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Published: November 23rd 2013
At the end of September, after saying goodbye to my parents in Bishkek, I flew back to Beijing to see my precious girlfriend, Becky. It felt so good and warm to get back together. We had been apart since I left Urumuqi in July. Becky was still working when I got to Beijing but she managed to meet me up for lunch several times in the area with all the foreign embassies (where I was applying for an Uzbek and Iranian visa) and we started dating again on rooftops and terraces, enjoying European cuisine, croissants and macaroons! It felt amazing to enjoy life together again. Beijing felt extremely romantic!
We left the capital city a couple of days before October 1st
(the beginning of the National Holiday) and we got to Anhui Province earlier than all the other tourists. Becky wanted to get away from the crowds and relax. As usual, she had been working long hours and she was tired and stressed by her job, and also by the fact that her selfish boyfriend was away from her for months. On the Internet Becky found a quiet place in Anhui Province for us to go hiking in the mountains
and camp. She wanted to try camping (her first time) and I was very excited to finally be able to share my tent!
We were supposed to take the fast train to Shanghai but when we arrived at the train station I realized I had forgotten my passport so I couldn’t board the train! F#@*!!!! We went back home and Becky booked us a flight for Shanghai the same morning… Talk about wasting money…A flight, a night train and a bus ride later, we were in Hui Hang Gu Dao (徽杭古道) in Anhui Province, ready to start hiking. We bought food, snacks and a lot of water and we took off on a narrow path in the village. The local farmers were harvesting rice and plowing the fields before winter. Then we got to the river (there wasn’t much water at all) and we followed it upstream for a day. Except for a few horses carrying bricks and tiles for farmers building a house on top of the mountain, we didn’t run into many people. As my Chinese students often say, “the air was fresh, the water was clear, birds were singing.” A miracle in China! It was extremely
relaxing and the view was beautiful with trees and big rocks all around us. For those of you who have been to China, you know how hard it is to find a quiet place. You might think you found one on top of a mountain, and suddenly a group of young people walk by with music blasting out of their phones… We somehow succeeded in avoiding such groups and made it to the top where we wanted to camp.
When we got on the plateau, there were 2 or 3 guesthouses. We could get a bed inside or pitch the tent right outside the house in a patch of grass that had been cut down for tourists to unfold their tents… I couldn’t help but laugh because I should have known the locals would find a way to try to make money from campers. I had imagined wilderness and forests but we were in an organized camping ground…Not how I had imagined our first night of camping! I wanted to camp in the wild. I wanted to find a hidden place to get away from people and enjoy a peaceful night with my girlfriend. So I asked Becky to
follow me, and I headed for the very top of the mountain. Becky must have thought I was crazy. There was hardly a path. We cut across very tall grass, and she was afraid there’d be snakes. It got very steep and the ground was muddy. It wasn’t an easy climb but when we got to the top, there was absolutely nobody, and we had a clear view over the surrounding mountains. I knew we had found the spot. We put up the tent pretty fast, just in time for a beautiful and soothing sunset. We lied down in the tent surrounded by tall stems of grass. Becky completely got to unwind. Her face relaxed and I think she savored the moment. At night we walked back down to one of the guesthouses for a nice meal. A group of students were partying and singing very loudly… (how Chinese, right?!) We were so glad we weren’t camping around!
The following day it was cold and a bit foggy in the morning when we walked back down to the village. As we were walking down, hundreds of tourists were going up the mountains to camp around the guesthouses. How many
of them would end up going to the very top, finding our hidden spot? Very few I’m sure.
I hope you enjoy the photos.
I’ll never forget this little get away in Anhui. Thanks, Darling, for doing all the research. I know it was time-consuming, but worth it, right?
We then caught a ride to Hangzhou and its famous (and popular) West Lake…
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