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Huangshan and The Three Gorges

July 17, 2015 1 Comment

Hi again.

I thought I was entitled to still contribute a bit while I am still touring the country even though I’m not technically with the PMF crew anymore. To be honest this is really to let the guys know how I’m going on my own as I actually have no other way of contacting them while they remain in China… but you can read on if you want.

My departure from the crew in Beijing rapidly turned from a leisurely goodbye over breakfast to a rapid exit out the door when Green informed us the airport was a ninety minute metro ride out of town. I never had time to get anyone’s China email address.

My first day away from the crew was tough. I missed everyone. I really thought I had made the wrong decision. I went from constant fun and banter to only speaking about ten words in English in the last 5 days. Well that’s not entirely true, as I will explain shortly but I have really missed Green’s interpretive skills. Her presence can not be underrated on this trip. China is a tough place to get around when you only know 5 words of the lingo. Thank god the numbering system is the same or I would be totally stuffed. Having said that I have been completely overwhelmed by the help and generosity of complete strangers coming to the aid of an obviously stranded tourist in the last few days.

I left to do the Three Gorges River Cruise, Huangshan Mountain and Shanghai.

The Three Gorges River Cruse

It started slow but built in intensity and excitement every day. It was worth the effort to get down here. The gorges are magnificent, awesome, beautiful. Pick you’re own superlative it wouldn’t be out of place. Having said that cruising can be boring and very structured. I was not allowed off the boat unless I was part of a paid tour which I refused to do. They were terribly over priced as was virtually every service provided by the boat.
There were only about 50 people on a boat that can hold 250 easily. River cruising seems in serious decline. I guess losing a ferry with 400 people on board on the same stretch of river I cruised will do that.

I met some English speaking people. There was a family of poms. The mother was a doctor and she was the archetypal whinging pom. When she found out I shared the same profession she launched in multiple tirades of how the health system and standards were declining in the UK. My monosyllabic responses probably didn’t impress her. I also think I fell out with the female cruise director who initially I thought I would get on. For some reason the cruise was structured so that just as the boat was entering the most spectacular parts of the gorge, lunch was served. She expected me to be there exactly on time. Was never gonna happen.
I usually raced in as they were clearing the buffets and scrounged what I could. She chipped me about it twice but I told her I came to see the gorges not eat mass produced Chinese food.
She refused to shake my hand as I departed the boat. Oh well!  Never should under estimate my innate ability to piss off a member of the opposite sex.

On a brighter note there was a wonderful Australian man, Alfred, cruising with his Chinese wife Susan. He has lived here for twenty years teaching business admin at a university in Shanghai. He is completely in love with the place and has really studied its history.

I was given a real dictation about China’s recent history each afternoon over a beer or 3 on top deck. It was absolutely fascinating and enjoyable. He and his wife were invaluable in helping me get on my way once we disembarked the boat. I hadn’t realised I had put myself about 2500kms from Shanghai with 6 days to get there. There was a twelve hour bus trip to Huangshan and another 12 hour overnight train trip to Shanghai tonight. I’m waiting for the train as I type.


Huangshan Terrace

Huangshan (translates to “Yellow Mountain”) in China

The place simply defies description.

You may remember me waxing lyrical about another mountain we explored – the similarly called Huashan. I used every superlative I could muster to describe it, but for a bloke who actually prides himself on his knowledge of the English language, I simply don’t have the words to describe what I saw today.

Google it and look at the images and say to yourself as I did they must have been taken on a good day and probably doctored. Then consider the fact that in my humble opinion they barely do justice to the magnificent beauty of the place.

It is easily my no 1 highlight of China.

In fact it has allowed me to answer a very difficult question that I occasionally get asked: “Peter, what place has most impressed you in all your extensive travels around the world?”

It’s usually a difficult question to answer and can often depend on your mood at the time.

Before I have stumbled and rarely given the same answer. It’s usually a mix the Kimberley’s, Yosemite National Park, Paris, the statue of David, New York, Africa’s game parks.

Now, after today, I can give a simple direct unequivocal answer: Huangshan Mountain, Anhui Province, China.

Nothing has ever stunned me or thrilled me more.

I’m so glad I made that decision to bugger off from you guys.

Shanghai tomorrow.

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  1. Tgs Health club says:

    Wonderful to hear what the scenes of China are like

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