When I was deciding what I could write for the title ‘The Craziest Things I Have Done In China’, three stories sprang to mind. While writing them however, it became very clear that I have these stories due to a series of bad decisions that turned out better than could be expected. I have tried to cut them down to the important parts so hope you enjoy!
Once crazy thing I did since being in China was spending the day with my taxi driver. As weird as it sounds, it actually turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had in this country.
I was determined to climb Mount. Hengshan in the Hunan district so had planned a trip up there for two days to accomplish this challenge. Everything seemed fine until I arrived and realised that the whole province would soon be going into lockdown due to the COVID 19 breakout. My Didi driver had suggested that I head to the temple as they would be closing it soon and that the mountain had already closed so would be unable to attempt it that day. It was at the temple I met his wife who showed me around the temple and helped me to partake in the customs.
After the temple, my Didi driver (Mr Yang), offered me dinner at his house and B&B as he was not sure what was still open in the area. I accepted and we drove about 20 minutes from the temple before arriving at his place. It was here that I met Mr Yang son and daughter, 7 and 13 respectively, and traded stories. Soon after, Mr Yang’s, brother and his family came and more stories were transferred. Mrs Yang then brought the food which is arguably some of the best dishes I have had so far and enjoyed a nice meal with a family I had met that day.
After dinner we enjoyed some local tea and his son bested me at Chinese Chess in which I am still unsure of the rules. Instead of staying in the area, I decided it best to make my way home and ended a very strange but interesting day.
Looking back, this was a very bad decision that could have turned out very bad so do not suggest trying it. However, that day was crazy because I was never sure of what would happen next and actually turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had in China.
As you might have guessed from the previous story, I am an avid hiker and look to find the best hiking spots in the area. This search led me and my colleague to a place called Yingde located in the Qingyuan province. I had seen pictures of a beautiful cave and long flowing rivers that I could not get over and so hatched a plan to visit. I found an address on TripAdvisor.com and booked a train fairly quickly.
If you have used TripAdvisor in China however, then you may know what I learnt that day. Addresses on this site are not 100% accurate when travelling here, so, ended up 300km away from the aim of our trip. The decision was made that since it took 3 hours to get here, we might as well look around and head back later that evening. I was disappointed, I had so looked forward to taking in some natural sights and so as we walked around, I was frantically checking online to see if anything similar was nearby. That’s when I found a small resort situated on the far side of mountain on the edge of a lake. We had to go!
As we arrived, the resort looked beautiful and not many people were walking around making it perfect to explore. Here we found a large cave system, glass bridge and various tea shops.
This experience seemed crazy to me because like the last story, a trip that could have only ended up with disappointment turned into finding a secret adventure that we wouldn’t have visited if it wasn’t for my poor planning.
Finally, the last craziest experience I have, and if you have read this far then I’m sure you can guess what I was doing. That’s right, hiking! In Shenzhen, Guangdong there is a large mountain named Wutong. I had been wanting to hike this mountain for a while as I had visited Shenzhen multiple times and admired the size of the mountain countless times.
I arrived and set out immediately, music on, maps open. After around 45 minutes of following the paths, I saw an intentional gap in the fence which led to a dirt track through the trees. This was real hiking and became curious as to what this track led to. It’s safe to say I bit off more than I could chew as the track, in places, would go near vertical and I would have to scamper up the hillside but, with any mountain, the views as I ascended were unmatched. It was about half way up and 2 hours of walking that I came across a campsite high in the mountain with clothes and items scattered around. There was no one there so thought nothing of the sight and assumed that maybe some friends had come up this way and spent the night. I powered through and continued my journey until I reached the top of the mountain. I looked out across the expanse and admired the view.
After a few photos I looked to see where I could go next but was horrified to see that the mountain, I had spent 4 hours climbing was a baby compared to the monstrous one that this mountain was connected to. It was already beginning to get dark so decided to head back the way I came. I again walked through the campsite and it dawned on me that I hadn’t actually seen anyone else on my journey and began to wonder who would be staying at the site. Even through my descent, I didn’t come across a single other soul and I speculated that the trail I had taken was not a trail at all and merely a way for the inhabitants of the campsite to reach it.
This hike was more interesting than anything else as I was able to see the mountain in a way not many people have seen and in hindsight will probably just stick to the paths next time.