After leaving Beijing for the second time in 5 weeks we were excited to once again retreat to the Chinese countryside. The Journey from Beijing to Moganshan would consist of a series of transport changes. First of all we got an overnight train to Huangzhou East, a city that was once the biggest in the world and a place that Marco Polo adored during his inspirational voyage. We have become quite accustomed to night trains now, after playing the card game ‘shithead’ over 1000 times at least the time passes quite nicely even on an 18 hour train. Once we arrived in Hangzhou we caught a 15 minute bullet train to Deqing, 75km away. As we arrived in Deqing the sun was shining brightly on us. Carrying 16kg on my back I was gasping to get to our hostel but we had a 1 hour coach trip first.
By 2pm we were at our hostel, a place called howoolife. It consisted of different sized shaped wooden buildings, like cabins situated in the valley of giant bamboo forest mountains. It was the closest to comfort I have felt in a long time, our mattresses were noticeably thick which is very unusual in China as they’re usually about 5cm in height.
Getting abit too comfy we decided it would be a good idea to go on a trek to a lagoon. It felt like a heatwave walking through the tropical bamboo forests and along the roads where either sit fields of rapeseed. We did have a bit of a frightening moment where a guy was cutting down bamboo atop a mountain without us realising and it shooted down the slope missing us very narrowly, there were no injuries though. After about an hour and a bit we reached paradise. A turquoise blue lagoon lay in between the bamboo forests. Stained blue by generations of locals washing jeans me and a couple of other girls bravely dived into the sub zero temperature water for a swim. After spending about 10 minutes treading water and trying to catch my breath I exited the crystal clear water to dry off. We spent the rest of our evening drinking, eating and playing cards ready to leave the day next day.
The next morning we got a lift to a nearby mountain to climb. Although I have hiked stepper mountains in more humid weather I really struggled with this one. I don’t know if it was the fact I had a small hangover or if it was because I was just knackered but each step felt like I was walking on nails. The views in the end were well worth it as again China’s countryside continues to wow and fascinate me more than I ever imagined it would. Originally our plan was going to be to hike to Chairman Maos former summer residence but unfortunately the plans had been changed. Instead we visited a snake farm about 30 minutes from Moganshan. This sounds cool right? Wrong. I wish I took some pictures of this ‘farm’ but my phone had died. It was quite literally one of the worst attractions I have ever been to in my life. There were a couple of snakes sprawled on some dirty polystyrene surrounded by broken bricks, rubbish and overfilled bins. It was quite literally a landfill. As I was wandering around thinking to myself what am I doing here I couldn’t decide who to feel more sorry for; the desperately unlucky snakes who have happened to be bred in squalor or the poor woman running the show who clearly missed a few classes in business school on customer satisfaction and expectation. We promptly left for Hangzhou East to get a 1 hour bullet train to Shanghai.
I liked Moganshan but it probably isn’t worth attempting to find or navigate around if you’re trip in China is time limited. Although the it is only 2 hours away from Shanghai it is very remote and public transport is confusing and inconvenient, but nevertheless I’m glad I did it.