The last two weekends here we’ve packed up the baby, jumped on some public transportation and headed to two different parts of Zhejiang Province: the islands and the inland mountains. Our first trip, to the coastal port city of Ningbo and the outlying Buddhist island of Putuoshan, featured sparkling modernity, the grungy piers and briny vessels of globalization that serve it, surging tides of tour-group vacationers, and the Buddhist monument on money-steroids phenomenon that is one part of traditional China’s heady encounter with crazy wealth.
Our second trip, just completed, was in the opposite direction: into Zhejiang’s wet, glittering countryside, mist-filled valleys, and cobblestoned village paths. In Wuyi Xian (“Militarism” County – rather sleepy despite the name), the ancient mountain towns of Guodong (“Guo family Cave”) and Yuyuan (“Yu family Spring”) still have their old brick streets, footbridges, residences and ancestral halls intact. The Guo and Yu ancestors clearly built these things to last, and last they have, although one thing the ancestors probably didn’t imagine was a 6-month-old white baby from another continent watching ducks from atop their hand-built bridge. For us, the ancient setting, cool air and soft rain, a scarcity of people and things to do, and simple home-cooked meals provided just the right escape from the National Week tourist madness currently overrunning glitzy Hangzhou.
Returning to Hangzhou yesterday afternoon, we promptly began preparations for another quick trip this week. More on that to come. But first, some Owen pictures from one of our hikes: