Moganshan and Winding Down

Trip Start May 28, 2008
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15
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Trip End Aug 02, 2008


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Flag of China  , Zhejiang,
Monday, July 21, 2008

Hello all,

Sorry for the delay. I should start with Moganshan, which, as I've explained before, is a resort type village set in the middle of some mountains that was once the haunt of Chinese celebs. In fact, Mao once took a nap there and his bed is preserved as a museum. Mo and Gan are the names of a wife and husband couple many dynasties ago who lived on the mountain (shan means mountain) where he made swords. Back to the schedule breakdown: we left ECNU at about 8 am on Thursday on a big charter type bus. The ride was not quite 4 hours, but I slept for about 2.5 of them. When we finally got to the mountain, we drove winding, steep roads, much thinner than those on the way to Massanutten and in that huge bus... quite scary. Before arriving at our hotel, we stopped at one of the very few restaurants on the way. All the food was grown there on the mountain. I should emphasize, this place was not some hip resort. It's completely in the country, just rice patties and fields of greenery, barely any other cars, and barely any civilization. Anyway, lunch was a really fun experience. We were served the typical green bean dish, fish dish, bamboo dish, and soup type dish, but we also had some really bizarre foods like rabbit, little crawfish, and we came upon the chicken's whole head in the soup. That's authentic. Anyway, after lunch we drove the extra 15 minutes to the hotel, which overlooks the mountains. I really can't describe it, and my pictures aren't very impressive, but it was really awe-inspiringly beautiful. Also we were surrounded by cicadas, unless you were right next to a person talking you wouldn't be able to hear over their buzzing. Anyway, we got all checked in and situated... the hotel was obviously not in great condition, but it is a very old place and understandably not up to American standards (for example, there were lots of bugs in the hotel, even in the bedrooms).

Upon getting situated, we felt inclined to just sit around and watch some entertaining Chinese television. We had several options to explore (literally exploring the mountain's sites) but most places are very far away and it was rather hot. After an hour or two, we decided we'd better visit the main attraction, Sword Pond. Unfortunately, before we left a classmate who'd left for Sword Pond earlier came back flustered covered in about 100 bug bites, explaining that it would take at least an hour and a half to hike there. I was obviously discouraged... I was honestly not willing to go at all, but I was peer pressured into it, thinking that I would eventually turn back. So, a group of about 8 of us started off, keeping to the uphill road for about 20 minutes. It was then that we passed other classmates who were on their way back to the hotel who said that they'd just come from sword pond and that the walk is only about 35 minutes there. I naturally was very relieved, and after meeting up with the others who had gotten lost, we continued on to Sword pond. It's a very beautiful area, and completely natural because there's really no one else there except the locals who have small drink stands amongst the trees. We walked for a while, and finally stumbled upon a rather unimpressive Sword Pond with a small waterfall and an even smaller pond. We continued further down the trail and found much more impressive waterfalls and generally more attractive sites. Of course all the boys wanted to take off their shirts and take waterfall pictures, so we had some fun with that. The hike there was mostly downhill, so after having some water and catching our breath, we hiked back uphill toward the hotel. By the time we'd gotten back onto the main road, it was dark and we hadn't eaten dinner yet. We ran into one of our visiting teachers who told us that the nearest restaurant was a kilometer away from the hotel so we followed him and the road uphill to find something to eat.

There's apparently one small road with a few small restaurants in Moganshan, so we picked one and ate a good meal. We were all exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel for a group bonding activity involving throwing a beach ball with questions on it and answering them. By then, it was quite late so we slept. Several classmates were unhappy at Moganshan so instead of leaving at 2pm on Friday like we planned, we checked out at 11 am and boarded the bus at 12. We withstood the long bus ride home, but I was happy to have an entire carefree weekend in Shanghai. Now that I think back on it, I can't remember doing anything special this weekend. I take that back- we (5 of us) were persuaded by a classmate late one night to visit the "red light district"... just to see it and say we say it. For some reason I tagged along for the adventure. FYI, there are many many "massage" parlors here in perfectly public areas which are actually more like brothels... Anyway, we ended up stumbling upon a quaint little bar and had a fun night.

The last week has begun, and somehow our workload has really increased. This week we're having to work on workbook homework, essays, new vocab, and the biggest even of the trip, "China Night." This is really a big deal from the program- essentially everyone has something to show from their time here, and it also counts for our last oral presentation of the trip. My involvement is as follows: I'll have several paintings on display as well as calligraphy, I'll be playing with a small group from our gourd-playing class, I'm participating in a fashion show, writing/acting in a skit with friends, and singing a song with the 200-level group. All very embarrassing, but required. It's a lot of work, and we're all very busy at the moment. China Night is Thursday night, and Thursday morning we have our final exam (blehhh). Then Friday at 5am we leave for Chengdu, and return to Shanghai 7/29. I'm sad things are coming to an end, but classes are really starting to wear on me so I'll be happy not to have to think about studying while in Chengdu. This blog has gotten far too long, and I have many things to do! One last thing... I really really want a Chinese haircut, something just really distinct and different (there are stylish hair salons on every street that are open til the wee hours of the morning) but I'm a bit nervous. I think it would be a fun and temporary reminder of my time here, but I really want something crazy and Chinese- a few friends got theirs cut yesterday and one is just randomly dyed and quite differently cut. Input? The only downside is that it would be quite expensive, perhaps upwards of 500 RMB, about 75 USD, which is still cheaper than the US but a bit high for China standards. Give me input please! Ok, that's all for now, back to work! See you soon...

Love, Luolan
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yourgheezer
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me first
Wow! Great blog. Pulitzer, baby. Come home soon!

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