Ānhuī’s Bamboo Forest, Yellow Mountain

Our base whilst exploring the area around southern Ānhuī province is the old trading town of Túnxī. AKA Huángshān Shí, the town is not one for sights, but boasts some great street food which has been difficult to come across so far in China, grilled squid tentacles a surprising favourite. A popular pass time in Túnxī is street badminton…

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Squid Skewers

Southern Ānhuī is home to a handful of picturesque communities known as the Huīzhōu villages. We took a day trip to Mūkēng village to visit its bamboo forest. A walk through the eerie landscape was the perfect antidote to get away from typical Chinese hustle and bustle. Ang Lee chose to film the fight scenes for his movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in this very forest, obviously inspired by the mystique present in the mass of bamboo. After the hike through the panda’s favourite food, we took the fast route back down on the 50 metre long flying fox zip line. The ride lasted a total of 30 seconds and provided a quick but 360 view of the entire forest…

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The next day we called by the more popular village on the way home, Hóngcún, but was put off going inside by the extortionate entrance fee and masses of mega phone wielding tour groups. I’m going to be brutally honest about this, these picture perfect villages that exist in China, don’t get me wrong are beautiful, yet they have somewhat been turned into a kind of glorified zoo. Masses of tour buses turn up, pay to get in, then walk around and gawk at the villagers, for me Hóngcūn had lost its authenticity so we decided to give it a miss. Imagine if one day hoards of sightseers flocked to the Colliery to take pictures of the locals in their natural habitat…

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Caught a glimpse of local life from outside while looking for the back door

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Hóngcún, from outside the turnstiles of course!

Huángshān (yellow mountain) is named so after legend states that this is the location the yellow emperor ascended up to heaven. I would say it’s named after the colour my faced turned when I saw the entrance fee. The mountain range was formed some 100 million years ago when it lifted from an ancient sea during the Mesozoic period.

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We walked around the main summit for a while, which actually makes up a number of different peaks, one named the North Sea as the view is an astonishing sea of clouds. Then we began the long descent down 1000’s of steps, along a lovely stream and past the token biscuit eating monkeys. Although the walk was hard on the old calves, it was a great way to take in the scenery which looked to me like something from Jurassic Park. Some of the viewpoints almost looked computer generated, as did some of the people who marched past in line and in unison, listening to upbeat Chinese pop music with a uncanny resemblance to the 90’s video game Lemmings…

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