Mayday At Hongcun and Mt Huangshan (Yellow Mountain)
30 April – 1 May 2017
Hongcun Village is a UNESCO Heritage World Site, a labyrinth of lanes and alleyways. No cars either. Most lane ways have little waterways running next to them and tiny shop fronts with one door open to the passing visitors. Selling tea food and knick knacks. Most produce their own tea as well and you can see them drying the tea leaves in large wok like steel bowls over burning charcoal. Some offer exotic liqueurs as well. Each vendor has a speciality to sell BBQ duck legs or Chicken, onion cakes, eggs, biscuits or wafers made from sesame paste so fine they are like tissue paper only crisp and crunchy. Our accommodation was an original guest house Shurentang from the C16. Set in around a courtyard with an old mill stone.
Hongcun is a typical Hui style village with a lake and bridges. Most of the original buildings have been renovated and refurbished, giving you an idea of the social structure of the village. A delightful interlude because we had a lot of time to explore all its secrets.
May Day is another holiday and we drove from Hongcun at the crack of dawn to avoid the crowds at Mt Huangshan or Yellow Mountain. We passed through bamboo forests, tea terraces and agricultural fields. The Mountain is an iconic site for all Chinese to visit. This site is reached by a bus then a gondola lift from which you can explore a series of mountainous places. We were up at a 1640mt then others walked up to one of the peaks at 1860mts. Some walks taking up to 7 hours to complete. One trail is 18 kms long and extremely steep, with ropes and chains supporting the tiny planks of wood which form the pathways in some areas. There are two sides to the mountain and two gondola lifts which access the many walking trails. The stone steps are carved into the wall of the stone cliffs and wind upward to many craggy peaks. The sheer cliffs are home to the famous horizontal cushion pines, rhododendrons and azaleas and eagles. As you climb up and down the hundreds of stone steps you can help but marvel at the engineering that has gone into constructing the various access points. Many a Chinese artist has been inspired by the many outstanding viewpoints, all have imaginative names such as Rhinoceros gazing at the Moon, Farewell Pine, The Dolphin, Welcoming Pine, which has the most famous view.
Unfortunately the tranquillity was broken by the tour guides yelling into their megaphones and people smoking as they walked despite numerous signs prohibiting smoking. Even though we arrived on the mountain around 8.00am it was already crowded, having opened from 7.00am
Yellow Mountain or Huangshan is a must see location in China and will take your breath away by its beauty.