The mesmerising skyline that dominated Shanghai was a long and distant memory after spending a couple of hours on another bullet train. It is common in many circumstances whilst travelling to occasionally enjoy the journey as much as the destination itself. Regarding China, this is not the case. It is my trivial and frivolous opinion that the majority of train travel in China heightens the already acknowledged fact that mass construction is infecting the once baron and beautiful landscape that makes this country so unique. I will be glad to not take another train in China for a while.
Late at night we arrived via minibus to Fujian. It is uncommon for tourists to stay in this area of China as it is quite remote and complicated to navigate. Fortunately I was able to stay in one of the famous Fujian Tulous, made famous by the Hakka Minoroty. Tu (Earth) Lou (House) are giant roundhouses built as a defence mechanism against enemy tribes. Whole families would live in these huge buildings that are one of a kind in the world. The setting was game of thrones esque. Solemnly walking around the old walls I felt I had stepped back in time to ancient China. It wasn’t until I stepped into my room where a TV was set up that I thought technology even existed here. It would be my upmost recommendation to visit a tulou if one decides to visit South China, they are a UNESCO world Heritage site and very easy on the eye.
The next morning we were woken by the familiar sound of roosters, loud screeches of cockel doodle doos echoing resonantly. We were again transported to a guest house run by the Liu family. The guesthouse was situated in a small courtyard which included a small family temple, a couple of shops, an open restaurant and a stage for locals to dance and celebrate on during religious ceremonies. The lives of the party though we’re the two chocolate baby poodles who ran breathlessly in endless circular motions. We were taken to a different tulou to try some of the local tea for free. A nice gentlemen poured us cup after cup of locally picked ginseng, burdock, flower, oolong tea amongst others. It was a fantastic experience trying all these different flavoured teas (aswell as getting a pretty sweet caffeine kick) but the prices were unpopular amongst our tour as the guy selling them seemed to be taking advantage of the pigment of our skin. In the Yuchang Earth building, which is the oldest in Nanjing County in Xiaban Village we were able to learn about the rich history behind the Yuan Dynasty building. 5 floors high, complete with 270 odd rooms and an observation deck, five clans maintained this building for a long time sustaining the structure of building aswell as defending it from invaders. Mr Liu, one of the guides at the guesthouse (all the men were Mr Liu) took us to the tea plantations. A bumpy ride up winding, steep hills landed us at the footstep of the tea leaves. Acre upon acre of the greenest tea you ever saw was visible from the spectacular view that encompassed the surrounding landscape marvellously. The leaves get picked 4 times a year, it was almost the correct season for them to be picked. Mr Liu proudly showed us his section where some of his fruit and flowers grow, a sweet aroma gushed between each nostril as we meandered around his plants.
After a full day jam packed with local culture, ancient history and contemplation of unimaginable natural beauty we decided to tarnish our day of elegance by intoxicating ourselves. It was no ordinary drunken rampage as we partied in the middle of a small hamlet. We did utilise the stage by bringing speakers which blasted ‘cheese’ songs which promptly attracted the locals attention who joined us for a dance. Byejoe, a incredibly strong an equally as cheap drink made an appearance, which made it a night to remember or in this case, maybe not so much.
Aching in the morning, the sun shined down bright on our sore heads. Now try and picture what you would least like to do on a unforgiving hangover…got it yet? Is it a 20km bike ride in 30 degree heat with 94% humidity? Me too. And guess what? That’s exactly what we did! It’s not as bad as it sounds, after all we were cycling through picturesque villages, along energetic rivers and inbetween creeping mountains and cliff sides. We stopped for some lunch which was needed explicitly and headed back to the hostel.
Unfortunately at this point I had my first and hopefully last episode of heatstroke or sunstroke I’m not so sure. The sun had taken its toll on me and I started to become abit..well delirious. I was convinced I had somehow caught rabies and needed urgent hospitalisation and refused to eat any form of food. I was sick and was sweating a bucket but I did eventually come round to reality. I admitted that I had failed to balm myself with a sufficient amount of sunscreen that day, highlighting the importance of using it when out for extended periods of time. What followed was one of the greatest storms I have ever witnessed. Lighting cracked thunderously from all directions, hail the size of 50p coins belted the ground with inhumane force and I aswell as a couple of others..was shitting myself. It did calm down after around 30 minutes but we did have to drive 1 hour to the nearest train station in Yongqing with no seat belts or street lights so I was quite nervous. We did make it though and we boarded our night train to Guangzhou East Railway Station.