Article by Khyati Kumar
Photography by Daniel Christopher Yenshaw
who joint OKDeal Gouqi Island Trip in 4-6 Oct. 2017
This October, autumn was just setting in and it was beginning of the Golden Week in China. The Holiday week was about to start and unfold its leisurely pace of life among us. I was keen as always to travel and explore, and see what the beautiful outdoors of China had to offer this time.
This holiday, I chose to go with Okdeal trips, with whom I have travelled previously too and have had a good experience usually.
I personally love unique trips in far flung areas of the countryside which are remote and away from the city. Perfect for self-exploration and indulgence~
This time, among the many tantalizing attractions the chinese countryside has to offer, I chose to go to Gouqi Island which is located at Zhoushan city of Zhejiang province. Why? Because I was keen to see the seaside of China. I wanted to breathe in the fresh ocean breeze. The sea waves always have a mysterious appeal to me and I unapologetically give in to their allure every time :)
Gouqi Island trip was all what I expected and more！
Gouqi Island is part of a group of 394 Islands - the Shengsi Islands - a few hours east of Hangzhou Bay.
Many of the islands are popular tourist destinations - and Gouqi's lanndscape is certainly a stark contrast to the vibrant metropolitan skyline of Shanghai, which is a ferry ride away.
On day one, we set off early in the dawn to catch a bus for a hour and half long ride to the docks of Shanghai. Shanghai has a thriving maritime trade and it was my first visit to the docks too. We caught a ferry from the Xiaoyangshan Dock to the island from there and after a long but relaxing ferry ride of four hours we reached our destination Gouqi Island.
At first sight, on our way to our hotel, the views were breathtaking!
There were about 40 of us and all of us had different hotels adjacent to each other. It was interesting to walk between different seaside inns too as it gave a chance to see the island people at their daily chores.
One of the hotels we lived in was a cosy compact place to live in on the island. It was situated in the busy marketplace and the best part, was it was located close to the beaches. King Beach is the largest beach on the island and it was hardly a 5 minute walk from the inn.
Soon after lunch, and getting a bit of a rest we set off to explore the Mountain and Sea Wonders of the Island. The way to it was only about 15-20 minutes away from the hotels and inns we stayed at.
The walk itself was panoramic and picturesque at its best ! I was so happy to be just walking along the exotic seaside views and once we reached the cliff tops, the stunning vistas were unbelievable!
While sitting on the mountain wonders, all I felt was this is a moment which should go on forever. The beautiful blue of the sea in front of me, the skyline filled with clouds meeting the waters and it all blending into one great masterpiece of art. Mother Nature is a magnificent artist and Gouqi Island is one of its finest creations！
As the sun set, we got word of a local chinese opera which was playing in a nearby playground. Of course, I jumped at the thought of soaking in some chinese culture. Heck, what's a trip anywhere for a true blue explorer worth his salt without a generous dope of some local culture ?! Having had a good look at the opera, with its grand costumes in a full house.. before leaving I took a picture with one of the opera singers :D
After the opera , we bonded with our fellow travelers over some snacks and drinks. That night was a relaxing night where we mingled with our friends and made new ones. Chit-chat and exploring the seaside village town finished up the day’s activities.
The next day we set off after a chinese and western breakfast to hike onto the Abandoned Village called Houtou Bay. The village was abandoned many years ago due to the inconvenience of transportation and now it resembled a green wonderland, with creepers and vines all over the place.
This particular village used to be a thriving fishing hub, but was left deserted after fishermen moved to work on the mainland where catch could be more easily transported and sold.
Now, time stands still in the village as leaves and vines encapsulate buildings' old stone walls, weaving through windows and blanketing rooftops.
We had a good 2 hours to explore it. I was scratched in many places due to the vines and creepers which were thorny. But it was in a day’s work and what’s a wild hike without some thorny embellishments. Hah!
After that, we returned to our guesthouses and then it was time for the bonfire. Being on the island, we had the bonfire on a beach and it was a lot of fun with music, and sounds of the sea accompanied by chitter-chatter of friends. Being a bollywood dance teacher, I led the group to some fun bollywood songs and got the gang moving to Indian music! The bonfire was a memorable night for sure.
The last day, after breakfast we had leisure time to ourselves. Some of us went to the big beach near our hotels - King Beach and frolicked to our heart’s content. On our return home, I purchased some delightful souvenirs of baby turtles, and bespectacled twin turtles riding on each other’s back, and a pretty one with a pink hat. The lady seller was kind enough to also gift me a rabbit with a coat :^O^ All souvenirs were made of shells and I was so happy to have them back as a perfect memory of our amazing island getaway. We soon hopped onto our ferry and returned to Shanghai with memories of a lifetime!
About Okdeal, I would mention that I always have liked their organizational skills and barring a few instances, this trip too was a good one.
Most of their holidays have sight-seeing coupled nicely with some relaxing leisure time which I feel is most important for any trip.
Simply sight-seeing can lead to travel fatigue and hardly leaves you any room for relaxing and soaking in the moments we travel for.
So all in all, it was a great island getaway the remnants of which shall reside in my heart forever.