A Chinese Odyssey travel blog

Emergency rations for a long journey!

At last, a break from the high rise urban sprawl.

Getting into the mountains of the Huangshan area.

Suburban apartments, rural backyards!

Our splendid hotel in Hangzhou continued to impress with the best breakfast spread yet. We were able to easily satisfy our whole food preferences and there were plenty of other options for those who preferred them, such as a Western big breakfast or deep fried noodles and much more.

We could easily have enjoyed another couple of days in this hotel, but it was time to move on to our next city, Huangshan. We departed at the very civilised time of 9am, but soon wished we had left an hour, or even two, earlier. Ping Ping advised us that, due to the Chinese National Holiday, we could expect the normal driving time of three hours to take around six hours! This was confirmed when we stopped at Lin’an after three hours driving, having travelled only a third of the distance!

Fortunately, things improved somewhat and we covered the remaining distance in “only” three more hours. We should have arrived in time for lunch, but by 3pm the restaurant was closed. Instead, we were given what we assumed to be a Chinese packed lunch, which comprised sweet buns, fruit bread and biscuits. Later observation confirmed this view, when we saw locals with their own carry-on meals. This was not a very good option, particularly for those with certain dietary needs, but wasn’t something to spoil the trip.

By the time we had settled into our room and freshened up, we had enough time for a casual stroll around the area of the hotel. The part of Huangshan that we are in is fairly run down, although it must be said that the hotel is pretty good - not to the same standard as the hotels in Shanghai and Hangzhou, but easily 3.5 to 4 stars by Aussie standards.

After a very acceptable dinner, we visited the local “Ancient Markets”. These provided our first real experience of shopping somewhere that didn’t look like any other high street in the world. It was great to see some of the traditional artisans at work. We watched painting; soy bean milling and tea leaf drying; and had the opportunity to buy many local products such as silk (maybe!) scarves, carvings and mulberry wine. Best of all, though, was the atmosphere. The street was narrow, brightly lit and festooned with traditional decorations, and very busy with lots of locals and about a dozen Aussies (us!).

We headed back to the hotel for a fairly early night as we have a big day tomorrow. We will be going to the Yellow Mountains, which are famous for their unique formations, and are steeped in ancient traditions and legends. We expect a busy day, as it is still the National Holiday week, so we had better be well rested.

Happy trails!


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