We spent the last 5 days tramping all around the southeastern coast of China, so close to Taiwan you could actually see one of the islands. Even though we were barely able to stay dry, it was an amazing trip, beautiful sights, great food, and wonderful people.
After getting picked up at the airport in tha afternoon, we toured a Buddhist temple, which included a short hike, and then headed to the beach. We all took off our shoes and then splashed a bit in the water, it may not have been the cleanest of all oceans, but it was still the ocean.The first of two birthdays celebrated on this trip, Josh turned 16. The student that Josh hosted in the fall, father took us out to a restaurant to sample some of the local cuisine and spoiled all of us.The second day we took a bus ride into the center of the province to see the historical Tuluo, earthen buildings. They still have people living in them, and thriving off the tourism, but it was an interesting look back at history, the local Chinese version of the European castle.The buildings are round, at least the older ones are, which is really gives an interesting feeling on the inside. Whole families, or clans live in one, and several hundred people can reside in a single building.You can’t walk by a snake museum and not go in…The Tulou from a hill nearby. This may have been the nicest weather we saw all trip, but it would start to sprinkle about 30 minutes later.Group by the Tulou, never in my life would I have guessed I would welcome the humidity, a nice change from Xian.Playing Mahjong late into the night takes its toll, however it became a nightly group activity during this trip and even earned us some fame with locals.Our second full day in Xiamen, we headed to Gulangyu, a small island just of the main island. A small island that is a great place to walk around since there are no cars.Gulangyu was home to several consulates after the opening to the west as a result of the Opium Wars and many of the old buildings have been turned into hotels or are rented to local businessmen by the government.The streets wound all through the city, a map couldn’t prevent you from getting lost.A pair of brave souls taking a dip in the South China Sea, I was pretty jealous.The food was delicious. Lots of interesting seafood including fish balls, oyster pancake-like-thing, and our new favorite, squid on a stick(none of these are pictured). The old consulates of Gulangyu in the front and the new construction of Xiamen in the back.The island could be circumnavigated in a half day on foot, and a little hill offered great views of the island city of XiamenAfter an overnight train, which is the best way to travel around because of the people you meet, to the northern part of Fujian province, we began our two-day exploration of Wuyi Shan park.The park consists of over 30 different peaks, of which we climbed 3 of them. Below are 3 pictures of the peaks, whose beauty my camera could not capture, shrouded in mist and clouds, the lush green scenery was gorgeous.Descending down from the first peak.One Thread in the Sky chasm, this thin one way path cut right through the middle of the rock cliff. Kind of feel like Indiana Jones here.After lunch we boarded bamboo rafts and floated down the river. We could take our shoes off and relax as we meandered through the peaks. The front guide had to pause for a cigarette, so Amir and Yeolim took over. The amount of smoking here is uncomprehendible for someone who was alive prior to the ’85, the guide in the back must have smoked half a pack, he always had one in his mouth.This trip was just great in that it allowed us to escape the dust and ‘haze’ of Xian, which I have sadly grown accustomed to.View from the river looking up.The next day, our full final, was by far the rainiest, but we still slogged through it to the top of one of the highest peaks. Here in the clouds we are looking down at the rafts floating by, where we were yesterday.The end of the hike had us far away from the masses near a beautiful temple, the rain was just part of the experience.Even though heavy rain wrecked our afternoon and dinner plans, we still had each other to enjoy a nice relaxing and game filled evening. Having the equivalent of ramen noodles on the 4th floor of the Su Min hotel, something that won’t be forgotten for long while.We celebrated one more birthday, Diego’s, on that final evening; which of course meant more Mahjong late in night.One last look a Wuyishan as we get ready early the next morning to head to the airport for Xian. What a fantastic trip despite, and at times because of, the rainy weather.