May 26, 2022
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(CNN) — Xiechi Lake, often known as Yuncheng Salt Lake in China’s Shanxi province, has turn into widespread on Instagram and different social media web sites lately due to eye-popping aerial images of its colorful floor.

Now, China needs to transform that on-line recognition into real-life tourism.

First step: promote it to Chinese language home vacationers.

Latest tourism campaigns on Chinese language social media websites together with Weibo and WeChat seek advice from Xiechi as “China’s Useless Sea” and tout each its magnificence and its therapeutic properties.

“Because the Chinese language model of Israel’s Useless Sea, floating right here is an unforgettable expertise, and one you possibly can’t discover wherever else,” reads a tourism advert sponsored by the appropriately named Yuncheng Salt Lake (China’s Useless Sea) Tourism Growth Co. LTD.

One accolade stands out as an indication of the lake’s endorsement on the highest ranges: Xiechi Lake was featured in a 2019 Chinese TV special celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the Folks’s Republic of China.

Salt crystals kind on the highest of Xiechi Lake.


How the marvel was shaped

There are three sorts of salt lakes on this planet: carbonate, chloride and sulfate. The Useless Sea and the Nice Salt Lake in Utah are each chloride lakes. Yuncheng, nonetheless, falls into the final group.

“If the sulfate in your water is larger than the calcium, all of the calcium is used up, which leaves you with an extra of sulfate and you’ve got a sulfate lake,” explains Hong Kong Baptist College geography professor Bernie Owen.

Xiechi can be a “closed basin” lake — that means it doesn’t stream out to a river or ocean — which explains how its salt content material stays so excessive.

“Water is available in with salt, water escapes, salt stays behind, extra water is available in with salt, evaporation. Salt stays behind,” Owen explains. “There’s no outlet on this one. It is going to simply step by step turn into saltier and saltier and saltier.”

However what about these attractive colours which have made the lake so widespread with photographers? They should do with the species of animals and crops dwelling within the water.

“when you’ve obtained brine shrimps, you are likely to get crimson colours,” says Owen. “There’s a microscopic animal known as a rotifer, and that may give a purple shade. Purples you (additionally) are likely to get with inexperienced algae. After which greens or oranges (happen) in very saline lakes.”

It’s attainable for salt lakes to freeze over, though not as rapidly as different lakes — in any case, take into consideration what occurs once we unfold salt over icy roads. Saltwater freezes at decrease temperatures than freshwater.

An aerial view of Xiechi Lake

Xue Jun/Alamy

A lake turns into a star

In an effort to spice up Xiechi Lake’s worldwide profile, China is reportedly taking steps to get it listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In a 2019 WeChat put up, Luo Huining, social gathering secretary of Shanxi Province, introduced that native officers had begun the applying course of.

“Yuncheng Salt Lake is the crystallization of Chinese language tradition and civilization. The salt lake has optimistic significance for selling our cultural confidence and heritage,” he stated on the time.

China has closely targeted on UNESCO bids, which might be costly and time-consuming, as a method to confer worldwide legitimacy on its many historic and pure wonders.

Presently, China has 56 such World Heritage websites, inserting it second solely to Italy on the overall checklist. That feat is much more spectacular contemplating that the nation’s first crop of UNESCO designations — which included the Nice Wall and Forbidden Metropolis — solely got here in 1987.

Two extra such recognitions would tie China with Italy for the highest spot on the UNESCO checklist.

There’s some excellent news for wannabe vacationers who hope to go to Xiechi Lake — it isn’t but as widespread or crowded as different vacationer spots in China.

Tiger Li of journey firm Diverse China tells CNN that he has solely organized just a few visits there. Practically all of the guests thus far have been Chinese language home vacationers.

That’s more likely to stay unchanged so long as China stays principally closed to worldwide tourism. The nation closed its borders in early 2020 and stays one of many few locations on this planet nonetheless adhering to a “zero Covid” technique that features very strict quarantine insurance policies.

“In addition to the surroundings, I feel the mud tub and different experiences are the important thing cause they go (to Xiechi Lake),” Li says.

In line with a press release from the Yuncheng metropolis authorities, Xiechi Lake comprises black mud with restorative and therapeutic properties — similar to the Useless Sea.

The doc goes on to assert that folks can float alongside the floor of the water with out sinking — additionally, coincidentally, similar to the Useless Sea.

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