Huizhou, Anhui II
Lucun Village 芦村
We booked this place before leaving Canada, thinking this very small town would be a nice break from the crazy crowdednes of China for we would've been travelling now for over a month, and so, we may need some quiet down time and be surrounded by simple folks like farmers :). Well, instead of staying for the full week, we all agreed to leave after only 4 nights. It has nothing to do with the nice farmers that mostly ignores us. It is such a picturesque and quaint town. But it is also very touristy and not at all easy to make our stay homey. It would still be a nice place to visit for the day.
We realized the first day - no markets or grocery store. There were a few convenient stores and restaurants but the prices are catered to tourists. Our town is next to HongCun, a UNESCO World Heritage ancient village but there are no buses between us. So we walk the road - luggages and all to reach the town.
The other days, we walked to Hongcun for food but overall we found it expensive and choices thin. On our first night of arrival, we did not want to resort to eating at an expensive restaurant so we went into the convenient store and bought 12 packs of instant noodles (we were very hungry), eggs and snacks. There were a group of curious onlookers gathering about so i asked if anyone was willing to sell their vegetables. At first, they shook their heads which is odd because we are surrounded by farms and vegetable gardens! But then an elderly gentleman stepped in and offered a bowl of white radish which we were happy to pay for. Then the lady who lived next door to the store signaled me to follow her. She offered me a few squashes and asked me to wait while she goes gets more. She returned with 2 bags full of beautiful greens, garlic, ginger and a rabbit! I felt i didn't want to refuse so we paid ¥200/$40cad for everything. it was higher than our usual grocery bill but we were grateful for the kind gesture.
Each Ancient Town has an entrance fee and they are very strict at checkpoints to ensure no one gets through without payment. Once, we were low on funds on the outskirts of HongCun and the one bank available was not compatible with our bank card. At the same time, Lucy was desperate for a washroom so the only solution was for Alvin and Lucy to pay the entrance fee (¥156) to the 'ancient section' of Hongcun in order to find a bank to get more money and for Lucy to find a public washroom. It really was a town set up just for tourists.
Instead of walking on the road between the two towns, we thought to find some shortcuts via the fields. Alvin was most hesitant but we believed in the network of paths in rural farms!
In the few ancient villages we visited, it seems popular for art students to set up canvas and paint/sketch for the day. Our small town was no exception. Nearly everyday we were there, large group of students filled the town (even before we venture out for the day, well, that's no surprise.)
Eli is always game at joining me for extra walks :)
HuangShan - We kept our eye on the weather because you won't see much on the mountain if it's rainy or too foggy. The day before we left Lucun, we thought to give it a try as the weather reports seems hopeful and our proximity to the mountain is only an hour away. We met a driver that had a van and made a reasonable offer for a 7am pick up.
The day turned out to be extremely foggy even on the ground which is very romantic but not so good for climbing a mountain known for its scenery. Our driver made a convincing case to not climb the mountain and waste our money (which for our family, would have been over ¥2000/$400). Instead, he took us to 2 other hikes lower to the ground and much more visible.