Escape to Baiji Mountain

The past two weeks have been extremely hectic.  Last weekend I found myself indulging in some random “Shanghai Water Fight” that a group of people organized…basically, a flash mob.  I was sent a text the night before with instructions for the following day.  We were to meet at 3pm by the water fountain at People’s Square.  The fountain was not running at the time, but turned on precisely at 3pm, which was our signal to whip out our concealed water pistols, guns, super soakers, etc. and just go at it. It started out small, but people kept appearing and kept it going for awhile. The best part was all of the tourists and local families just stopping to watch us.  Even some of the little kids joined in.  It was a good half hour of kid-like fun in the sun.  Last year’s “Shanghai Pillow Fight” resulted in a YouTube video, so if the same happens with this, I’ll be sure to post.

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Later that afternoon, I went to the bar with my friend, Fi, to watch a rugby game and cheer on her Aussie team.  Afterwards, there was an organized Rubix Cube party outside of a convenient store, called ‘Lawson’s’.  Since alcohol is sold in just about every corner store, the idea is to raid their stock of beer and hang outside, in front of the store.  The Rubik’s Cube theme didn’t stretch too far, as only a few people showed up in 6 different colors of clothes.  So they were undressing and exchanging clothes in the middle of the street to become one color – quite funny. Of course their stock was too low to handle the number of people flowing in and out, so they actually had a truck deliver more around 11pm to keep the party going.  It was a day full of random events…a good Shanghai day.

I actually had to work both that Saturday and Sunday, so that was the extent of my fun all weekend.

This past week was probably the most stressful, workwise, due to a project deadline.  Thankfully, my team managed to get everything done, just in time for my long weekend away.  Work has really drained me the past few weeks, and I just needed to get out of the city, away from everything and everyone I know.  I found an organized group trip that was traveling to Baiji Mountain in Anhui province for hiking and rafting, so I booked it without hesitation.

The buses departed Shanghai around 5:30pm on Friday and the drive was a good 7 hours because we stopped so many times, and with 60 people, each stop takes at least 20 minutes.  We arrived in Tunxi by midnight and spent the night at a hostel.  We woke early, had breakfast, and got back on the bus to head to Baiji Mountain.  This drive up the mountain was unsettling.  It reminded me of a trip I took with my family to New Hampshire and we drove up Mount Washington, which has the smallest driving path up the side of the mountain, no guardrails or anything to keep your vehicle from rolling down the mountain.Image

I think this drive topped that, in scariness, though, since we were on a coach bus. We had to get off the bus half-way up the mountain because of a landslide, along with other vehicles trying to get past. At one point, our bus stalled out and started rolling backwards. It may have been 10am, but that’s when everyone started to pass around the liquor to help settle nerves. A few swigs of “Big T’s” scotch, some TsingTao beer, and I was able to make it through the rest of the ride. Image

We arrived in a small village at the top of the mountain where we sorted out rooms and ate breakfast before setting out on our hike.  It took about 45 minutes until we reached the first waterfall.  It was beautiful – in the middle of all the green, feather dusting, Suessical-looking bamboo trees. Image

The hike there wasn’t difficult, though very rocky and damp.  We were able to swim in the waterfall, which was extremely cold, but very refreshing.  There was a strong current due to the weather the past few days, so we weren’t able to go directly under the waterfall. Image

After hanging around for an hour we decided to walk further to see two other waterfalls.  They were too strong and water levels too high so we weren’t able to swim in those, but still a beautiful site!

The hike back was a little over an hour, and a little more difficult because it started raining and it was uphill. I preferred the rain though; I think I would have been miserable trying to hike in the extreme humidity we are often subjected to in Shanghai.  Once back at the farmer’s house, I took a short nap before enjoying our traditional Chinese dinner.  After dinner, a mini-bonfire was created and the drinking commenced.  There were groups playing catch-phrase, card games, etc. and we created a beer pong table, using cups two sizes smaller than the preferred solo cups, and indulged in some college-drinking-game fun.  It was the first time I’d seen beer pong played in China, and quite amusing to explain the rules to other foreigners who have never played.  Since there was a fire going, we had to have the traditional campfire treat: s’mores!  A fair amount of foreigners had never heard or tasted a s’more, so it made it fun to teach them how to create one and watch their eyes grow big and light up with a “this is so f***ing good!” look when tasting it.

The party continued on, I was tired by 11pm so I decided to call it an early night since we were expected to be ready early AM for the next day’s activities – also, I really wanted to read more of Fifty Shades of Grey (this book is addicting).

The next morning, after breakfast, we set out down the mountain – a much smoother ride – to the rafting site.  A small van took groups up to the top of the river where we picked out our 2-person raft and were pushed down a considerably steep drop to begin our rafting adventure. Image

ImageThe water was mild compared to any other rafting I’ve experienced in the states, but it was very jerky and there were a lot of surprise drops that made it quite fun.  It was a short run, maybe 40 minutes long before we reached the bottom, or end of the course.  Everyone changed into dry clothes and we left Baiji Mountain, headed for Shanghai.

I had such a great time meeting new people, taking part in fun activities and experiencing a completely different area of China than what I’ve seen living here thus far.  It was so nice to just pay, show up, and have everything else taken care of for me.  If I’m looking to get out of the city for a weekend, I don’t have the time to plan on my own, so this was an extremely viable option, and I plan to take full advantage of their future organized trips, which usually happen once a month.

Xx

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