining and the faint haze sprayed by the waterfall, the bridge appears very much like a flying dragon. Qinglong Bridge (Chinese pinyin for the cyan dragon) is therefore named.
The Karst Waterfall belongs to the category of river karst. It refers to the waterfall involving in the karst process directly.
The Heilong Bridge is 223m high, 107m thick, and 193m wide. The average arch rise of 116m and the average span of 28m. It ranks the top among the natural bridges of the world in terms of the width and average arch rise, while it ranks the third in terms of the height and thickness, just inferior to Qinglong Bridge and Tianlong Bridge, the other two of the Three Natural Bridges. The bridge opening is long and narrow, with dim light inside, just like a black dragon hovering above, from which the bridge got its name.
We are staying in Wulong overnight, then we are off to travel on to Xi’an.
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.