As you know (or should know!) I’ve been living in Hefei, which is in the Anhui province located in Eastern China. Personal opinion, there’s not much in this province and it’s not anywhere you’d definitely would want to go, or even know about going, but then there’s Huangshan.
Huangshan is seriously something out of the movies. Literally. Apparently there are scenes in the movie, Avatar that is based or looks similar to Huangshan. I’ve never seen the movie so I can’t speak on it…just going mentioning what I’ve heard. We hiked - by hike, I mean walked up many, many steps – up the mountain and the whole time I would look over at the scenery and kept thinking how this is real. I was sure I was walking in front of a green screen the whole time.
Days leading up to the trip, the weather forecast was looking unfavorable so I was a bit skeptical on whether or not we would actually be able to go but we went and crossed our fingers that the weather would turn around. Luckily, the odds were in our favor! It stormed on the bus ride to Tunxi but once we got off, we didn’t see a drop of rain the rest of the trip.
We left Hongcun around 6 am and by the time we started our climb, it was just before 8 am. Perfect! We wanted to start early to beat the crowds and the mid-July, hot & humid summer heat. It took us around 2 hours to climb to the top. On the way up, we passed lots of older men carrying tons of things up to the random vendors along the way and the restaurants and hotels situated at the top. I saw a guy carrying a propane tank, another carrying 5 bags of rice among other things, and multiple men carrying cables. Once at the top, we walked around the mountain before descending on the opposite side, which had steeper stairs. I don’t think my calves ever been so sore than they did days after that hike.
Last I posted, I was on my way to Hongcun. A very bumpy ride, but I somehow managed to sleep half of the ride, only to be woken when I was launching out of my seat. When I woke, we were in the countryside - cows, oxes, farms, white buildings that all looked the same. I’m not sure how the last one is “countryside” but that’s what I saw.
Hongcun was great. Once we got there, we got our accommodation set up, which was a small hostel with lots of character ran by a man who, I’m pretty sure was making up prices of each room as he was showing us around. We walked around all of Hongcun, which isn’t very much, before getting an early dinner outside of the village.
Hongcun is what you think of when you think of ancient China minus the old Confucian grandpa smoking from a pipe and writing calligraphic poems. The village is (& I kid you not) a labyrinth of cobblestone pathways outlined by boxy, white, brick walled buildings sitting beneath tilted black rooftops with upward curved corners built, I think I read, in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Needless to say, with my grand sense of direction, I trailed away from the group and got lost. There’s a pond in the middle of the village; an all purpose pond that was used for - from what I saw - the housing of the largest (& ugliest) koi fish I’ve ever seen, washing of the dishes of the restaurants around the pond, washing of clothes, and cleaning a mop used to clean dog urination in aforementioned restaurants. As not to western standards of cleanliness or FDA standards, along with the dehydrating pig legs hanging from the outside of buildings, that just goes to show how small of a village this was.
After a full day of travel and exploring, we were pretty beat. This was perfect since the next day we were planning on getting a very early start the next to to beat the heat and crowds of Huangshan.
Currently, I am sitting at the bus station in Tunxi waiting for our bus to take us to Hongcun. The bus leaves every hour and we got to the bus station just missing the 10:00 bus so we have a little bit of a wait (~45 min by the time we bought our tickets; after having to be redirected to the correct ticket window).
As mentioned in the post right before this, I’m finally on my way to Huangshan! We left Hefei around noon yesterday and had about a 5 hour bus ride to Tunxi (aka. Huangshan City). Once in Tunxi, we got settled into our hostel, recommended by a friend from Hefei, which turned out to be smack dab in the center of the old town and, for a private room, only about 10 USD per person. Still blows my mind at how cheap accommodation can be.
After settling in, found some dinner and headed to an acrobatic show with seven acts interpreting the history of Huizhou. The stories, stunts, and costumes were absolutely phenomenal. Side note: I may have gotten some Halloween costume inspiration last night.
After the show, we walked around the old town a bit and had a relaxing night on the patio of our hostel before calling it a night.
Now, as I’m finishing this post, after getting the seats in the back of a small, bumpy, 24 and fully seated bus, we are officially Hongcun bound.
You can kind of see the bumpiness of the bus in the panoramic I tried taking while we were just out of the bus station. It’s the kind of bumpy that when I try to speak, my voice comes out as if I’m speaking into a fan. It’s more from the quality of the bus than the roads, which are actually paved quite nicely. Makes me regret quenching my thirst by indulging in the rest of my water bottle 30 minutes ago. Well, time to get cozy for the next hour back here!
Location update: Tunxi
I’ve attempted to go to Huangshan twice since arriving in China and both times it has been rained out. Well, I write to you ecstatic at the fact that I am making my way to feel the burning pains of walking straight up a mountain for 3 km.
Huangshan, literally “yellow mountain,” is basically the only attraction the Anhui province has (the province Hefei / I am in). The mountains are known for its scenery, which has been depicted in many Chinese paintings and literature.
I’m in Tunxi right now, also known as Huangshan City, and heading to a small village called Hongcun later today - both of which are near the bottom slope of the mountain.
There are a few American’s in Hefei so when 4th of July rolled around, some of us, along with a few other foreigners, got together to celebrate America’s birthday.
Friday was going to be spent at a park, but unfortunately the weather thought otherwise. Instead, we opted for a cheeky night indoors, playing games such as beer pong, darts, and you know, typical beer games.
Many of the foreigners working in Hefei are teaching English at training schools. As you may recall, I worked at Aston for the first 6 months here and my “weekends” were Mondays and Tuesdays since Saturdays and Sundays are filled with back to back classes. So on the following Monday, another friend had been planning a rooftop BBQ at his apartment. We all still had a hankering for games in the park and the weather was perfect so we ended up starting the day earlier for some kickball,
wiffle ball baseball with a plastic bat and ball (since Wiffle Ball is the actual Manufacturer and we did not have a legitimate Wiffle ball bat and ball, but instead one bought off of the Chinese Amazon), frisbee, beers, food, and good company.
^^^Some of the boys taking turns practicing their swings
I actually had a class that night so I was using ice and scented tissues to clean myself off instead of going home to shower
All of my Filipino friends are wonderful cooks and you can always count on them to bring food for everyone to demolish within minutes. ^^^ Above is a picture of chicken adobo and pancit, or at least the aftermath
It’s nice to know even thousands of miles away, we can still celebrate holidays such as this. Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July as well!
Looks like sorting mail for a billion people still needs some improvement. If you’ve sent me mail and I have not received it yet, this may be the reason.
After Yangshuo, Brandon and I headed to Nanjing where his roommate and childhood friend, Calvin, was selling his beer at the Nanjing Craft Beer Festival. Calvin Beer was a huge hit at the festival with many returning customers. Very early on, I realized that everyone thought I could speak Chinese and became very confused and sometimes a little frustrated when I couldn’t, so I worked the card payments. It was 3 days of music and beer and it was great.
I was able to make a trip down to the south of China to a town named Yangshuo, which is in the Guanxi province. Many of my friends have been before and have spoken very highly of it, so I put it on the top my bucket list.
I can’t even explain how beautiful Yangshuo is. It’s a small, yet lively city surrounded by karst mountain formations. There’s many activities to absorb days. My time there was much too short but we were able to fit in a lot in the few days there.
One day was spent
getting lost biking in the rain with our bikes that costed 15 yuan (~2.5 USD). We attempted to look for a bike trail that we read about on wikitravel. This said bike trail was never found, or at least by us. We did, however, find other possible trails that we explored and led us to beautiful scenery in the countryside of Yangshuo, where we also saw elderly ladies walking their ox and cows roaming around.
Our plan the next day was to go to a town about an hour out of Yangshuo and walk along the river until we got back to the city. We took the bus ride, got to our starting point only to spend more minutes than we’d have hoped looking for the trail head. There was a man who said he would take us up the river on his boat where we could then walk along the river…only for 200 yuan (~30 USD). “No” was a simultaneous response from both Brandon and I. Luckily, Brandon’s Chinese is much better than mine (very little) and he was able to talk to a lady who told us that because of the rain, the river is too high and the trail was non existent at the moment (so the man was going to take us where??) Anyways, we ended up going to another town and walked along a much more developed path, which was not overtaken by the river.
A good thing about Yangshuo is that there is something to satisfy all desires. The word about the beauty has quickly gotten around and the city has been filling up quickly with western influences. You can find cuisines from around the world in the strip of restaurants, clubs, and bars for the night and then conversely, get lost in the countryside of China where you won’t see anyone that speaks any English or any other language besides Chinese.
Yangshuo is a definite must see to anyone who has the opportunity to travel to China. My only wish about this place was that I had more time to have explored it.
I’ve been in awe since I’ve arrived. The scenery is indescribable #Yangshuo #China #Travel #SoLushAndSoCleanClean