Article by Sammie Coxon from UK, Photography by Teej from Korea
both of them joint Xinchang County Hiking & Rapelling Trip in 2nd-4th April 2017
This Qingming Festival, I was very fortunate enough to go on a 3-Day Adventure to Xinchang County with OK, Deal! Travel.
This hidden paradise was the perfect location. Located in Shaoxing City in Zhejiang Province, we were treated to spectacular views of the countryside, laden with beautiful rapeseed blossoms,spectacular lakes, and tea plantations.
Although it was a public holiday, this unheard of location was almost our own. Nothing like those terrifying photos of scorns of tourists at a standstill!
With the busy holiday traffic, it took us roughly 4 hours to arrive at lunch. Our 45-strong group filled up the local restaurant. Each table was treated to a huge selection of various Chinese dishes. I think we also nearly ran dry their supply of beer!
On Day One, we also saw the stunning Wozhou Lake, with its impressive blue waters. After a drive up via mini-van, we were allowed to freely wonder around the top. As we were quite high up, the views of the lake were remarkable, with the surrounding mountains in the background. Not only that, we were surrounded by seas of flowers, tea plantations and local villages.
OK, Deal! Travel treated us to another great meal for dinner at our hotel, and then organised a social bonfire partyin the evening. It was a great way for everyone to get to know each other, notto mention see some hilarious challenges being completed, such as private dances and texts being sent to parents (These challenges were set by other group members during the bus journey).
Then it was back to our hotel rooms for a lovely night’s sleep before the big day!
On Day Two, we spent a full day hiking and abseilingon Niubei Mountain (牛背山). To say it was easy would be a lie. The morning hike was challenging in every aspect. Not only was the climb almost vertical, at times we were clambering over rocks and even sliding down on our butts.
But the reward was remarkable views of Xinchang County. At times, it was evenhard to believe we were in China, and the spectacular sight made me truly appreciate China and its incredible landscapes.
For lunch, we stopped near the base of the mountain, and had our packed lunches. We then walked to Shigou Cave, where we started rappelling.
Our group was very adventurous with almost everyone giving it a go. And for many, like myself, it was our first time.
I have to admit; I was terrified! The thingis, I am scared of heights, but my friend somehow managed to convince me to do it! But the thought of repelling off a 120ft high cliff, and the nervous wait at the top did not help settle my nerves either.
But once I was strapped into my gear, I mustered up the courage and was off.
I think the most important thing is to takeas much time as you want and don’t rush. The technique is to try and beperpendicular to the cliff, as if walking normally, just backwards! Also, just remind yourself that this activity is very safe, with professionals at the bottom, holding onto your rope as well.
Most of all: enjoy yourself!
And also to make sure your gloves remain behind the rappelling device. This was my mistake, as my gloves did get jammed and I was left dangling mid-cliff for 5 minutes. It must have been a very funny sight! And did make for a funny story!
Once everyone had finished rappelling, we went back to our hotel for another fantastic dinner. Looking around the restaurant, there were a lot of sunburnt faces! Did I mention we were really lucky with the weather too!
We then had another bonfire party in theevening, where we were entertained by these fantastic steel wool sparks thatour fellow trip member, TeeJ, had brought.
Day Three was full of cultural activities. After breakfast, we drove to Waipokeng Village (外婆坑村). To get to this remote village, we had to drive through winding roads amongst the mountains. The scenery was beautiful here, with clear-emerald waters dazzling us on our journey.
Once we arrived at the village, we all had the chance to participate in traditional local folk activities. First, we helped to make rice cakes. This involved using a huge wooden hammer to compress sticky rice into a flat disc. Most of us were quite impressed when a tiny Chinese man in a suit did this so easily, without breaking into a sweat. We also had some great volunteers from our group too!
Secondly, we helped to make tofu:
We also got to dress up in local traditional costume, which was a lot of fun! Some of the guys got a little too comfortable in the traditional women’s dress!
Then after lunch it was back to Shanghai and joining the mad rush of holiday traffic back to the city.
Everything about this trip was an adventure, and a challenging one indeed. Day Two’s hike involved hiking almost vertically up the mountain, even clambering over rocks with our hands, and sliding down on our butts. Not to mention the abseiling,repelling off a cliff almost 40 metres high.
But we were rewarded with spectacular views of hidden gems in China, something thatI have not seen yet before. And I would wholeheartedly say it was worth it, even if I couldn't walk the next day.
Hiking Difficulty Rating ★★★★☆
Special thanks to Tai Jung Kim, a.k.a TeeJ, who took these awesome photographs!