Escape from the mainland
Trip Start Sep 02, 2009
72Trip End Oct 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
Lee's International Youth Hostel, Ningbo
There's not really a lot to say about Ningbo. It is a 'small' city and our hostel is by a lovely park and lake called 'Moon Lake'. The centre of town has numerous temples converted in to food and clothes markets... a cathedral and a replica statue of Michaelangelo's 'David' (?!).
China is a funny place because just when you think you've seen the strangest thing you could possibly see, you see something even stranger! When we were walking through the food market we saw a HUGE boiling pot... with a whole ram in it. Eurgh! Then, on our way to the supermarket, there was a woman sitting on the side of the road with a pair of scissors, cutting the faces off live frogs. I thought I was going to be sick
Well actually Amy wasn't the one who saw the whole thing: She looked away right before the scissors chopped into the face, and then asked for confirmation of what she assumed just happened. I confirmed her suspicions... yes, she had just chopped that frogs face off. And yes, it was alive.
A girl we met in another hostel described how she saw a woman sat with a big bowl of chicken feet. She was taking each foot in turn and clipping the toe nails off. Nice.
Anyway, all that said, Ningbo is actually quite a nice city. But we were only here as a stop over to the Buddhist island of Putuoshan.
On the day that we left for Putuoshan we got up early, went to get some yummy dumplings for breakfast and caught a taxi to the ferry port. At this port we boarded a bus which was to take us to another port outside of the city.
The bus journey took an hour and a half and was loud, bumpy and lots of fun! The buses bouncy suspension sent us flying in to the air on numerous occasions, and the driver seemed to substitute the breaks, steering and indicators with the use of his horn
We got to the port at Daxie a little shaken and excited about the ferry ride to the island. We hadn't booked any accommodation so we went to the tour desk and booked ourselves in to the Green Business Hotel at a hugely discounted rate. The pictures of the rooms on the brochure looked extravagant and the hotel itself boasted many facilities... even a spa! We were given two fluorescent yellow visas to wear so that the guy from the hotel who was going to pick us up at the other end could spot us. We looked sooooooooo cool!
The ferry ride took an hour and it was lovely to see the lush, mountainous islands as we passed.
When we arrived at Putuoshan we bought our ticket onto the island (you have to pay 160 Yuan because the whole island is a national park) and went to look for the hotel representative. It was a boiling hot day and we couldn't wait to get our bags off our backs and change into cooler clothes.
We found the guy who was to drive us to the hotel and he asked us to follow him to his mini bus. We walked (at quite a pace!... I don't think he cared about the fact that we were carrying large backpacks) for about 10 minuets to get to the bus. The bus ride lasted about 30 seconds. Then we got out. What was the point of that?
Our hotel didn't look quite like it did in the brochure. Dave said that it looked like it was still being built. I thought it looked more like it was being torn down. Our room, in the deepest darkest recesses of the hotel, had manky damp wallpaper. Other than that though, it wasn't too bad. After all, we were only there for two nights. We had a quick shower and a pot noodle, then went out to explore.
We climbed up a stepped mountain path called 'The Western Beauty Spot' which started just outside our hotel. There were several caves on the way up which were filled with Buddhist icons and incense, and had pillows outside them for people to kneel and pray. We saw stunning views of the island, the ocean, and a military training base, from the rocky peak. We also saw a rock formation which resembles two tortoises on a rock. There was also a temple at the top which we went in to have a look around. It was very peaceful.
We made our way down the other side of the mountain, passing more temples on the way. We eventually reached the bottom and main temple of the island: The Puji Temple. It was really beautiful with a large lotus pond in the middle of the square.
The next day we went straight to the beach (called the 'One hundred Step beach'). It was an extremely hot day. Perfect! Standing in the pavilion on the rock on the beach was spectacular. To our right we could see the huge golden Buddha standing tall on the cliff and to our left we could see all the temples and pagodas tucked amongst the green of the mountains
On the way we got side tracked by going down an overgrown looking path and found ourselves at 'The Immortal Well'. It was a well in a cave underground that had been turned into a shrine. It was a spooky but beautiful sight. We saw loads of caves on the islands, all with idols and incense inside and calligraphy carved on the rocks outside... and one which was different to the rest as it went deeper and was empty, except for what looked like meat hooks in the walls. We didn't go in that one. We continued on our 'off the beaten track' path and came across clearings which had the most spectacular views.
After a few hours of adventure we decided to go and see the gold Buddha that we had seen from the beach. Along all the paths in Putuoshan there are 'rocks' which play serene music making it very relaxing.
The gold Buddha was HUGE! It was set in an area with white stone warriors and lions all around, large wooden alters where people had placed food offerings, and rows of flowers on the floor. Striking! I don't really know how to put it into words, you'll see how spectacular it was when I put the pictures up.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the island, and that night we watched the movie channel which (to my horror) was showing a marathon of horror movies. That night I had nightmares.
The next day we headed back to Ningbo... where I am writing this! We are headed to Guangzhou tomorrow, and hopefully on to Hong Kong! I'm so excited!