On Sunday 10th May Lisa, Lea, Michael and I were up early to go on a trip to ‘黄山’ Yellow Mountain. It is said to be one of the most notable mountains in China is listed as a World Natural and Cultural Heritage Site. It is known for its sunrises, hot springs, winter snow and amazing views above the clouds.
One ancient Chinese man was quoted: “To enjoy the magnificence of a mountain, you have to look upwards in most cases. To enjoy Mount Huangshan, however, you’ve got to look downward.” So, in short, it was a must see.
We planned to spend two nights in a hostel with a day to spend six hours in a bus to get there, then a whole day on the mountain before returning the morning that followed that. The first slight “bump in the road” was we realised that the small city nearby called ‘屯溪’ Tunxi is also known as ‘黄山市’ Huangshan City. We had booked a hostel in this place rather than in the town of ‘汤口镇’ which is also at the foot of the mountain.. Thus this meant that we were staying 60km (40 miles ish?) from the foot of the mountain. As we had already booked our bus tickets to Huangshan Mountain we debated whether it was worth going back to bus station to change them or whether to change our hostel. However none of us really had the time to go back to the bus station (it was an hour away on the other side of Ningbo) nor was it easy to find hostels in Tangkou for the same cheaper prices. In the end, we stuck with our original plan and aimed to catch the early morning bus to the mountain on Monday..
So the journey started with us waking up early (me at half past five because my body clock seems to be slightly off at the moment) and meeting in the lobby at half past seven to catch the 132 bus to the Ningbo Central Bus Station to catch the coach to Tunxi. The journey was rather easy, the seats were quite big and had more legroom than a plane seat does! I slept for a good two hours before being woken when we arrived at a service station. By three o’clock we were in Tunxi.
I’m still not accustomed to being shouted at by Chinese people offering taxi services every time I arrive in a different destination in China. Nor can I shake off the feeling that every taxi driver wants to charge me for all in worth every time I take one.. Although we declined the many offers of various people, we did indeed end up getting a taxi because the local city buses didn’t seem to be leaving the depot at all. One woman had the cheek to say to Lisa (who is Chinese but family originated from Hong Kong): “As a Chinese person you should help your fellow Chinese out.” I understand that that is a valid point for anyone of any nation however “helping out” is not to rip off foreigners because there is a general stereotype that we’ve got tonnes of money to lose. Moving on, after a five minute taxi ride we arrived at the Koala International Youth Hostel. Lisa and Lea were sharing a room and Michael and I were. And our rooms were so cool! The bathroom was good but the best bit was the beds and the floor. Okay, a floor shouldn’t be the most exciting thing about a room, and it’s not as if I’ve been missing floors… But this was awesome because it was a raised wooden platform which then had both mattresses directly on it. So when you were sat on one of the beds it would feel like you’re sat on the floor. Exciting eh? I can tell you agree 😉
Seeing as we had been travelling most of the day, we headed into the centre of Tunxi in search of the ‘老街’ Ancient Street that is filled of souvenir shops and places to eat. The walk didn’t take us as long as we thought it would and we found the river too! The street was a typical tourist trap but the buildings were well maintained and genuinely old so it was pretty to walk down! One thing you should know about Lisa: she absolutely adores food. 😀 so she tried many of the tasters of the typical food but – thankfully in my opinion – didn’t try the mouldy tofu. We each bought some postcards and before long hunger was setting in.. We decided to go to a restaurant recommended on a website called ‘老街第一楼’ Old Street No. 1 Building for dinner. It was fantastic! The layout was really good. It was very busy when we arrived but a guy gave us a little card with a number on it then told us to go inside and order food. We were a bit confused as we didn’t have a table yet however once we were in it became clear. In a lower level there’s the kitchen on show with counters laid with the dishes, their names and price tags. We spent a good fifteen minutes staring hungrily at the various dishes and filling in an order sheet on a clipboard. Then we found a waiter and were taken to a table. The food didn’t take long and it was so good! We ordered chicken with horse chestnuts, Shanghai famous ‘小笼包’ (juicy pork dumplings), pumpkin dumplings (which were sweet but good), and clams with chives and chillies. We also ordered a tasty looking tofu dish… But it was the opposite. We believe it was the fermented (mouldy) tofu we had seen in the street and it did not taste right.. So Lisa was the only brave one to continue eating it but mixed it with the DELICIOUS clams and chives. After that we headed back to the hostel, feeling well fed and ready to crash into the comfy mattresses that were waiting for us.
We knew it was forecast to rain on Monday so spent a little time planning out trip on the mountain. We had booked the bus from the hostel to the mountain that was due to leave at 5:50am 😆 so we expected to be there and through the gates by 7:30am in order to get the cable car up. (It takes at least four hours to climb if you don’t go via cable car.) From there we would see how far we could walk along the peaks and high pathways on the mountain before starting our six hour descent back to the bus station. The last bus was at five so we were at a push to be able to see enough as well as get there and back safely. However it was exciting, we had bought bright yellow ponchos, and the adventure awaited.
It’s pouring with rain. And I don’t just mean pouring; it’s as if all the spirits in the sky have decided to relentlessly pour huge buckets of rain down just on us. We got on the coach bright and early and hoped the whole way there that it would stop. As we had to wait fifteen minutes for other Chinese people to get on the coach in Tunxi, we didn’t arrive at the bus station until half past seven. Already behind… We got off and ran into a nearby crowded shop full of Chinese people yanking on poncho outfits. All bright yellow. The top half, the trousers and the blue shoe covers. It was quite blinding actually. We just felt quite disheartened. Only the very foot of the mountain was visible. As the entrance to it was still a bus ride away, then the cable car another bus ride away, we were fearing that it would take us an hour to get to the top. As we were going to have to start our descent at only eleven o’clock, this didn’t give us long at the top of the mountain. (It’s huge..)
Therefore, with heavy hearts, we all chose to not go. The fact that we weren’t scrambling and jumping about to get to the next bit excitedly told me that we weren’t utterly willing to risk paying quite a bit of money to see clouds all day. And get soaked. So the bus driver offered to call a minibus to take us back to Tunxi for a cheap price, told us we’d have to wait half an hour, as well as directing us to a restaurant on the first floor of the same building we were in. As Michael and I were hungry, we ordered noodles. Lisa and Lea, however, had more time on their hands and seemed more disappointed to not see the mountain. I pointed out that the weather on Tuesday (ironically) was meant to be beautiful and warm. As they don’t have to rush back due to commitments, it was worth them staying another night and see the mountain. So they went off to check out going to see an ancient village today (Monday) and Michael and I decided that we were to head back to Ningbo. It’s a sad end to the trip but I’m not as down as I probably should be. The past twenty four hours had been really fun! I really loved going about with those three. I’ve never known a person be able to nap so much, Michael can sleep for Britain (English saying)!! Even though he hasn’t had much sleep for the past two weeks due to essays etc.. Man, he can nap. And these buses aren’t exactly smooth.. I, on the other hand, am still trying to train myself to be able to fall asleep anywhere!!
As I’m going to so many different places in only a week and three days, I guess having an extra day in Ningbo is a really nice idea. 🙂
All in all.. I’ll just have to come back to China to see this mountain… What a shame 😉