In the shape of an almost perfect circle, the 8-kilometer bend in Majiapan village in Shilou county is one of the most spectacular bends of the Yellow River. (Photo: CHINA DAILY)
When the Yellow River flows out the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, it forms a long, deep gorge that serves as the border of Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces.
In the gorge, the water flows in a roughly north-to-south course. However, when it arrives at Majiapan village in Shilou county, the river forms a huge circled bend of 8 kilometers.
Thanks to online publicity by local photographers and travelers, the bend recently became a major tourist attraction in the county.
Zheng Huimin, a local photographer and an official at the county's bureau of education, was the first to publish impressive photos of the river on the internet.
Zheng, an enthusiast of taking pictures of the local landscape, had been longing to take a panoramic photo of the bend, which he knew from the map should be the largest in the Shanxi-Shaanxi Grand Gorge.
In April 2005, when climbing onto the top of a nearby mountain, Zheng found the best spot to take a picture.
His photos of the bend quickly became a hit on the internet. Photographers and tourists from all over the country now flock to see the largest and most spectacular feature of the Yellow River gorge.
Local tourism authorities have noticed the visitors' enthusiasm at the site. As a result, they invited tourism industry experts to conduct further research into the site and draw up detailed plans for the development and promotion of the attraction.
The Cultural Resources Research Center of the Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences granted a certificate to the attraction in 2007. It recognizes it as "the most impressive bend of the Yellow River" after it received a report from its expert research team.
Ren Zixuan, an official of Shilou county's tourism bureau, described the uniqueness of the bend: "After flowing from the north to south, the Yellow River begins to turn to the east near Majiapan village. It forms an almost perfect 8-km circle with a diameter of 2 km. When the river is about to finish its circular course, it's only 700 meters from where it starts."
To improve access to the viewpoint where Zheng took his pictures, the county built a 3.8-km road to the top of the mountain.
Zheng, a veteran photographer with a tanned face, is still busy exploring new attractions along the river. Sometimes lucky tourists can meet him at the grand bend viewpoint, who is always willing to share his stories.