I know its a week late, I’m sorry.
So last weekend there was a CET-arranged trip to a small village (which I forgot the name of) and the city of Hangzhou. Now, for those of you who know me well, I don’t hike. Like ever. The closest I ever got to camping was when I would visit my grandparents in North Carolina and we would set up a tent on the porch for a night. I am definitely not an outdoors-y type person. However, I don’t know the next time I’m going to be able to say “Yeah, I hiked a mountain in China and it was pretty freaking awesome.” So I got up at the crack of dawn (like before the crack of the crack of the crack of dawn) to get up to go climb this here mountain. Jeremy, our director, said that it was supposed to take around 3 1/2 to 4 hours to get there. Well, since we all got up at some ungodly hour, we passed out before we left Donghua’s campus. When I awoke to the bus not moving, I assumed we were at some form of rest stop or maybe even at our destination. Boy, was I wrong.
We were currently experiencing our first traffic jam. In the states, we’ve all been in traffic jams. They’re noisy, irritating, but usually don’t last that long. Yeah, not in China. Let me set the scene: The fog was so bad that the highways were being shut down. Well, for the badrillions of people ALREADY ON THE HIGHWAY this proved to be a problem. So what did we do? Got out of the bus because by this time we had been stuck inside for about 3 hours. We were going a little stir crazy. And needed a bathroom. So everybody was out of their cars, just hanging out, smoking, chatting, like this happens everyday. After a bit of searching, someone finally found a spot where the girls could pee. Well, just as the first girl in line was about to go, traffic started moving. So we dashed back to the bus (without being hit, surprisingly) and continued on our journey. But because of the fog, we were only able to move about 3km every hour. By about 11am the fog had lifted somewhat and the roadways became normal.
The next part of the journey that I remember was waking up to a gorgeous blue skies and mountains surrounding the little two line highway. Now I’ve been to North Carolina and seen part of the Appalachian Mountains, driven up and down the PCH in California along cliffs, and hiked in the Vermont mountains. Nothing compared to this. It was beautiful. We finally started driving through a small city, which was a good sign that we were close to our destination. 45 minutes later, and a harrowing drive in a HUGE bus on teeny tiny roads, we arrived at Farmer Chen’s house.
If I were ever to live in the country, I would have Farmer Chen’s house. His backyard is a mountain. With his own personal trail to the top. And a small bridge going over a brook. Yes. Lunch with Farmer Chen was insanely delicious. But I haven’t had a dish I haven’t liked. We ate as much as we all could, and started on this hike. Now, at first we walked up a road, so I thought it wouldn’t be that bad. And then we started it started to get steeper. And steeper. And steeper. The hike pretty much went from a nicely cleared but steep road to a foot wide “trail” on the side of a mountain. It was an experience for sure. But once in a while, we could get a clear view of the scenery up in the mountains, and that was what made us keep going.
When we finally got to the top we were covered in mud and sweat. But the view. We all stood amazed at the beauty of the scenery around us. Some decided to continue on up to another peak, while some of us stayed where we were. A couple friends and I took a walk down to a dam. Saying this place was beautiful is such an understatement. The air was the cleanest and purest, and the silence was truly silent. I know that sounds weird, but there is hardly a moment during the day when there is truly no noise. It was perfection.
But unfortunately, we had to go back down. If I thought getting UP the mountain was hard enough, getting DOWN was even worse. Instead of taking the paths we came up on, we took a road for some part, and then made our own short cuts back down. It was scary because it was getting dark. By the time we reached Farmer Chen’s house again, it was pitch black dark out. And since we were in the middle of nowhere, we could see the stars. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed seeing the stars at night until I saw them again.
Part Two: Hiking Adventures and Hangzhou coming soon!