A Travellerspoint blog

October 2010

Another Wonderful Adventure at Wuyishan

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

With another four days off to play where else would one go but majestic Wuyishan! Thank you sunshine and two days of school sports!

It has a total area of one thousand square kilometers, 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 rich in cultural interest and has a huge historical legacy that includes the three thousand year old 'Minyue Culture and Kingdom', 'boat coffins' that are over three thousand years old which can be found in the areas rocky crevices' along with Taoist and Confucius Temples and a Nunnery or three.

For tea drinkers and for those of you like me who find Oolong Tea to be a major favourite, then you will be happy to know that Wuyi Rock Tea is supposedly where the origins of Oolong tea can be found. This was my fourth adventure to Wuyishan over a four year period and it still seems that this entire area which is found in Fujian's Provinces far North West (and an hour and a half from where I live) is still majorly overlooked by foreign visitors as the only foreigners I have ever seen there are the ones I take with me.

As I had been to Wuyi several times prior I decided to take Ross on some of my favourite big walks that would allow him to see the parks beauty from several unknown walks.

We started the day early and grabbed two local motor bike taxis and hoped that we would be dropped off at what is known as the Water Curtain Cave. Strangely though even with a Chinese map we were dropped off in the wrong place and after I got my bearings I found that we were actually halfway through the walk I had planned for the day. As it was at an out of the way car park there was no way to correct the mistake so in the end we slowly walked all the way to the water curtain cave and finally got to begin our adventure.

If you wish to head to Wuyishan and spend a day or two walking and I urge you do so if you find yourself in north west Fujian, head to the 'Water Curtain Cave' track and across the road you will find a small set of stairs, take these and simply follow the trail. You begin the journey at a small stone bridge and then follow the `Zhangtang Brooklet´ that runs beneath huge cliff faces on both sides. The vegetation is so lush and green and the water is crystal clear and easily some of the cleanest water I have seen in China.

Our first stop was the Huiyuan Temple which was first built during the Song Dynasty and then rebuilt in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty´s.

After we left the temple we continued through the valley following what is known as the `Huiyuan Temple Fragrance Brooklet´. We were soon passing beneath the majestic Eagles Beak Peak and as we left it behind the huge Jade Pillar Peak stood before us. We continued on towards what is known as `Big Red Robe´ or `Dahongpao’ which is a beautiful Tea House that was built to protect the six tea trees that are now World Heritage listed and from my understanding they are the six original tea trees that then spawned the millions that can now be found all over Wuyishan. Here we joined the tour groups who come from all over China, Japan and South Korea simply to see these six famous trees. The tea house is set beneath huge cliffs and amongst a small tiered tea plantation and the six tea trees can be found growing in a small garden half way up the cliff face out of reach of the silly tourists who jump fences and ignore the several signs saying KEEP OUT in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and English.

We were soon walking the `Culture Tourist Route of Wuyi Tea´ and there is a reason why so many tourists are brought here, because it is beautiful!

For those like us who wish to continue walking well into the afternoon you will actually need to exit the park through the Dahongpao Tea Trees Ticket Office. For those who hate climbing a hill of stairs, then you´ll really hate the beginning of this part of your day but what is found at the top is easily enough to make me climb more than worthwhile. I made Ross close his eyes at the top until he rounded the corner as sitting beneath a huge cliff face in the distance can be found an extremely picturesque old temple.

Ross just like Luo Wei and Canadian Rob, who just like Aussie Martin and Georgia before them stood in silence for a few seconds before letting out a huge WOW when his mind finally took in the sight that was before him. After climbing a huge amount of stairs, sweating and breathing heavy you simply see this and you can’t help but forget how tired you are.

I have named this the 'Hidden Valley Temple’.

We then made our way down to the temple and were invited to sit in silence and share tea with the monk who resides at the temple. When I visited the temple with Luo Wei she and the Monks family tried their best to communicate but as they couldn´t speak Mandarin and she couldn´t understand their local dialect I have no information on the history of the temple and I still can’t any information on it on the internet.

Anyhow, after our temple visit we headed across the valley to the little shrine and here I was going to take Ross on the third part of the journey but as we had watched several tea farmers head in the opposite direction we deiced to follow them instead and see where we ended up. Walking in this area really shows you that everywhere in China every little piece of usable space is used.

This part of the walk is 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.

Whilst following the farmers we wound our way along tracks that took us deep into the tea plantations and as we changed direction several times I lost my internal compass and after a few hour’s walk we ended up in a part of the park that was in the complete opposite direction than where I thought we were. Whist walking I spotted a small pagoda in the distance and when we arrived at the door and found that it housed a small well I had the feeling that I had been there before yet I couldn’t understand why.

Mainly because I thought we were a few hours the other way! Surrounding the pagoda was a tea plantation and the old stone well had been modernised.

Electric pumps were now used to flow the water to its destination and it looked so strange seeing a stone well electrical boxes and switches on the wall behind it. We then continued along the track and soon after we came across the Heavenly Tour Peak sign which is when I finally figured out where.

To Ross’s surprise in my confusion I yelled ‘you’ve got to be farking joking’. As we still had many hours before sunset we decided to do the following days walk!

Once we reached the peak the tops of the huge crags were beneath us with the river snaking its way between them. The bamboo rafts that we were going to leave for another visit looked like ice-cream sticks with ants on them and we decided that we would become those ants the following day. All around us were the breathtaking sights of some crags tops being covered with trees and others left completely bare.

Trees or no trees, all were an awesome sight.

After catching our breath and visiting the temple and once again made our way up hill and soon passed beneath the Wuyi Arch where I remembered my thoughts when I first saw this huge stone arch `what kind of a person would make someone else carry such huge stonework up a bloody mountain!´

We then slowly began to wind our way down to Peach Blossom Valley where set beneath another huge cliff face can be found the Kai Yuan Taoist Temple and across the temples green grassy grounds can be found a huge statue carved from stone. The statue is almost identical to the one I visited on Qing Yuan Shan (mountain) in Quanzhou.

A statue of the legendary Song Dynasty Taoism founder, Laozi.

We then followed Squirrel Brooklet and made our way down to the Seventh Twist in the river. After making our way back along the river we made our way past the beautiful Shizhao Pavilion and the Clouds Lair on the rivers six twist. We then zig zagged our way through Zig Zag Caves and by the time we reached the entrance/exit everyone had gone home.

Thankfully not long after we began walking a taxi stopped beside us and we finally got to rest our weary legs. After a few hours rest Ross finally got to enjoy a steaming bowl of delicious Lanzhou Beef Noodles. Lanzhou Noodles are my most favourite noodles in all of China and are handmade before your very eyes by the owner of the Muslim restaurant where they can only be found. When I lived in Shaowu last time we actually had a small Muslim Noodles Eatery that we always ended up in after a big night at the bar but sadly the family that ran it has moved back to the western deserts of Xinjiang Province leaving us without Lanzhou Beef Noodlesless.

Thankfully I remembered there was an eatery at Wuyishan. Thankfully also that it still remains!

The following day we decided to meet around midday and after haggling with a taxi driver we sped to Wharf No: 3 and after paying our one hundred Yuan each we joined a happy family on a bamboo raft and were soon found floating slowly down the river through Wuyi Canyon which is a fourteen kilometer stretch of the river. This stretch of water belongs to Tongmu Brook which is one of the sources of Nine Bends River that meanders between rocks and gorges.

Whilst we drifted we passed through lush green surroundings set beneath huge rocky crags and the family’s son tried his best to practice his English with us and at thirteen he did a good job at interpreting between us and everyone else on the raft.

All god things must come to an end and after saying goodbye to our young friend and his family we spent the rest of the afternoon in the main tourist part of the park and like yesterday we were lucky enough to get by without having to purchase any type of ticket. I remembered a track that winds its way beside the river and beneath what is known as Great King Peak. Halfway through the walk is a stunning ancient style home that is situated beneath the peak and surrounding the home is a beautiful bonsai garden. After being awed by the bonsai garden we continued along the track and soon found ourselves at the Zhizhi Nunnery. I have no details at all on this place except that it is quiet and extremely beautiful.

For it being a Nunnery we found a complete lack of Nuns. There were None Nuns and just like last time I visited I found myself wondering; when a Nun goes to sleep does she say Nunneigh?

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by The Underground Lovers The album was ‘a huge MP3 mix’ ____________________________________________________________

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

The Beast On My Double Twentieth Birthday

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Well it had to happen one day. Wish it had of chosen a different week though. Sadly though we can’t swap or change the date we were born.

I'm now the big Double Twenty and as birthdays go it kind of wasn’t what I imagined turning Double Twenty would be like. I imagined having a wonderful day in class with my students (many of whom actually had cards waiting for me) singing the 'You Look Like a Monkey and You Smell Like One Too’ song whilst dancing and having a great time.

Sadly it didn’t happen that way.

The night prior I went to bed earlyish with a headache and upon waking on ‘You Smell Like a Monkey Day’ I felt like Austin Powers was continually running over my head with a steam roller whilst Mini Me was poking my eyes and ears with a hot poker. After ringing in sick I crept beneath my blankets where I felt safe surrounded by darkness and silence. As I do each time I wake with a migraine I slept another seven hours until the school rang me to remind me that there was a ‘You Smell Like a Monkey’ dinner for me at five.

Thankfully things inside were beginning to fade. Light and sound though still the enemy, were not the powerful beast I had woken to.

I met everyone at the school gate and we then began walking to the restaurant which of course on this occasion was at the other end of town. Walking amongst any form of traffic let alone five o’clock traffic in China is not the best thing to do even if you have a normal headache. The chaos created by the one trillion things all ringing their bells and beeping their horns at each other as they fight and push their way here and there to and fro is simply not what I needed.

Twenty minutes later I finally sat and hoped the world would to slow down.

As it didn’t bother to even try I began my battle with the beast by grabbing the closest cold beer I could find and a few minutes later grabbed a second. If the world wasn’t going to stop spinning then I guess the best thing to do on your Double Twentieth is to do your best to catch up. Once I began to enter its orbit things became much clearer and the room full of people all yelling at each other in conversation, even though sitting beside each other didn’t seem to bother me anymore.

From then on I found the night and began clicking my heels along side.

The food was delicious and my friends had ordered a perfect selection for an occasion such as a Double Twentieth. The cold beer continued to flow and as promised kept me in orbit as the world continued to slowly spin around me and the constant dull ‘Thud Thud Thudding’ of the beast was kept muffled in an iron cage. The cake came and soon after half of it had found its way onto the happy faces of those all around me which thankfully included me as it was after all, my Double Twentieth.

After we had cleaned ourselves we left the School Crew and the Leeds Lads and I headed to KTV with some friends of Ting Tings.

Post Double Twentieth…. When I woke I felt the same as that Eddakath guy did waking on the morning of his Double Twentieth but I had a feeling that this time it was Mini Me behind the steering wall of the steam roller and that it was Dr Evil who was poking my eyes and ears with a hot poker.

So I took that Eddakath guys advice and crept beneath my blankets. Here I felt safe surrounded by darkness and silence. I then slept the entire day and early evening away.

<u>Now For a Bit on My Beast</u>

Migraine is a chronic condition with recurrent attacks that are associated with headaches and are described as an intense, throbbing or pounding pain that involves one or both temples. The pain can also be found in the forehead, around the eye or at the back of the head. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, facial pallor, cold hands and feet and sensitivity to light and sound commonly accompany migraine headaches. As a result of this sensitivity to light and sound, migraine sufferers usually prefer to lie in a quiet, dark room during an attack.

A typical attack lasts between four and seventy two hours.

An estimated forty to sixty percent of migraine attacks are preceded by premonitory (warning) symptoms lasting hours to days. The symptoms may include sleepiness, irritability, fatigue, depression or euphoria along with cravings for sweet or salty foods. Patients and their family members usually know that when they observe these warning symptoms that a migraine attack is beginning and for approximately twenty four hours after an attack, the sufferer will usually feel drained of energy and may experience a normal headache along with sensitivity to light and sound.

Unfortunately, some sufferers may have recurrences of the migraine during this period.

<u>Vertebrobasilar Migraines</u>

Characterized by dysfunction of the brainstem which is the lower part of the brain that is responsible for automatic activities like consciousness and balance. The symptoms of vertebrobasilar migraines include: fainting, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, vertigo (dizziness in which the environment seems to be spinning) and double vision.

<u>How is a Migraine Headache Diagnosed?</u>

Migraine headaches are usually diagnosed when the symptoms described previously are present. Migraine generally begins in childhood to early adulthood and while migraines can first occur in an individual beyond the age of fifty, advancing age makes other types of headaches more likely. A family history usually is present, suggesting a genetic predisposition in migraine sufferers.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Aqualung The album was &#8216;Still Life’ ____________________________________________________________

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

Chinese National Day Holiday Fun and Adventures

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

With seven days off to buzz about here and there it was pretty hard to put any type of plan under the category of A, B or even C when you have a girlfriend in another province but have no passport (VISA) with which to purchase air tickets that will allow you to grab a nice hotel and spend her only three days holiday together.

In the end I received my passport back with my annual Residency Visa the afternoon before both Jiang Ni and I were to begin our holidays.

After checking out buses to Shenzhen city and found that I had missed that afternoons and the next didn’t leave until the following afternoon and with nearly twenty hours travel time which didn’t include finding my way to where ever she lived in Shenzhen the Super City then realistically, we would not have seen each other until the late afternoon or evening of her last days holiday.

After that it would be 7am rise and 10pm return for her.

With passport in hand I quickly began looking at Plan C and after watching the population of my city swell to almost bursting point I decided (like I do most years on China’s 'Golden Weeks’) that it would simply be more relaxing and enjoyable put Plan B into action and to make reality a young Spanish/Chinese girls dream of seeing the village in which she was found. Around this to then pass my days riding out in the fields and mountains watching the rice harvests going on around me and to spend my evenings with friends after which to slowly work through another season of The X-Files.

So came and went my seven days holiday for China’s National Day.

Not much of a blog but I really did have a blast Peddle Temple Hopping with Ting Ting, visiting a new mountain top temple with Jasmine and Jessica and sharing late night beers with Ajin (the local tattoo artist, thus known as Tattoo Man for the past nearing four years).

To read about one of the most amazing days of my life please click and read the following - When Found in a Box She Wore a Small Face

<u>Now For My Version of Chinese National Day</u> <u>(</u>Yes I’ve used it before but I like it!)

Commemorates the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Let’s go back before 1949, the Long March had finished, the Japanese had invaded and by this time Mao Zedong was established as the leader of the Chinese Communist movement.

The man who would soon become Chairman Mao one day thought, &#8216;HHHmmm, I wouldn’t mind being Chairman for awhile!’ So the big feller stood up on the 1st of October 1949 and said &#8216;Hey Man I’ve got an idea, let’s become the People’s Republic of China and I’ll be Chairman!’

So began the Communist Movement and the beginnings of the Peoples Republic of China.

All the other big guys fled the country taking along its wealth leaving Mao Zedong to become Chairman Mao and massive change soon swept the country. They began land reform by giving back the land to the peasants, women were finally recognised, inflation was grabbed by the butt and the big &#8216;Five Year Plan’ was introduced.

All seemed pretty good for most during those first five or so years.

People were put into Work Units, the country was divided into twenty one provinces, five Autonomous Regions and two municipalities being Beijing and Shanghai, there was more than enough food and everyone was in a big warm happy snuggle.

Once the Great Leap Forward kicked in China was not heard of for a long time. Within its walls strange things were happening.

Big people became small, famous people disappeared, special universities were opened, society was changed, people were sent to agricultural communes, blast furnaces were created, people were too busy melting spoons and woks to tend to the crops, famine hit, many people died and Mao said good bye to his job as the head of state.

Of course he was still Chairman of the Communist Party. Then came the writings of Chairman Mao bound together in the &#8216;Little Red Book’.

In kicked The Cultural Revolution, thoughts were thrown around and implemented, posters put up, families were split, romance really sucked, the Red Guards began their destruction, smart people disappeared and special things and places such as art and temples were torched and destroyed.

Basically anything &#8216;old’ was not allowed eg: old customs, old thinking and old culture and due to the introduction of clothing codes in came the famous Chairman Mao suit!

After the big guy died in 76 Deng Xiaoping returned and soon thoughts of modernisation were thrown around. They were tossed here and there and finally the &#8216;Four Modernisations’ program was released. The new big guy had thought of things like agriculture, industry, science and defense and said &#8216;hey, we are nearing five thousand years old as a people but where we are globally? The one child policy was enforced to slow down population growth, farmers were given permission to sell surpluses on the market, political reform grew, religions were tolerated and Hong Kong was given back to China.

Soon Shane entered China, left China, went home for a spell and thought to himself, &#8216;Hey Man, I think it’s time to get me one of those Chairman Mao suites, I’m heading back to China for awhile.

In his wake schools have flourished and new brewery’s opened. Beers N Noodles toya…..shane

PS: No I'm not going bald, when I got my last haircut the lady was so nervous about cutting a foreigners hair that she forgot to put the No: 2 extension onto the clippers. Afterwards I did my best to hide my Argh, Shock at being an Egghead.

But hey, I am Teacher Egg so what can I expect! Hahahaha! ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Asteroid B612 The album was &#8216;Teen Sublimation Riffs’ ____________________________________________________________

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

When Found in a Box She Wore a Small Face

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Did she cry a lot? Did she sleep well? What was her first word? What was her favorite toy? When did she learn to walk? Was she as stubborn then as she is now?

Sadly her Chinese foster family are the keepers of the memories of her first sixteen months.

Nie Huai Hou, a villager of Shan Guan Village of Li Fang County (Fujian/Jiangxi Province) found a cardboard box at the village gateway around 7:00 a.m. on 24 November 2005. Inside he was surprised to find a baby girl with a piece of paper indicating that the girl was born at 6:05 a.m. on 22 October of the traditional Chinese calendar. The villager took her to the police station immediately and after searching sadly the police could not find the parents. The baby was sent to the county’s welfare institution/orphanage located in Guangze City and the following day was placed with a foster family.

Loss, how many of us actually know and have felt its depths? Trust, how many of us really have been treated in such a way that trust no longer has a meaning?

Surely being so young when she lived through such trauma she does not consciously remember her first three early 'goodbyes’ in her life. It is without doubt that a heart and soul no matter how young will be left with traumatic imprints. Many adults fall into a deep depression after a single heartbreak and many carry it around like baggage for the rest of their lives but brave little Jia Hong has overcome three of them and is still able to embrace life fully though sometimes small splinters pierce the skin as to this day she systematically turns her back on strangers when they greet her.

Is this her survival instinct warning her to &#8216;beware Jia Hong! They may be here to take you away to another strange place where you will be alone!

In 2007 the stars found little Jia Hong trying to find her way through the thorns and weeds that had for some ungodly reason been allowed to cover her life’s pathway and after a further five months living back at the orphanage a Star Angel from Spain named Lorena who’s love was shinning the brightest was rewarded the task of filling Jia Hongs emptiness with total love and affection which then allows for trust and an open heart. As each day passed she maintained the little girls pathway and through unconditional love and affection Jia Hongs thorns and weeds slowly died to be replaced by a life filled with rainbows, dreams and colours when compared to the life she may have been forced to lead.

In 2007 she moved to Spain where she was welcomed by not only Lorena but also a young girl who even though is her cousin has become the light of her life and best friend as she too was found in Ethiopia and was adopted by Lorena’s sister so both have formed an unquestionable attachment and bond.

One must wonder how her little heart has been able to trust, love and accept love after having to suffer through three emotional breaches so early in her life, when she was so small and vulnerable

So how do I fit into this picture?

Whilst looking for information on Jia Hongs birthplace Lorena I found my blog (April 2009) and after communicating for a time we became friends enough for her to trust me with my offer to help. From my blog most people will know Ting Ting and some may remember Mary being in it once or twice. Luckily for us all they both come from small villages in the Guangze area. We set the wheels in motion and they rolled around for a time some and finally answers began to filter through. Mary’s father knew someone that knew the actual man who found the baby girl who wore a small face with little hair in a small box.

Sadly though he has passed away and any information he could have given passed with him.

One month ago I returned to Fujian Province with a promise I yet had yet to fulfill, that of finding the actual village where she was found. So today Tuesday, 5th October 2010 Ting Ting, Ajin (Tattoo Man) and I rose early and caught several very slow and dusty chicken buses and along with a cab and we finally made it to the village around twelve thirty.

I’ll be honest with you, a single yet silent tear did escape and as the village gate came into view it slowly made its way down my check. Shan Guan villages gate way helps mark the borders of Jiangxi and Fujian Provinces. When I got out of the taxi I was in Fujian Province yet when I walked through the gate I entered Jiangxi Province. Being so rural the village is very poor and along with its one tiny store has only around twenty houses with another ten or so close by.

Its population is made up of around fifty families and around two hundred people. And as you can see in the photos its main crop is that of rice.

My blog draws an increasing number of people each month and last month grew to over four thousand which is three thousand nine hundred and ninety more than it was originally meant for. Over the years I have made handfuls of &#8216;blogging’ friends, offered pages of information, answered a billion emails and questions, calmed a lot of nerves and fears along with helping many people find their way into and around China but nothing really has come close to what I have been lucky enough to have offered Jia Hong and Lorena find this day.

As each blog is completed and offered one small Chinese/Spanish girl sits with her mother and even though she can’t read the words. As she sits with a heart full of longing her mother does her best to explain to her the photos that are found at the bottom of each page. It has become her window to her origins and motherland and at the end of each entry (especially the bike rides and travel entries) I always find myself hoping that they help clear Jia Hongs window of the mists of the unknown.

But this entry I hope brings a beautiful flower to her window ceil. Beers N Noodles toya…..shane

PS: the top three and the first sixteen photos below the text are of Jia Hongs life in Spain with her mother Lorena who I would like to thank for her trust and words that allowed me to 'eddakath' this entry in to life. We have just Facebooked and she in return offers a heart felt thanks to both Mary and Ting Ting for putting it all into place and of course Ajin and I for going along for the ride.

Life, it really is the most wonderful adventure! _______________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Mark Field. The album was &#8216;Tranquility Simply’ Mark is a peaceful busker I met many years ago on the streets of Melbourne. _______________________________________________________________

Shan Guan Village for Guo Jia Hong

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