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Trip to Wuyuan
By Keirabb ( blog.travelpod.com )
Tired on the bus from Jiujiang to Wuyuan
Last night we took a train from Xi'an to Jiujiang which took about 17 hours. I'm not sure what is going on, but our train was delayed again. I feel like a broken record saying that. None of us have experienced delays with trains before but it has happened with all of our trains this time around, with the exception of the fast train out of Beijing. Anyway, the trip itself was fine. Today is Ryan's birthday so he celebrated by ordering breakfast on the train :) I have to say I'm really wishing the trains were smoke-free. Even though people go to the end of the car to smoke it still fills the air. But on a more positive note, we all slept the best we ever have on a train. I think the hike up Huashan Mountain and the few hours of sleep we got set us up for success!
Once we got into Jiujiang, we had to immediately go into the ticket hall to buy our final train tickets – Jiujiang to Qingdao. We had been attempting to get these previously in other cities but it just didn't work out due to our time schedule. Unfortunately, these tickets are only a few days shy of Labor Day in China. That means more travelers. We checked several options but ended up with “hard seats” for 17 hours from Jiujiang to Qingdao. That could be considered steerage on a cruise ship. Lori and I saw what that section of the train is like with our “standing tickets” earlier in the trip, but we're being optimistic and know we can make it (fingers crossed).
By the time we got into Wuyuan today it was already 5:00pm. That meant no buses going out to the small villages where we wanted to go. Thankfully, I met a nice young woman on the bus who just happened to know a taxi driver in Wuyuan. This helped us avoid the swarm of taxi drivers that jumped on us with the first step off the bus. It still wasn't cheap getting to the closest small village (Xiao Likeng) by taxi but much cheaper than we would've gotten with the other guys.
We, of course, had to pay an entry fee into the small village (that is how bad tourism has gotten in China...there is an entry fee for everything) and were hit, yet again, by people haggling us to stay at their place. I admit it was hard to handle at that very moment as one particular woman was not listening to what I was saying. I was trying to be polite by saying “we're going to walk a little by ourselves and look around” and kept reiterating the “by ourselves” but she just kept pushing. We finally got past her but it wasn't easy.
As we initially stepped into the main area of the village we saw many tourists and heard the infamous electronic megaphones. It couldn't be! This place was supposed to be free of tourists per the Lonely Planet. But I guess things can change quite a bit in 4 years. We checked out one hostel that had wireless internet available in the rooms!! Not exactly what we were looking for. The gal showing us around was so proud of the newness of the hotel and said they had just had a group of Canadians stay there and they were very happy. I politely thanked her but told her we were looking for something older. I loved her surprise.
After we left that place we turned down an “alley” and came upon a quaint, quiet little hostel that was just our fit. I think there were 3 or 4 rooms and we were the only ones there at the time. We only payed 80 yuan ($12) for a room with three beds and a bathroom with a hot water tank for showers IN our room. Perfect.
|View from our hostel|
After handing over the payment to the humble owner we headed out to meander the cobblestone paths. To our pleasant surprise all of the tourists were gone leaving behind a serene setting. The small shops hung with Chinese lanterns line the village's center attraction – a small river that runs through the center of the village. Many women are down by the river washing clothes and/or vegetables. Children are playing, men and women alike are outside rice bowl in hand eating dinner and many of the older people are sitting on their stools or in home entryways taking in the night air. It's a delightful setting.
We wander for a bit and quickly come to the edge of the village and are immediately greeted by countryside. Rice paddies, tea fields, trees blossomed with bright flowers. Gorgeous! All we can hear are birds and crickets. Ahhh. We then choose a little restaurant tucked behind everything for dinner. Our company consists solely of another Chinese couple quietly dining and the owner/cook. We sit outside with lanterns hanging around us. So peaceful. This is Ryan's birthday dinner so we pick the local fish and some greens to eat.
|Ryan's birthday dinner|
As we sit and wait we are given fresh local tea to drink. Lori hears water splashing and looks over the balcony to the water below and sees the owner grab a huge gold fish out of the water, smacks its head on the concrete and then begins filleting it. A few minutes later we see her go out by the walkway that we came in on and she picks the greens we ordered. Talk about a fresh dinner!
After dinner, Ryan and Lori go for a stroll hand in hand and I take myself to a small, classic tea house perched by the river. I'm sitting here alone writing by the light of lanterns with the sound of the river gently filling the air. The setting alone encourages a calm to come over me. Across from me a woman and her mom, a Chinese grey-haired woman in her 80s, sit drinking tea and enjoying the evening. At this point, I've long forgotten the chaos that first met us upon arriving into Wuyuan. We're all going to sleep great tonight.
|The tea house|