Published: June 12th 2006June 1st 2006
I wanted to go to Dinghushan to get away from people for a while. There are an awful lot of people in China. A mind boggling number of people in China. Even in the smaller cities the streets are gauntlets of people shaped obstacles getting in my way. There is more bustle in Chinese cities than if you put a giant t-bone steak smothered in honey on top of a nest of starving ants just before a rain storm. For a small town girl like me it is a bit daunting.
I read that Dinghushan was a beautiful little village nestled among tranquil mountains, a veritable paradise for people wanting to escape the city. So I set off in search of paradise, hoping to spend a relaxing week or so strolling around picturesque mountains.
Getting to Dinghushan involved catching my first Chinese bus. It was great! Much more fun than any amusement park I have ever been on and probably the highlight of my Dinghushan excursion. It was a little bumpy bus that rattled like two kilos of marbles in a washing machine. The driver was hilarious. He would yell abuse at people as they got on the bus and hoon off with all the doors open as soon as the passenger had one foot in the door. He was steering the bus with his feet as he ate lychees and spat the seeds out the window. I have never seen anyone steer so well with thier feet! Swerving in and out of motorcycles, on and off the pavement, overtaking other busses on the wrong side of the road and speeding through red lights with his horn blazing. I had a ball.
If only Dinghshan was as fun. It was a massive disappoiontment. I dont know if its just my luck or if this happens all year round, but the place was swarming with about 2000 highschool students learning about plants. I checked into the hotel, which was also a very unrelaxing process. The room cost me 400juan a night, outrageous! And it was small and dirty and the pillow smelt.
So I went to walk around the extensive mountain trails and see the breathtaking scenery. I wasnt quite "forgetting all colours from my memories for the all so many shades of green" like the brochure said I would, but it has completely changed my perspective on grey. In the afternoon it became so hot and humid that all the colour melted out of everything and all that was left was layer after layer drifting off into the horizon. The view from the top was spectacular, and well worth the long sweaty hike. But it wasnt peaceful because of all the tourists and students. But then at about 4 in the afternoon I got the peace and solitude I was looking for. It started to rain.
Bus load after bus load of noisy people hurried away back to the hotel until I was all alone. Stupid me didnt have an umbrella so I ran through the hot and heavy rain until I found a little pagoda just off the main road. The pagoda looked out across a narrow valley with mountains towering high on each side. The rain obscured the mountains so that all I could see was foggy sillouettes, behind which forks of lightning split the sky. As the rain hit the ground it evaporated into little clouds of steam that snaked thier way through the trees as they floated away. So there I sat for two hours, listening to the rain and the thunder, watching the tiny little frogs hopping around my feet, and thinking about nothing but how beautiful the world is.
After two hours the rain stopped, luckily because it was getting dark. Back at the hotel I was starving so I set off in search of food. An hours tired trudging revealed nothing that even remotely resembled a restaurant. Hungry and defeated I had instants noodles for dinner again and resolved to leave first thing in the morning.
So thus concludes my journey into the mountains, next Im heading to Wuzhou. Stay tuned to discover what crazy adventure fate has planned for me in Wuzhou.