By Chen Zhiying
Sanmenhai is a cave in Poxin Village, Paoli Town, Fengshan County, Hechi City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It features a typical karst landform. There are three natural skylights in the cave, and there are passages that visitors can enter by boat. This gives visitors the mysterious feeling that there is a sea in the cave, with gates, and forms the basis for the cave's name sanmenhai, which means“three gate sea”. Sanmenhai is not a sea actually, since the water here is rich in minerals such as calcium ions, making it appear blue and green, thus it is named sea. It is 380 kilometers away from Guilin, and only 40 kilometers away from Bama, the village of
longevity. Here, visitors can visit natural landscapes such as underground rivers, caves, peaks, strange trees and grasses. Although not so well-known as the landscape in Guilin, but scenery here boasts its unique features and worths a visit.
Paradise away from the bustling world
When you go through the dense forest and encounter such blue and green water, you probably have nothing to say but exclamation. The surroundings here are very quiet and tranquil. It is so peaceful that you can hear the murmuring of the water, the chirp of the birds, and even the gentle blow of the wind. Perhaps it is where the magic of nature lies: the more primitive and quiet it is, the more desirable and attractive it is. Here, you can take a manually swaying boat and pass through the three skylights in turn. Passing through the dark cave and encountering all the twists and turns all the way, you will not only have the excitement of exploring the secret land, but also will be amazing when seeing the crystal blue water. Taking a boat into the cave, the incredibly blue river will make you feel like “there is a sea in the mountains and there is a gate separating the sea”. After passing through the dark cave, you will be greeted by another scene, joyful and happy, as if you were in a paradise.
This 40-minute slow boat trip consists of three huge subterranean lake chambers and their interconnecting passages. In some places the water reaches up to 120m in depth, making it a favorite location for international cave divers. Floating across the surface is distinctly less appealing, especially when there is a constant stream of other pontoons carrying Chinese tour guides that chatter away like typewriters. For those on a tight budget, there is a path at the back of the village that leads down to the first cavern. Once you have seen this, the other two are much of a muchness. There is also a path that leads up into the spectacular Jiangzhou karst valley, with its graphically
sexual rock formations, an amazing rock arch bridge, and the longest underground tunnel in the region. The entire valley is around 30km (19 miles) in length, but the villages are well served by minibuses and this is a great opportunity to view this almost pristine area before it becomes a hugely popular attraction.
Tips: Skylights are a new form of karst landform. There are seven parallel skylights in the shape of the Big Dipper in Sanmenhai, while only three of them are passable.
Formation of the Sanmenhai
Skylight is a new form of karst landform, which has high tourism value. There are as many as seven skylights in Sanmenhai. They are bead skylights, which are arranged in parallel into the shape of Big Dipper seven stars, unique and rarely seen in the world’s tourism resources, of which three are passable. Water, cave and sky are integrated into one, which is a wonder and a unique magnificent scene around the world. Among the three skylights, the first one is the largest in the skylight group. It is in a round shape, with a total area of more than 4,900 square meters and a maximum depth of 72 meters, gaining the reputation of the first skylight in the world.
To reach the second skylight, you need to pass through a natural channel up to 100 meters. The entrance is like a huge stone arch, which is spectacular. The morning light slants to the water surface through the hole and then reflects to the top of the hole, forming a glittering and dazzling light in the art gallery. The stone milk, stalagmite, and stone curtain hanging above the cave top seem to be less secular because they grow in the depths of the mountain, being very charming. What’s worth mentioning is a thin stalactite looks like a bronze mirror and emits a green light. It is said to be a peerless jade. Foreign exploration teams who came to explore the cave once offered a sky high price to take it away, but they were refused. Sanmenhai seems to be a favorite little daughter of the mother nature, who gives her all the beautiful things without reservation. The third skylight is the most magical. It is warm in winter and cool in summer. The temperature remains 22 degrees all year round. The rock at the entrance is directly close to the water. It looks like a huge emerald in the sun. If you are lucky, you can see groups of wild monkeys playing there.
Beautiful picturesque Guangxi Hechi Sanmenhai! If you want to avoid the bustling world and live a slow life, come to the Sanmenhai, with fresh air, quiet environment and hospitable villagers.
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