Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tunxi, Anhui Province

Tunxi is the base for Huangshan Mountain, one of China's large mountains which is supposed to be one of the most amazing to climb. We were based in Tunxi for about 4 nights in total (what a luxury to be in one place that long!) and were pleasantly surprised by the awesome hostel we stayed in, with its ultra modern fittings and general coolness! I tell you, cool hostel culture has hit China in a big way. Tunxi is a really nice medium sized place, where you ride around in pedi-cabs and is lovely and warm. Amongst lots of modern fashionable shops it has a few oldy worldly lanes and things which were nice to peruse.

The next day we got the bus to Qingyun Shan, a smaller Taoist mountain a bus ride away. Our guide book is about 3 years old, which can be dangerous in a country which is changing as quickly as China is, and a pedicab driver paid that price today! On our map it said the bus station was around the corner from our hostel, but after walking around for about 20 minutes to no avail we asked a pedicab for directions. We thought he said he would take us there for 2 yuan (about 20p or something!) so we jumped in. 5 minutes later I was thinking, hmm..... 15 minutes later we were like, what the fck! It turned out a brand spanking new bus station had been built on the edge of town, and our pedicab driver had actually said 20 yuan. Which to be fair he most definitely earned as it must have taken us a good 40 minutes to get there and he was a sweaty wreck by the end. Amusing!

So we headed on the bus to Qingyun Shan and made the couple hour climb in what must have been the most humid weather I have ever experienced! Much to my embarrassment, and bad choice of grey clothing, I was literally drenched in sweat by the top! The walk up was nice though, relatively peaceful amidst trees and forest with glimpses of the river below and blue mountains in the distance. The cable car to the bottom was a nice lazy option too ha!

Nearby to Tunxi are a couple of old villages which are a bit of a tourist attraction so we decided to take the lazy option for once and go on a tour supplied by the hostel. I am (as is Adam) usually a bit anti this kind of thing as it can be a bit wearing having to wander around in a group, but we lucked out on this one as it was much cheaper than doing it on your own. The villages were white washed and quaint, and as the tour group was made up of Chinese we were told when to be back at the bus and otherwise let loose to go around on our own...

It was nice to wander and surprisingly easy to lose the crowds. Pleasant to see older villages which seemed authentic lived in at the same time. We ate lunch with the tour, and were given a massive spread of food which surprisingly people hardly touched- except us ha ha!

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