Published: April 24th 2011April 4th 2011
Big day ahead of us: Climbing the YELLOW MOUNTAINS. Huangshan translates to “Yellow Mountain,” it was named so after the first emperor of China. The yellow mountains are a huge range of mountains that are extremely rocky and often just rock, bare of any trees. At this time of years, the mts are supposed to be extremely cold. Forecast for today was -4 C, partly cloudy. Since we were going to be on the mts, we knew it would be extra cold. Better safe than sorry: I counted a loud each layer I put on… 6 layers, 2 hoods, 2 pairs of socks and 2 pairs of boxers!!! I was prepared for what was to come. Before taking the hour drive up to the mountain we had to organize the rest of the trip. We dropped off our bags at the Ancient Town for the day… they were so nice to store it for us, and for free! They said they couldn’t book trains for us and we’d have to go to the train station. Now at the train station, they can only book tickets leaving from Huangshan, which leaves at 9:30 PM. The train from Hangzhou to Shenzhen leaves at 12:30 PM. There are no buses to Shenzhen so these are our only options. We went to 2 internet cafes that we were kicked out of for not having China IDs. In China whenever you go on the internet, you need to have a China ID, or even if you buy a computer you need to register it to your name immediately… this way, the govt knows exactly who did what on the internet.
We finally bumped into a hostel, paid 2Y to use their internet, and we looked up airplane ticket prices, which we all more expensive than the soft-sleepers that were available on the train from Huangshan (extra expensive)… All hard-sleepers were taken. To It was too risky to leave to Hangzhou that night and try to get train tickets bc if the train is full, I would miss my exam. We had to settle for the expensive soft-sleeper train tickets from tonight at 9:30 PM.
Late breakfast at a small Chinese family restaurant. Cheap and yummy! The woman serving us was so happy and sweet all the time , saying her expressions like a grandmother constantly (i.e., better to eat it than to waste it). Once again, I was laughed at for asking for soy sauce with my rice. Cheap ride in private car up to mountain organized by her… it was a dodgy car. She explained ot us that we wouldn’t be able to do the intense hike up the western side of the yellow mt, which we originally wanted to do. Now we don’t have enough time because of the stupid train schedule we had to settle with. Dammnnnnn the train schedules and no available buses to go to Shenzhen. Plus we won’t even be able ot go to West Lake! Double dammmnnn.
Our drive up to the mountain was like a ROLLER COASTER; a fast, up-down, swervy one. The driver was nuts… constantly cutting off cars big time like its nothing , honking NON-STOP, going on the incoming car lane to pass the cars in front of him like its nothing….. very common here. Branden, sitting in the front, went to put on his seat belt and the driver told him not to put it on. That’s the 3rd time outside of HK that he was told this by our drivers. (Branden usually sits in the front seat so he can communicate with drivers.)
The views were absolutely stunning: mountains covered by green trees, beautiful rice terraces, and loads of chrystalanthums. It was great to stare out the window. We reached a hotel destination where we wanted to pay for our entry to the mt. We planned to have the student discount of 110Y as opposed to 230Y. Our wallets were legit almost empty after paying for the 500Y train tickets. We chose to do a tour that costs us 180Y / person total. Now we hadlegit no more $$. Our wallets had no more Yuan, all of ours. We would have a guy pick us up, drive us to 3 diff spots on the east side of the mountain where we would hike around, and he would wait for us at the bottom…. Another insane driver, same as the last one.
We could finally see the rocky mountain! We visited our first stop, just a small hike with a nice view. They did not accept our student cards bc they are HK cards and not Chinese! They wanted us to pay full price, an extra 60Yeach. We didn’t have it! We had some HKD, but not enough. Our driver spotted us for now… so nice of him. Our wallets now had NOOO more money in them. I think Darren had 50 centsY!!!
For the first hike they gave us a mandarin-speaking tour huide… useless to us!
Next was emerald valley… beautiful. Much flat rock with water flowing in between. We took our shoes and doubled socks off, and dipped our feet in the water + walked through the flat rocks barefoot. Felt sooo good, until we were kicked out of there. Only afterwards did we see all the signs that said no washing feet and no swimming!! The water was always sooo blue and clear. Unebelievable. So clear it was as if there was no water.
Our driver then told us that we had to do a required stop at a teahouse, where they try to sell us tea. He told us to go there, it would only take 5 mins, and we should show them our empty wallets. We were seated in a medium-sized room with a bunch of other Chinese people and tasted several teas… green tea, jasmine tea, black tea (=red tea), and a very sweet one that I love but didn’t get the name to. The woman telling us about the teas barely translated anything into English and the other Chinese got a constant laugh out of us. Suddenly the lights in the small building all shut off. We took this opportunity to bump out of there!!!!... got right up and left.
Next was 9 Dragons--- has 9 waterfalls. This one turned into a veryyy tough hike up tons and tons of stairs, but we made it. We took our funny pics and then headed back down.
Of course we got ripped off once again for the ride back to Tunxi. A crazy female driver this time, constantly yelling at herself and the other drivers.
Another small Chinese restaurant for dinner, a walk around the small town’s streets. I saw a cookie that was being sold at many shops and seemed somewhat popular so I bought one…. EWWWW it was disgusting and bitter. It was filled with mustard plant… some kind of pickled-tasting cabbage thing. We bought some sugary snacks and some fresh fruits for the train.
We seriously enjoyed the train ride back home in our own private cabin… what a difference from having hard-sleepers. Plus this time we came prepared with food!
Back at HKUST!!!!! Time to get down to work for Accounting.