A Travellerspoint blog

June 2007

Mate, it's Summer Break N This Weathers Insane

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya How crazy is the weather now? What has been happening ? And what will happen soon? Last Thursday the Aussies (Martin and Georgia) left the building, yep gone from Shaowu never to return. They headed to Xiamen for a few days (full of rain and storms) and then back to Yangshuo where they will teach for another month or so before pakkin it around China, Nepal and India etc. It was fantastic to get to know them and how cool was it to be able to sit and chat about all things 'Home' as they too are from Melbourne. Joyce, Candy and I had a fantastic last week with them cramming the evenings full of dinners, card nights and the first season of LOST. Hows LOST hey, no one told me how good it was. Now I have to find all the other seasons. Then I'll have to find time to watch them. Man life's tough! A mega huge thanks needs to go to Martin for helping me set up my snazzy new computer with Linux and doing all the techo stuff to allow both Linux and XP to operate happily together using the same files. I tried watching to learn something but he was zipping and zooming in and out of the 'techo promt screens' so fast my head was spinning. We sat until around three in the morning chatting all things Linux and then had to get up for the last days classes. Yep, sadly I am now on holidays again...Wah Wah! The school year has come to an end and when the new year begins on the first of September; My grade 5's will become my grade 6's My grade 4's will become my grade 5's. And Alexa and Georgia's grade 3's will soon become my happy grade 4's. So with over two months off to venture anywhere I please here in China I find myself still torn between choices of what to do and where to go. I am writing this entry to you on my new flashy wizzbang HP/Compaq Note Book which ate a huge amount of my savings, therefore heading way way west to Kashgar will take the rest of what I have. It's a dream and it is what I had originally planned. BUT...another dream is to travel Fujian and put some extra places on the map for foreigners to visit. The problem I face is that no one really knows where I should go and what I should see. Don't get me wrong, I am quite comfortable pointing to a town on a map and heading there but I have usually had some information on what can be found in that area if I was to head there alone. It seems strange to me that the people of Guangxi know so much about their province and could inform me of so much about places they had never even visited yet longed to. Here in Fujian it seems that no one really knows much about their province and has no real advice on where I should go. I've been taking my Fujian map here and there and asking friends if they know of places to go and what is there. I always get the same answers which are the places I visited on my winter break. Tings Tings been a great help but even she hasn't been able to come up with enough for me to stay here for two months. It seems Fujian really is an unknown province with little or no information available on both the internet or orally by those whom live here. Should I spend two months going from place to place, visiting little towns and villages missing out on what that town really has to offer or should I fulfil my dream and head west to Kashgar? Yeah yeah, I hear you...Shane if you could speak Chinese you could ask the villagers yourself when you get there. Yeah yeah I know! Problem is many of them probably don't speak Chinese either Remember under fifty percent of this country don't speak Mandarin. A huge attraction of heading west is not only visiting Kashgar but stopping in at Xian where Terry and Eve (my family's best friends from Australia) are now visiting her family. As I've never finished my blog from seven years ago most wouldn't know that I stayed with a family in Xian and this family was and is my families best friends wife's family.

(Could I have made that sentence sound any more confusing!).

How awesome would that be. Back then Ha Ha (Ping and Bo's son - Ping being Eves sister) was in primary school and now, next term he will begin university. I taught him how to play chess and within several nights he was beating me. He found out his university entrance exam scores and they will easily allow him to attend any of China's top uni's. Smart...very very smart! But thinking of the seven year gap kind of makes me sit and think that the same thing will happen to me and my nieces and nephews. The longer I stay here the more I will miss of their teenage years. HHHHhhhhhmmmm! Anyhow, back to where to travel. Oh how hard is life hey! How can one live with such difficult choices! You see what I have to live with over here! Talking about living mate, try living with this insane weather. The weather here is totally amazing at the moment. Fujian Province has entered Typhoon Season and for me this is a totally new experience. In Guangxi and in Queensland I was used to the humidity and the rain and electrical storms during summer but this beats anything I've lived with. None of this is a weather complaint as I love storms. Its been raining, raining and raining constantly for several months now sometimes stopping for a few days to allow travel and sunshine, so the two beautiful days I had at Wuyi Shan with the Aussies were actually two of the very few sunny days Martin and Georgia had here in Shaowu. I got used to riding in the rain in QLD and Guangxi but this is a little too scary for me to ride sometimes. Several million people in the southern provinces have been left homeless due to the floods wiping out their villages and crops. Hundreds have drowned and many killed due to being hit by lightening. This happens every year as it does every year in other countries that are in the typhoon belt. But my gawd, the storms are awesome! Wake up and it's usually happy and sunny, not long after the thunder begins. Once it begins we are assured of least five to six hours of constant rumbling from above. Then in the late afternoon the lightening begins. This for some reaons makes the thunder gods very angry so soon the thunder gets much louder and sometimes, like about five minutes ago, so loud and sharp that it actually made my ears ring. I actually jumped and was covered with goose bumps for a second or two. So with the thunder and lightening fighting for the most attention, the wind god then looks over the fence and figures that he wants all the attention.

Then.....the wind begins howling. If I'm home when the thunder begins to get louder, if I turn down my music I can sit for about two or so minutes listening to scores of windows being shut all around the area I live....bang...bang...bang...bang...bang. This goes on for a few minutes and then there is silence again. Then it begins, thunder, pouring rain, lightening, lights flickering on and off and the worst of all is the wind.

If I don't shut my little back windows right it actually rips them open and my house becomes like a scene from a horror film.

Windows and doors opening and slamming closed by themselves. I look to the floor expecting to see the cellar door from Evil Dead opening and closing with screams of laughter filling the air. It seems the wind is moving in many directions at once and when it's allowed inside it creates a separate storm in my apartment. I have to run around catching flying paper and stop myself from being tangled and strangled in the curtains that somehow have grown an evil personality. Most times I struggle to shut the back windows and usually end up half soaked within a few seconds. Yesterday was pretty scary. Over the past week I have been spending five to six hours a day riding out in the fields and mountains. I was determined to link all my rides from way out there so I don't have to retrace my steps...um...that can't be right...I'm riding not walking...ok, so I don't have to retrace my peddles! Finally I found all the trails I needed to get me around the mountains. I even found a beautiful valley that I didn't know existed that sits between two of my rides.

There is so much mud that to the amusement of every one I pass on my return journey, I look like a Rice Field Mud Monster on a Rice Field Mud Monster Mountain Bike. That was really dumb wasn't it!

So now I can do a huge square that links my newest ride where I watched the lightening dancing many weeks ago to my village/temple ride and then way way out and around to another ride that myself and Daniel rode part of. Yesterday I spent many hours riding out in the hills and never kept my eye on the time. The skies had been rumbling for several hours and then whilst I was in the middle of nowhere it started. From out of the blue came winds that actually stopped me in mid peddle. My first thought was 'Oh Fark, I'm really buggered now'. Then came the rain and the thunder and lightening. In the fields the farmers simply squatted to wait until the storm passed. What did I do? To the amusement of passing motorists.....whilst struggling to keep my bike standing I washed my bike on the side of the road! It hadn't been washed for weeks and was caked with mud. There was so much rain and the drops were so huge in size that it was like using one hundred hoses. By the time the winds stopped my bike was sparkling clean and I continued on my way. Lightening was dancing all around me, sometimes much too close for my liking as after some of the flashes all I could see was bright spots in front of me. By the time I finally made it home all had stopped and there was an eerie silence. You could actually feel the electric tension in the air. Just as I got into the shower it all started again with the loudest BANG I've ever heard. It's like it's not thunder but a bomb exploding. I then had to run naked around the house forcing doors and windows closed before they were ripped from their hinges. Not long after, it all stopped again. Most of the time the storms are over quickly but other times like the other evening when I was chatting to my friend Kitty from Baise on MSN (who's been in Japan studying Japanese language and culture for nearing a year) I simply turned everything off, unplugged my computer and sat in the lounge room with the lights off listening to it going crazy outside. I heard several windows smash as they were being thrown around by the wind. And if I don't learn to close mine before leaving the house this will happen to my back little wooden windows. So that's what's been happening in life.

As to what will happen over my summer break I guess the next day or two or maybe even a week will tell the story. I'll simply wake up one morning knowing where to go, go by a ticket and go. My small pack has been almost packed and ready for the last few days so all I have to do is choose the right direction that will make both myself and my little amount of money happy. I'm almost certain it will be Xian to see Terry and Eve so now it is just finding a pathway to follow to get me there. I haven't much money and they will leave for Australia on the 27th or 28th of July so I have around three weeks to get there. Tonight I will create a rough pathway there and back that will take me to as many wonderful places my money can buy. Beers N Noodles toya.....shane The soundtrack to this entry was the 'Twin Peaks Soundtrack'. With all the craziness that's going on out side my windows I thought creating a nice calm atmosphere inside would be nice. Just as long as who ever it was that killed Laura Palmer doesn't come flying through my window!

The Last Few Weeks N Bye To The Aussies

The Last Few Weeks N Bye To The Aussies


The Last Few Weeks N Bye To The Aussies (1)

The Last Few Weeks N Bye To The Aussies (1)


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The Last Few Weeks N Bye To The Aussies (6)


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The Last Few Weeks N Bye To The Aussies (8)


The Last Few Weeks N Bye To The Aussies (9)

The Last Few Weeks N Bye To The Aussies (9)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya

Here in China today is another of the million celebrations and festivals that can fill an entire years calendar. .

Today is known as Dragon Boat Festival or Double Fifth Day

The Dragon Boat Festival which is also known as Double Fifth Day falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. From what I can gather there are many different stories as to where and how this festival came to light. But the most popular version and the one officially accepted is about Qu Yuan, a minister during the Warring States Period. (475 - 221 BC).

<u>Legend of the Dragon Boat Festival's Origin</u>

At the end of the Zhou Dynasty (1100 - 221 BC), the country known presently as China had fallen into a state of conflict and despair. The Zhou Dynasty had now ruled for several centuries but many other states were trying their best to rise above being a feudal domain and become their own kingdoms. One of these states known as Qin finally rose above them all and once it became victorious it unified all of China under one rule for the first time in history. Qu Yuan served as minister to the Zhou Emperor.

As he spent his life fighting against the corruption within the courts he was both loved and feared by the other court officials. Upon Qu Yuan's advice to avoid conflict with the Qin Kingdom along with his repeated advice aimed at how to deal with political corruption, these same officials pressured the Zhou Emperor whom soon removed him from the courts service and sent him into exile.

During his time in exile, which lasted for many years he traveled far and wide. He taught and wrote poetry and here is how he became Qu Yuan the legend! In 278 BC the capital of Chu was lost to the state of Qin. Upon hearing this Qu Yuan wrote the following poem and in a state of despair he threw himself into the Milou River.

His last poem reads:

Many a heavy sigh I have in my despair, Grieving that I was born in such an unlucky time. I yoked a team of jade dragons to a phoenix chariot, And waited for the wind to come, to sour up on my journey

Qu Yuan was adored by the common peoples whom then rushed to the river and on long boats they beat drums to scare the fish away. They then began throwing Zong Zi into the river to feed both Qu Yuan and the fish to stop them eating his body.

For many years after this, local peoples would row their boats down their local river and throw sections of bamboo filled with rice into the water as an offering to Qu Yuan. Now the traditional food known as Zing Zi is thrown into the water as an offering to him.

<u>The Modern Dragon Boat Festival</u>

Supposedly from that time until the present, people have continued to celebrate Qu Yuan's death by way of the Dragon Boat Festival where they have Dragon Boat Races, eat Zong Zi and do many other fun filled activities.

The Dragon Boats bring huge crowds to the river sides where they sit to watch brightly coloured boats race each other down the river. The boats themselves can be anywhere from forty to one hundred feet in length. Their front is shaped like a dragons open mouth and the rear is shaped as a dragon's tail. An unbelievable eighty rowers can power them as they race other Dragon Boats to grab the flag at the end of a water course. Along with the rowers there is also the flag catcher and a drummer. Prior to entering the race the Dragon Boats must be brought to life by way of a sacred ceremony when the Dragon Boat receives its eyes

<u>Zong Zi (pyramid-shaped dumplings) </u> Some say that there is another part to the legend. Some say that someone met Qu Yuan's spirit on the same river bank. Qu Yuan supposedly told this person that all the food offered to him had been eaten by a dragon. Qu Yuan then told him that dragons fear bamboo leaves and 'five-coloured' thread. Therefore people began making the traditional food known as Zong Zi.

Zong Zi is glutinous/sticky rice with a small filling of pork, beef or something sweet. It is shaped into a pyramid and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. It was traditionally held together with 'five-coloured' thread but now many people use normal thread of strips of dried bamboo leaves.

<u>Talisman and Charms</u>

As the Dragon Boat Festival is held at the beginning of summer, people also wear talismans to fend of evil spirits whom supposedly bring diseases. People also place a picture of Zhong Kui at the door of their home as he is the guardian against evil spirits.

Adults can drink Xiong Huang Wine and children can carry silk pouches filled with fragrance to ward off evil spirits. Some also believe that if you can balance a raw egg on its end at exactly mid day, the rest of the year you will be very lucky!

What ever mate, I'm just hoping to watch the coloured Dragon Boats and one day get through the billions of Zong Zi that now fills my fridge. Unlike Moon Cakes I actually love Zong Zi. Some foreigners say they are too bland but many like me really like their taste. How sticky are they? If a plane wing falls off in mid flight and if someone had Zong Zi onboard you could pretty much stick the wing back on and it would stay until something more appropriate could be used.

The soundtrack to this festive entry was by the awesome SOD! The album that my poor neighbours had to live through was 'Live at Budokan'

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi


Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi (1)

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi (1)


Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi (2)

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi (2)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Fujian's Wuyi Shan - My Second Days Adventures

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day Toya

After an awesome sleep we all met up around eight. After checking out we left our packs at the front desk and then headed out in search of something to each. We found a noodle bar and after forgetting to tell them 'no or just a little chilli' we each received a noodle soup that looked like it had been offered from the very depths of hell. Admittedly it was a very tasty dish but the taste only lasts a short time before your mouth and lips turn completely numb!

Georgia didn't make it though hers and got some bread rolls instead. I made it through mine but didn't join Martin as he dug into Georgia's leftovers.

The days beginning had been planned yesterday so with numb lips we headed in search of fruit for the day. As we were walking a girl approached us and informed us that she was a student who on weekends and holidays offers her knowledge and time to tourists. So for, I think twenty Yuan (could have been thirty) she would spend the day with you and take you to all the interesting spots.

This allows her to practice her English along with helping her pay for her uni fees. We decided that we really didn't need a tour guide and I grabbed her number for my next visit. We then grabbed a cab to the day's first stop.

Happily we had beaten all the tour buses and the area was still in silence. Only a few tourists were spotted here and there as we made our way down the road. Even though it was on the Big Boy Ticket we never actually found a ticket booth. Maybe it opened later as all the tour groups began to arrive. After finding the beginning of the track we began our short walk to what we thought was a cave. In the end we found that as it sounds, it is the falling water that creates the actual 'cave'. I thought it would be a huge waterfall, especially after all the rain we have been having but it was actually a small amount of water that as it fell created a thin see through blanket of misty spray.

Half way up the cliff you will find 'The Hall of the Three Sages'.

Built in 1147 during the Song Dynasty, it was originally a Memorial Hall for Master Pingshan paying homage to Liu Zihui who was the Master of Qi State. Later it was used also to pay homage to Zhu Xi and Liu Fu (who they are I have no idea!) and this is how it gets its name 'The Hall of the Three Sages!

We had decided to spend the day walking back through the park towards the Nine Twist Stream where we were yesterday. So we were really in for a huge day walking. What we weren't ready for was the extreme beauty this park had to offer us. Yesterdays walk was awesome but what was to follow this day was much more beautiful than we expected!

If you continue past the 'Hall of the Three Sages' you will find a set of stairs that takes you down the other side of the mountain. You don't have to take these but it beats going back the way you came. Both options bring you back to the small road you left not long before. If you wish to spend your day walking and I urge you to, walk back to the beginning of the 'Water Curtain Cave' track and across the road you will find a track taking your downwards. We didn't even notice its existence and it was only after we explained on the map that we wanted to walk through the park that someone pointed it out to us.

This track begins your day of extreme beauty!

You begin the journey at a small stone bridge and you are then taken along side a small stream known as 'Zhangtang Brooklet' that runs beneath huge cliff faces on both sides. The vegetation is so lush and green and the water is crystal clear. Easily the cleanest water I have seen in China. Our first stop was the Huiyuan Temple. This temple was first built during the Song Dynasty and then rebuilt in the late Ming, early Qing Dynasty's. The following was taken from the board outside:

It belongs to local-style house and typical religion architecture of 'Three Religions into One' with Confusian -style entrance hall, and its main temple shows Confusian atmosphere and the Classics Pavilion with Taoist taste. Chucius stayed here for one night and wrote these words 'Be quiet my god' on the horizontal inscribed board which is well preserved now. On the pillars there are two lines of Chucius poem, 'Guests don't hate to take tea for wine while regard bamboo as a neighbourhood'

Get the picture? No. I don't blame you, just look at the photos then! No matter how confusing the board is it really was a small yet peaceful and beautiful temple.

From the temple we continued through the valley following what was now called the 'Huiyuan Temple Fragrance Brooklet'. We were soon also passing beneath the majestic Eagles Beak Peak. As Eagles Beak Peak was lost to our past the huge Jade Pillar Peak stood before us. Here the brooklet changes its name and is simply called 'Fragrance Floating Stream'.

Why is it called this? This was taken from a board on the tracks side;

Formed by controlling the structure of north-eastward broken. Straight walls are on both sides with green vine dropping and cymbidium growing well. The name was given by its clear water deep in the stream and good smelling thought the mountains.

Get the picture? No. I don't blame you, but it did smell great throughout the walk!

Not long after we passed 'Flying Peak', (yes everything here has a name!) we came across a stone with 'Bamboo Nest' engraved into it with an arrow. I decided that I should go check it out and found neither bamboo nor a nest. What I did find as I reached the end of the little valley and looked back the way I had come was a beautiful tea plantation set beneath huge cliffs.

This walk really was so beautiful and it's so hard to put it into words.

After sitting with our feet in the clear and freezing water we continued on towards what is known as 'Big Red Robe' or 'Dahongpao (da = big, hong = red and pao = I have no freaking idea, I guess robe). What it actually is, is a beautiful Tea House. But to get there we had a HUGE climb that took us up the side of a mountain and then back down the other side. Once we found the tea house we sat for some Green Tea Eggs and a cool cup of two Yuan green tea. It was bloody good too for two Yuan. The tea house is set beneath huge cliffs and amongst a small tiered tea plantation. It was peaceful and out the back it had China's cleanest and sweetest smelling public toilets.

Usually in a National Park or anywhere that is set in a natural area you would rather use the bush than the toilets. Not so here mate, I would have happily paid to have used them!

Once we left the tea house and continued our walk we came to a set of 'cross paths' and decided that the path taking us to the 'Sweet Lasting Pavilion' was the one for us. It wasn't on our map but neither was 90% of what we had found. It really was the worst map I had ever used. Even German Uli's 'Mud Map' beat this one. If you want to know about that you'll have to read about my adventure to the Xishuangbanna Region last winter.

Soon we could hear mega-phones and a large amount of yellow and orange peak hated tourists began walking past us. We were now walking the 'Culture Tourist Route of Wuyi Tea' and there is a reason why so many tourists are brought here, because it is bloody beautiful! The entrance fee for this (if you took a taxi to the gateway that is) is covered by your Big Boy Ticket. The cliffs and the more than perfect tea plantation that ran beside the track, it was just so.....perfect.

For those like us whom wish to continue walking well into the afternoon you will actually need to exit the park through the Dahongpao Tea Trees Ticket Office. At first we took the little track on the right just before the exit. It took us up a heap of stairs but then we went back down to a little pagoda just off the 'more than perfect' tourist walk. Ok, once out into the car park walk to the end of the car park and in the rear right hand corner you will find a track leading up the hill. The stone sign has been knocked over but even if it was still standing, unless you know the sign for 'horse' then it wouldn't matter. For some reason Martin, who has a photographic memory knew the character for horse and add that to the fact that we were trying to find the track that led us to Horse Head Rock, then that means we had found our track!

For those who hate climbing like well over thirty minutes of hill stairs, then you'll really hate the beginning of this part of your day. BUT...what I found at the top would be enough to make me climb the same stairs three times over. Once at the top I sat to wait for The Aussies and when I looked across the valley I nearly fell over. Sitting beneath a huge cliff face was an old temple. How unexpected was this find. About ten minutes later when Martin and Georgia arrived at the top they kind of stopped and went quiet for a awhile. It really was am impressive sight, in fact the entire valley was an impressive sight.

We decided against visiting the temple as we were racing a bus schedule to return to Shaowu. A real bugger for us!

Not much further up the track we found a little shrine/temple thingy and here we took the track taking us to the left. The one to the right stopped at the bottom of the hill and wound its way back to the big temple. The left hand trail led us down stairs and into another valley filled with tea trees. Walking in this area really shows you that anywhere in China every little piece of usable space is used.

Like Australia, much of China is not usable and with so many people to feed etc every last inch of farmable space is used. I couldn't believe some of the areas they had a tea plantation growing!

This part of the walk was obviously barely ever walked by anyone other than the happy smiling farmers you walk past whom offer a big smile as they clip and tend to the plantations. It is a lot wilder than both yesterdays and the morning's walks. Here you were away from the tourist crowds and well kept and signed paths. It was an awesome walk and one that reminded me so much of the walks my friends and I used to spend days walking anywhere from the Tweed Coast Area all the way to the Sunshine Coast Area in Queensland.

Especially the back of the Gold Coast where I spent most of my time as I lived there.

Our afternoons walk was, though a lot more spacious than the rest of the weekend was but it was still full of climbs both up and down. The terrain though seemed to have changed heaps. In most places, you could see ahead of you for a long distance without having huge cliffs surrounding you. It really was an awesome part of the park that obviously most people never get to see. The walk took us past Horse Head Rock and then down past the Three Nun Rocks and as we rounded the last cliff we were greeted by the totally unexpected view of Wuyi Shan city.

We slowly made our way along and down the last leg of our journey and surprisingly found ourselves in the park just across the road from the main bridge across the Chongyang River which is actually called the Chongyang Stream but we all know a stream is much smaller than a river and this was no stream. So I guess I had found my way into the park for my next adventure here without the need to purchase Big Boy Ticket. I also wouldn't need to retread my footsteps and follow those from this day as somewhere near the beginning (or this days end) of the track is another track that leads across to Re-Born rock

Will I return to Wuyi Shan in the near future? Crikey Mate you're a flaming Galah! Course I'm gonna!

What will I do on my next journey? I'll head across to the Wuyi Mountain Virgin Forest Park and then after a few hours I'll take a bamboo raft for over two hours down the Nine Twist Stream/River and then head to the site of the Han Dynasty Royal Capital City of Minyue Kingdom. That will be one day. The following I can visit the Wuyi Botanical Gardens and head back to the park and walk the many walks that I still wouldn't have touched.

I'd say it would take many weekends before I would not feel the need to return to Wuyi Shan.

Beers N Noodles toya...shane

_________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by a huge huge HUGE favourite band of mine. The band is Wold Party and the album was the last album I found of theirs called 'Dumbing Up'.

Though I love the album, to me nothing can compare to 'Egyptology' For all you Robby Williams fans, this is where his hit 'She's The One' comes from. Penned, recorded and released by Karl Wallinger's World Party. Then released as a single by Robbie Williams and no one really knew it wasn't his song.

I heard Robbie's version for the first time when I was in South Korea. I had been listening to Egyptology for most of the day. I found a KFC and entered and was standing in line when on comes 'She's The One' As it sounds identical to World Party's version I was singing along and the girl at the counter who could speak English asked me if I was a big Robbie Williams fan. Who's Robbie Williams? I answered. He sings this song she said. No, World Party sings it. I replied. As it wasn't busy I put my version on for her and she then re-played Robbie's version. Identical! It was also an unintentionally great pick up line as we went out for dinner and spent the next few days together. Thanks Robbie! Sad really when a person can have a hit with someone else's song yet when you play them back to back they sound identical. A real bugger for Wold Party, a huge hit for Robbie Williams and a great score for me!

Wuyi Shan Day 2

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Fujian's Wuyi Shan - My First Days Adventures

Hey Hey and a Huge G'Day toya,

Before I begin to rant and rave about my day's adventures I'd like to send a huge happy birthday G'Day to my Big Bro and greatest friend ever along with another greatest friend ever whom share this wonderful day of birth.

Happy Birthday to the both of you.

Oh, I'm so sorry I spent it in this most wonderful part of the world and not back home with you two. Really I am...seriously I am....OK, I'm a little sorry....Really I am....I AM!

I AM, I AM, I AM.....SHUT UP AND EAT YOUR CAKE! HA HA HA HA!

  • *********************************************************** * My first day's adventures using the 'Big Boy' ticket was totally awesome! We walked, we climbed and we also drank a lot of water. Getting out of bed just after six back in Shaowu wasn't that much fun and we then had to wait for a few buses but we finally placed our butts on the bus leaving at eight. I've never driven to Wuyi Shan during the daylight hours and I found the country side to be very beautiful. We arrived, found rooms at the Yun Long Hotel and were out the door and into a taxi by half ten. We caught the cab to the Heavenly Tour Peak entrance and of course just like in most of China's touristy areas the cab driver refused to turn on the meter. They tell you what it will cost. You can go to the next driver and if he wants to beat it then he's yours but there is a set price none of them will go below and that price is surely triple what it would be by meter. That's a real bugger for everyone! At this stage I hadn't really read anything about Wuyi Shan and thought that it was pretty much a big mountain you climb. Wrong! As described in my first entry, Wuyi Shan really is so much more. Surprise to me, it was awesome WHO National Park. At that stage we had no idea about the about the ticketing structure but found out pretty much straight away. For information on tickets and costs see my first entry. We tried to find the free sneaky entrance but gave up and purchased the Big Boy Two Day ticket instead.

Ourfirststop was the Site of The Wuyi Academy. Nice building, a lot of words about people whom had attended but we were actually looking for some sort of gardens but didn't find them and found the Academy instead. We quickly moved on and zig zagged our way through Zig Zag Caves. I thought they were really cool and reminded me of Hanging Rock in Victoria Australia. We never found any missing school children though. Oh well, mystery continues!

Wethen made our way up the smallest stairs I've ever set foot on. They were tiny, wet and moss covered. You could put your toes on them and not much more. At the top we found a big hole in the rock with some stone seats. Known as Happy Gathering Cave I guess maybe it once was a nice place to gather...Not!

After carefully making our way back down the tiny steps we made our way past the beautiful Shizhao Pavilion and the Clouds Lair on the rivers six twist. We found Malan Islet pretty much straight away. A section of the river where hundreds of Chinese gather to wade in the river up to their knees. There were hundreds of colourful tour peak caps everywhere!

Wethen followed the river towards the Seventh Twist and left the river to follow the little trickle known as Squirrel Brooklet. We finally found Peach Blossom Cave which we quickly passed through. More of a long archway really. It seems that any dint in the wall passes for a cave here and will be happily given a name! To be serious I think what it really means is the entire area around it as on another map it is known as Peach Blossom Paradise and goes on to describe the area as this; Peach Blossom Cave is famous for its "landscape is Wuling like." Its entrance is "No Path" with doubt and has another interest on it. Inside is rock around it, mountain springs here and there and reflecting the beauty of bamboo, peach and plum and a quiet place which historic famous persons enjoy living here. Peach Blossoming Taoist Temple too.[/i] [/i] [/i] I have a feeling they are trying their best to tell you that the area is really beautiful, full of bamboo and peach trees and if that's not enough you can go also find a Taoist Temple! If that is what they are trying to say then they would more than be right. It was really beautiful walking around that part of the park and the Kai Yuan or Taoist Temple was a breathtaking sight. Set beneath a huge mountain in a lush green valley it was almost an invitation to move in and live there. Just across the temples green grassy grounds was a huge statue carved out of a huge stone. The statue was almost identical to the one I visited on Qing Yuan Shan (mountain) in Quanzhou. It was a statue of the legendary Song Dynasty Taoism founder, Laozi. Our next destination was to climb the Heavenly Peak but we didn't want to climb the stairs with the hundreds so we decided to take the long way around and end up at the back of the mountain. On the right side of the Laozi statue is a set of stairs, after getting confirmation of where they went from a guy who lived at the temple we began our climb. It was hot, it got hotter and we were beginning to soak our clothes. We finally reached level ground and followed Orange Tree Brook which was a long long way down. We actually thought it was a huge river but when our trail past over a tiny trickle and began to take us parallel to the way we had just come we began to laugh. What was down there was really a small trickle that turned into a tiny river and obviously got bigger.

Wewere soon climbing again and when we reached the Half Hill Pavilion we knew there was still a large climb to follow. How happy were we when we spotted the Wuyi Arch at the top of the mountain. My first thought was actually, 'what kind of a person would make someone else carry such huge stonework up the side of a bloody mountain!' Happily for us there was a tea house at the top and we refilled ourselves on overpriced Mizone. While the others rested I continued on to the Birds Eye View Pavilion and what did I see? Bloody trees mate. The Birds Eye View Pavilion is sadly without view. With my tail between my legs I headed back to the others. We then made our way down the other side of the mountain until we reached Flax Brooklet that runs about three quarters up the mountain creates a beautiful water fall as it leaves the mountain side. This is the water fall thousands admire from the Waterfall Viewing Pavilion halfway down Heavenly Tour Peak.

The others continued on to the Heavenly Peak Taoist Temple and I of course wanted to know what was down the other way. So I headed in the opposite direction and soon come across a beautiful old stone arch way. Through the archway I spotted an old pagoda with a tiny stone statue of Laozi beneath it. Surrounding the pagoda was a tea plantation. When I found the door of the pagoda I actually found an old stone well that had been modernized. Electric pumps were now used to flow the water to its destination. It looked so strange seeing a stone well and on the wall behind it seeing electrical switches. I met the others at the Taoist Temple and when I reached the peak I lost my breath. It was totally awesome!

The tops of the huge crags were beneath us and there was the river snaking its way between them. The bamboo rafts looked like ice-cream sticks with ants on them. Surrounding us was a breathtaking sight. Some of the crags tops were covered with trees and others were completely bare. Trees or no trees, all were an awesome sight and that view went on for as far as the eye could see. It was kind of like being at the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai and having high rises as far as the eye could see in all directions! We decided against joining the hundreds descending the peak by way of the main stairs. I'm sure the views of the waterfall created by the Flax Brooklet as it left the mountain would have been an awesome site. But at the bottom of the stairs was the Malan Islet so we decided to head around the back and down the other side of the mountain. And mate, what an adventure that was!

Wetook the trail that took us past the 'Air Monitoring Station' and this took us down a bare stone mountain side of the 'Immortal Tour Rock'. The stairs were a heap of fun. Once we made it to the little pagoda known as 'Immortals Tour Pavillion' we sat for a rest. The pagoda joined our current peak to the next. It was here that we really begin to decend in a very steep manner. Whoever thought of putting this staircase on the bare side of this crag was a comlete lunitic. That wold probably describe the people who actually use it too I guess! Ha Ha! Slowly, very slowly and very carefully we made our way down the rock and when we finally made it to the river side we breathed a sigh of relief. What a really stupid place to put a staircase!

At the bottom we made a few wrong turns, one of which led us down to the river and to a little stoney beach. Here we surprised many of the Chinese as they floated by on the bamboo rafts. Many 'Hellows' filled the air until we decided to continue. We found the Little Nine Bend Stream trail that led us back to the main bridge that takes you through to the ticket booth. It is here that those wanting a free entry into the park can try to sneak past the Park Guard Booth . Here we haggled with a few taxi drivers who had no problem doubling what we paid that morning. Hey, you've climbed and walked all day and I guess most will pay what they are asked or pay a little lower anyhow. We finally agreed on the same amount as the morning and we cabbed it to the Wuyi Palace.

Notmuch of a palace really. Beautiful buildings of course but pretty much the same as the Wuyi Academy, lots of words about people long gone. We took the left track and followed the river. The first thing we came across was 'The Potted Landscape' and this my friends was stunning. For those who have been to Japan and fell in love with their public gardens, gardens you had to pay to get in...infact any garden in Japan is a beautiful experiece. Always stunning, clean and wonderfully kept. This was pretty much the same deal and an awesome find here in China. Obviously it was NOT a Public Garden! It was a long quiet walk and on both sides of the track was hundreds of Bonsia trees. Man how I love bonsia trees!

Halfway through the walk is a stunning ancient style home that is situated beneath what is known as 'Great King Peak' and man, this really is the king of all the peaks. It was totally awesome to look at and hopefully next time I will get to climb it. We had to pass this time as it was nearing six and this part of the park closes at six and sadly this section of the ticket had been clipped. We'll see what tomorrow would bring but we would have to enter from another section and our plans for the following day were way up the top of the park.

We continued along the track and we soon made it to the Zhizhi Nunery.

Ihave no details at all about this place but it was quiet and extremely beautiful. It didn't look that old and had obviously had a large amount of money spent on it. Some of the wood carvings on the front pillars were awesome. For it being a Nunnery we found a complete lack of Nun. There were None Nuns. I wondered this, when a Nun goes to sleep does she say Nunneigh? From there we continued on to the next sign that read 'Blaa Blaa Water Rock'. I really have no idea what it was supposed to be but we ended up at a tiny beach where some guy was swimming. By now it was time to hot foot it back through the Bonsia Park before it closed locking us in for the night. We caught Bus No: 6 back to our hotel. I think this bus runs from the main street and only goes to Wuyi Palace but I can't be certain. After a shower we went next door and ordered a feast and some cold beers. If we wanted to pay 80 Yuan we could have had Monkey Meat for dinner. There it was in the fridge still with half its scalp on it. Beside the fridge in cages sat a duck and a rabbit. On the table were live turtles and frogs whom bounced around in their netting fighting to free themselves. I can do the frogs and turtles on the table as in Guangxi we used to actually hunt frogs and rats for bbq. I can also eat duck and rabbit but if its in a cage I can't order it if you know what I mean. If its already cut and sitting on a plate waiting to be cooked yeah butI can't look at a live rabbit or duck and know that it would be on my plate very soon. Of course I've had to do it in many villages in Guangxi where they slit its throat without thought right in front of you and leave it twitching until its life slowly fades as its blood flow slows to a stop. But for me that's different. Anyhow, after dinner we walked Wuy's main street that is almost 99% tea shops. How they all make money is beyond me, but when I say it is 99% tea shops, it really is! That was my first day at Wuyi Shan. It was filled with hours of walking, climbing and most of all, extremely awesome sites and scenery! I would put it up there as one of the most beautiful places I've been to in China What I didn't know as I happily fell asleep that night was that tomorrows adventure would be even more beautiful! Beers and Noodles toya....shane The soundtrack to this entry was an absolute brilliant find.many years ago. I had no reason to want to purchase it except for the title. It's a double album and full of old blues and gospel tracks The title of the album is 'African-American Sacred Steel Guitar'

06 - 16 June 2007 - Wuyi Shan Day 1

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Fujian's Wuyi Shan - Prices and Details

HeyHeyana Big G'Day Toya, Wuyi Shan or Wuyi Mountain. A new and very welcomed World Natural and Cultural Heritage Site. It has a total area of 1000 square kilometres and its core being 636 square kilometres. It has a huge amount of unique and natural scenery that includes the nine-twist river, thirty six huge crags and what have been described as one hundred grotesque rocks. It is also an area for global biodiversity conservation. Domestic and foreign biologists have described it as the following; a showcase of world biology, a world of insects, a paradise for birds and a kingdom of snakes! It is rich in cultural interest and has a huge historical legacy that includes the three thousand year old 'culture of the Minyue Kingdom', over three thousand year old 'boat coffins' that can be found in the areas rocky crevices' along with Taoist and Confusus Temples and Nunneries You can also visit the 'Minyue Royal Capital City that is over two thousand years old and view stone engravings on many of the cliffs that were engraved during the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Quing Dynasties. Within these writings are a knowledge passed on that form thoughts that many in the passed, now and in the future have used and still use in their basic thoughts towards life and fellow man. The man was known as Zhuxi and his Neo-Confucianism theory has supposedly enriched a huge influence on civilisation as we know it today. I wouldn't really know but I do know that Confucianism has influenced society to a large degree. ; ; ; For tea drinkers and for those of you like me and find Oolong Tea to be a major favourite, and then you will be happy to know that Wuyi Rock Tea is supposedly where the origins of Oolong tea can be found. It seems that this area found in Fujian's Provinces far North West has been majorly overlooked by foreign visitors who prefer to visit destinations such as Yangshuo, Xiamen, Emei Shan, Shangrila, Xian, Beijing and Shanghai. Don't worry if you have visited China and have visited many of the latter, I too have passed by Fujian and the Wuyi Shan areas in the passed as there really is no information to be found both orally and written on the internet or in guide books. I had a chance to teach here some time ago but passed it by to head north into the great desert region of Gansu Province. After not only this weekend but my last six months I now urge travellers to China to visit this rarely visited province. What I have found so far is a land known mainly to the Chinese but also a land that us foreigners should 'go out of our way' to don the back pack and do our best to explore. Most of it can not be found in any guide books but it seems that no matter where I go I am faced with a beauty I am both not prepared for nor told about. There is no 'Backpackers Trail' like you will find 'Pakkin' from Yangshuo to Kunming, to Dali, to Leijing, to Shangrila, to Chengdu etc but what I have found so far not only matches my favourite place on earth 'the Xishuangbanna Region' but also the beauty of Australia's outer Gold Coast and Tweed Coast Areas along with the great China 'Back Packer Trail' as mentioned above. But you'll not find banana pancakes or freshly brewed coffee here mate! What you will find and pack away happily with is a part of the world that no one you will meet will be able to offer their own 'better' descriptions on. You know the people I'm talking about, those who will always try to better your travels eg; yeah, but I've done the Tiger Leaping Gorge twice and oh gee let's not talk about Xian, I've...blaa blaa blaa. Fujian Province really is an experience that you should add to you itinary. It offers so much more than what most back packers come to China for. Like I said, here there is no 'trail' to follow and you are pretty much left to your own whim. So I guess this kind of helps me make my decision for this summer or at least part of it anyhow. Maybe I will stay here in Fujian and do some adventures and find some sort of 'trail' that I can offer fellow travellers to travel other than the coastal areas of Xiamen etc. TICKETING: Tickets for Wuyi Shan are now sold by days. A one day ticket costs 110 Yuan, a two day cost 120 Yuan and a three day costs 130 Yuan. This is for the 'Big Boy' ticket but I don't think you can enter any of the sites without at least having a one day ticket, meaning that you can't pay for each site itself. The 'Big Boy' ticket will get you into six different sites; 1: Wuyi Palace, 2: Heavenly Tour Peak, 3: Water Curtain Cave, 4: Roaring Tiger Rock 5: A Ray of Sky and 6: Big Red Robe (tea plantation). They clip that sites section of the ticket so you can only enter that site once. A strange way to do things as you've just paid over one hundred Yuan for your ticket and you really should be able to see what you want. They already have your money so why care where you go and how many times you go there? Tickets for the Virgin Forest Park, bamboo rafting and the Minyue Kingdom are all sold separately. But...once you are in the park you really don't need to go to the ticket offices to enter any of the 'Big Boy' sites as they are all inside together. To see them all you really do need three days and that's three days of big walks and climbs! I would say you would really need four or five days to use the Big Boy ticket to its full. Surely you can go see each site, then grab a cab and go to the next but then you miss all the hours and hours of bush walks and climbs between. FREE ENTRY: In Martins guide book it said that if you went to the Heavenly Tour Peak entrance and walk back a bit you will find an entrance between two rocks. His book like mine is many years out of date and we think the ticketing structure has been changed in the past few years as not much of the info matches what we found. Strangely enough, right behind the ticket man now, you will find a pathway that leads between two rocks. I guess there are many entrances you can enter for free, most can be found very far from the main sites, mainly because it's a National Park and you really can't fence off the entire place. If you're quick you maybe able to get through the exit of the Little Nine Bends track which can be found at the end of the bridge before you get to the ticket booth. Problem is, there is a guard booth there but I'm sure he's not always there or asleep most o the day like many guards here in China. We found this at the end of day one so it was too late. The second entrance is right across the main bridge that crosses the river back in the town. Across from the bridge you'll find a green park and on the right hand side of that is a road that leads towards the hills. In about five minutes you leave the houses and find a walking track. This will take you to Reborn Rock or up to Three-Nun Rocks. It's the trail we took Sunday afternoon and it's a BIG and very BEAUTIFUL walk! If you're a 'cabbin it' site seer, it's probably not the way to enter the park but it's the way I'll enter next time. COSTS: Like anywhere in the world, once you are inside, you're pretty much stuck and have to pay what ever price they think is fit enough to rip you off and be able to smile whilst doing it. Outside a bottle of water is usually one or two Yuan. Inside it will cost you five or six Yuan. A Mizone outside is usually between three and four Yuan, inside you'll be paying ten or eleven Yuan. I can't really comment on food costs as I only ate boiled tea eggs and sticky rice cakes. I do know that a three Yuan bowl of two minute noodles costs fifteen Yuan. You know the ones you rip the top off and add hot water and powder stuff. My eggs and sticky rice cakes were not much more than outside so I was happy! ACCOMMODATION: As the National Park is situated about ten kilometres from the main city of Wuyi Shan City it would be best to stay in what is known as the Wuyi Shan Holiday Resort Area. This area is situated directly across the river from the National Park. Of course during peak season it is pricier than staying in the main city but when you add cab fares into the equation then it makes more than enough sense to stay here. Come here in the off season then you will not be paying the high hotel costs as most of the hotels will not allow you to leave their front door before agreeing on a price that you are both happy with. Put it this way, I stayed in a hotel that normally I wouldn't even think about entering when I visit a new city. It was plush and rather beautiful and I only paid 100 Yuan for the night. Not bad for around sixteen Aussie Bux. If you arrive by plane or train you're going to be half way between both so it will be up to you to choose where you go. OK, for my first day's adventure and photos you'll need to go to the next entry as I've decided this entry is long enough and should be used as information only. Beers N Noodles to you....shane The soundtrack to this entry was by a gem of an artist. The man was Roy Orbison and the album 'His Greatest Hits'

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)