Three BIG adventures.

Love Ones, having left the bosom of my fam in Shanghai four days ago, I have had THREE BIG ADVENTURES and I’m happy to report all have been SUBLIME!

Toby warned me – I would be traveling into the heart of darkness – no English, no Caucasians.

First stop was UNESCO World Heritage site Mt Huangshan, a one hour flight from Shanghai. There is a famous saying in China, “After Mt Huang, no need to see any other mountain” but little could have prepared me for it’s breathtaking beauty. I am happy to report I only cried ONCE – moved to tears by the ‘Big Valley of the Western Sea”. I spent a glorious day scrambling up and down the endless exquisite trails without a clue where I was heading; managed to happen upon several of the major sights and ended up with ‘widow-maker legs’ – trembling with fatigue. I think it is possibly the most beautiful place I have EVER been.


china-057_640_x_480.jpgchina-074_640_x_480.jpgThe day was “moist” and cloudy but Huang is famous for it’s jagged rocks, thundering waterfalls, twisted pines and MIST!


From Huangshan, I had to make a choice – spend a day visiting the ancient villages of Xidi and Hongcun, or see Mt Jiuhua. I couldn’t do both and Jiuhua came highly recommended by Toby. After my day on Huangshan I was “high’ on mountains so opted for Jiuhuashan. Good call -  (thanks Tobes). I got up at 5am the following morning and caught the rickety local bus to Jiuhuashan, not so much about the mountain (which is glorious) but one of the most important Buddhist centres in the world. After Mao and the cultural revolution destroyed religious sites, there remain on the mountain, 79 well-preserved temples, over 1500  statues of Buddha and thousands of cultural relics such as scriptures and musical instruments. Too high for the assholes to climb I suspect.


The way I am traveling is difficult and stressful. It is hot and dirty and I am relying on my wits to get myself around. I arrived exhausted but as soon as I entered the cultural heritage site earthly aggravations melted away. It was actually pretty! Pretty buildings, pretty people; monks scurrying around in their saffron robes, nuns in their silvery gray, devout pilgrims everywhere and an atmosphere of calm and gentility – quite the opposite of everyday China!


I did not see a single other Caucasian the whole time I was there and when I walked into restaurant the little girlies got in a huddle and twittered and giggled behind their hands – do they see so few foreigners? Do I really look THAT funny?No – I wasn’t wearing my Marco polo robes!    I just laughed along with them.

In place of the usual hideous touristy merchandise the shops sold incense, prayer beads and monk stuff!

 

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The weather had been deteriorating ever since I left Huangshan and half way through the day it was fully raining but not enough to dampen the beauty.



At one stage this was my view.034_640_x_480.jpg


From the calm of Jiuhua I entrusted myself to the gods again, and again they were good to me. Armed with my crazy picture ‘dictionary” I managed to navigate my way to the local bus station and catch the bus to a pit of despair named Hefei where the airport would transport me to my next destination, Guilin. It wasn’t without it’s drama. As we entered HeFei I noticed that the bus stopped to let a few people off. I showed the driver a pic of an airport and he came to a screeching halt and deposited me with a brief wave in a vague direction, on to the side of the highway in the middle of fucking nowhere! No shops- no hotels – just this. I was about to cry again but for vastly different reasons.


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Then I experienced a ‘great circumstance of double happiness’. Not only did an empty cab come along and scoop me up while missing all the semi-trailers bearing down, but it deposited me at the airport just a few cents away which was excellent as I was running perilously short of cash. No worries I thought – there will be an ATM at the airport.


Not so. I must explain. This is a CASH ONLY society – no Visa, and one must be vigilant to keep a handy supply which is challenging as you are only allowed to make ONE withdrawal every 24 hours with a maximum of 2000 kwai – about $400 – which is easy to go through if paying for airfares and hotel rooms……I arrived at my next destination with 10 kwai (20 cents) change from the cabbie! It was a close call and I sweated the entire journey.

Guilin is a picturesque city on the west bank of the Li river, but it was the river I had come to see. Arrived late, left early. May not have made the boat at all if it hadn’t been for my new friend Sefa. If I had made the ‘dash for cash” I would have missed the boat, but she spoke English and overheard me at the front desk and gave me 100 kwai to tide me over until I got to Yangshou. We ended up on the same boat! By now the weather had seriously deteriorated but who cared – it was still spectacular!030_640_x_480-2.jpg032_640_x_480.jpg


The region of the Li River is Karst country and this is what I had come to see.


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We pulled into the charming little tourist town of Yangshou early in the afternoon. It had been a stunning journey but this was not my final destination for the day. My hotel, the Yangshou Mountain Retreat was an undetermined distance from town and I was having trouble finding a cab that would take me. I SCRAMBLED to find a solution and arrived with my usual aplomb and dignity.

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The retreat is just what I need and I am looking forward to unwinding for a day or two doing just what I did today – sitting quietly by the river watching the boats pass by.

051_640_x_480.jpgWooHoo!

2 Responses

  1. Colin Says:

    Hey Tia, Im sure you have heard the news already. Ce la vie. Anyway, it looks like you are having fun, a lot of it. I think its th eonly way to live. Im on my way to Europe, stuck in Changi airport for now, but arrive in the arms of a beautiful girl in Geneva tomorrow. The adventure is great!! Have fun with Dad, he seemed that he needed a little refreshing. You and Mum are just the ladies for the job. Besos y abrazos.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Peg, dear Peg,

    wondering how you are after the big adventures. tell us about Beijing. i thought a lot about you wondering if we have manage to go to the same places.

    how was your accommodation?

    trust all the family are well.

    i talked to Colin about the music possibility. please when you have time, if you could explaing Colin how it works. he is very interested indeed.

    are you losing weight after your adventures? how are the necklaces going? have you done one? if you could please send me a photo.

    being with you was great. Ah! i managed to save about 60% of the photos. i am happy about that. i will send you some when i work on them.

    much love, Consuelo

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