Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Love Locks and Hot Springs

You know those majestic mountains found in the world famous movie “Avatar” with the narrow peaks? They say mountains like those found in Huangshan, China are what inspired James Cameron. I didn’t care for the movie too much but I am a nature girl through and through and love to be outdoors. When I found out that Huangshan was only a few hours away by train then it was a no brainer, we had to go!

We were hoping to go before it got too cold but that didn’t happen.
We were hoping we wouldn’t get rained out but that didn’t happen.
We were hoping we would be able to see those majestic mountains as we hiked the tall peeks but that didn’t happen.

When we got to Huangshan Saturday morning (after taking the sleeper train) we found our way to the mountain by taking the required two buses to get there through the cold, foggy, rainy weather. I was eager to hike up the mountain but once I lost feeling in my finger tips and had a permanent red nose we all agreed that it would be best to just take the ten minute lift up the mountain. Yes, ten minutes! We were so high and after such a long lift ride I thought we would be brought directly to the top and be able to see the wonderful views but that just wasn't the case with all the fog. On the way up this is what it looked like and then I realized I wouldn’t be seeing too much.

We plan on going back in the spring some time to hopefully avoid all the fog and cold, wet weather. I still really enjoyed hiking around the mountain even though the conditions were less than enjoyable. I thought the eerie fog in all the trees actually looked really beautiful.

It turns out we actually hiked around the top of the mountain for about four and a half hours in search of a hotel that we didn’t even stay at because they were all overpriced. I was grateful that I wasn’t scaling the side of a rocky mountain and someone was kind enough to construct stairs all over this massive mountain but it was incredibly tiring and our legs and butts were on fire. Whenever I thought about complaining I was reminded by all of the strong Chinese men climbing up the entire side of the mountain while caring goods on their shoulders for shops and hotels. All of their calf muscles were massive! It takes a typical hiker two and a half hours to go up but with these guys carrying a heavy load there’s no telling how long it takes them. I just hope they only have to do it once a day!

After walking around a while we found some ropes and chains with locks attached to them. I call these “love locks” because two people in love attach their lock somewhere on a chain or rope and then they each throw a key over the side of the mountain symbolizing that their love will never end. I’m into gushy stuff like that and it was on my list of things to do while in China ever since Andrew told me about it 3 years ago from the last time he was in China.
We forgot to buy locks beforehand so when we found a stand where there was someone selling them we bought one for 15 RMB ($2.50). I was ecstatic. He even carved our names in it for us! It was a memorable experience and who knows maybe we’ll go back with our kids someday to show them our “love lock”
Our locks are just to the right of that pole on the top rope.

By this point on our adventure we were all wet popsicles and decided to make our way down…once again on the lift. I don’t know how all those people climbed up and down the mountain in such bad weather. The Chinese are strong people. The entire way down it seemed like we were in a cloud because we could see only white outside of the windows.

Unfortunately, the entire day was filled with remarks like, “I bet this is really beautiful on a sunny day” or “Oh! I think I can see part of a mountain!” Despite the conditions it was a great day filled with memorable experiences.

After such a cold, wet Saturday we decided it would be best to enjoy a relaxing Sunday at the Huangshan Hot Springs. Prior to this day riding the bikes around the Xi’an city wall was my absolute favorite thing but I don’t think anything can compare with the beautiful scenery and relaxing hot pools that we enjoyed.

Once again being the nature girl that I am I could not get enough of the colorful trees and the backdrop of the mountains. Look at that view!

All of the hot pools had different themes and being that it is located in China they have little details for each one on what it does to heal different parts of your body. I found them to be a little amusing. I don’t know if it was all truth but I do know that I was enjoying complete bliss. My favorite pool was by far the Jasmine themed one because the aroma was so strong and completely put me at peace. You can’t beat the fact that it purges “body fire” too! Any guesses on what that might be?

Here are a few of the other calming pools and some of the funny signs:
Rose Petal
Green Tea
Anti-aging Lipid Lowering!
Heated bead bath
It seemed like the natural thing to bury Andrew

Strengthens the cardiovascular fexibility just smelled like grapes

Skin Whitening! Hello Michael Jackson!
Coconut Milk

Stimulates the appetite! It works. 
Andrew found the most memorable pool and the one that allowed me to check off  the second item this weekend on my “To Do in China” list. It would be the fish feeding pool. There were hundreds of fish in the pool ready to get a nibble on your feet! It was a big surprise at first and took a lot of time to get used to because it tickled SO much. But once you focused and really tried to relax and enjoy it then it started to feel like a hundred little pricks and pinches. I wanted so badly to enjoy it but it was hard to get part the strange feeling. If you weren’t looking at your feet it was even creepier but it wasn’t that bad. I really want one for my house because it did wonders for our skin. It was so smooth afterwards. Andrew really enjoyed it and even layed his entire body in the pool. I’m going to call him out and he may not like it but his feet were the driest and most crackly I’ve ever seen. But later that night we both realized that the fish ate all of his dead dry skin off and left him with beautifully smooth skin. It was a skin care miracle! I highly recommend letting fish nibble on your skin for a little bit. It really works!

Andrew and I covered in fish.

One of the little babies. Their bites weren't bad it was the 3 inch fat ones that felt really strange.
All of the people at the springs were really nice and hospitable. They offered us free water and snacks like watermelon and cookies. We really didn’t want to leave more or less return to work the next day. A weekend is just not long enough. But alas we had to get back on the train and return to Zhangjiagang to teach. In fact, we barely made it back! We rushed from the train station in Wuxi Monday morning to catch a bus to Zhangjigang and then take a taxi to our school. It dropped us off a mere 15 minutes before our lessons were to begin. It was a close call but it was definitely a worthwhile weekend with two items checked off my list. I love China and I’m thoroughly enjoying all of our adventures.

I still plan on posting about the food we regularly eat but I’m just working on gathering all the pictures when we are out. We don’t always have a camera on us especially because mine broke but the post is coming!

Are you thinking about Thanksgiving plans yet? Because I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving and I’m thoroughly jealous of all the gluttonous food you will be gorging on in a couple weeks!

1 comment:

  1. Bonny! I can't believe all the fun things you are getting to do! What an adventure. I sure miss you, we need to see each other soon. When do you get back to the states and where are you heading when you get here? Have fun!! Love you!


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