Won­ders of the Wild

En­joy­ing all the nat­u­ral beauty that Zhe­jiang Prov­ince has to of­fer

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Khy­ati Shah Page Edi­tor: luwe­nao@glob­al­times.com.cn

City life is ex­cit­ing and fast paced, how­ever, it also drives us weary and tired. Monotony creeps into our daily sched­ules and we of­ten find our­selves stuck in a rut.

As we go about the daily hus­tle bus­tle of our busy lives, we feel the need to break away once in a while. And that’s what week­end get­aways are for. They present us with the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to get away from the mad­den­ing crowds and an­swer the wild call of na­ture.

Week­end get­aways are trips where you can pick up your pals and head to a nearby re­lax­ing des­ti­na­tion with­out a lot of metic­u­lous plan­ning. These des­ti­na­tions are con­ve­niently lo­cated not too far out­side a city.

Call of the wild

One such per­fect week­end get­away where you can es­cape the stress of city life and get closer to na­ture is Hou’an vil­lage in East China’s Zhe­jiang Prov­ince. Hou’an vil­lage is nes­tled in Tiantai county of eastern Zhe­jiang.

Tiantai in it­self has a lot of at­trac- tions that one can visit, like the fa­mous Tiantai Moun­tain which is known as the cra­dle of the Tiantai sect of Bud­dhism.

The Tiantai school of Bud­dhism is pop­u­lar not only in China but also ex­tends to neigh­bor­ing coun­tries of North and South Korea, Ja­pan and Viet­nam.

Be­sides these re­li­gious con­nec­tions, Tiantai has soul-sooth­ing scenic spots such as tem­ples, wa­ter­falls and peaks for tourists to go on a hike.

Tiantai does seem like a per­fect place to find so­lace in Bud­dhist tem­ples, get re­freshed in wa­ter­falls and hike up some peaks to feel the full force of un­leashed Na­ture.

The scenic area of Tiantai Moun­tain cov­ers more than 187 square kilo­me­ters. The en­tire scenic re­gion is di­vided into 13 ar­eas. Among them, the not-to-miss ones are the Gouqing Tem­ple, Huad­ing Peak and the Shil­iang Water­fall.

Start­ing from the bot­tom of Tiantai Moun­tain, nes­tled in its foothills, is the Guo­qing Tem­ple.

It is in­ter­est­ing to note that the tem­ple was built dur­ing the Sui Dy­nasty (581-618) in 605 and was re­stored many times dur­ing sub­se­quent dy­nas­ties, the lat­est be­ing dur­ing the last im­pe­rial dy­nasty of China, the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911).

A par­tic­u­lar plum tree called the Sui Plum that is be­lieved to be more than 1,300 years old stands in the tem­ple, it is pos­si­bly the largest plum tree in China.

With more than 600 rooms and 14 large im­pe­rial halls, Guo­qing Tem­ple is cer­tainly one of the old­est tem­ples in China oc­cu­py­ing an im­por­tant place in Sino-Ja­pa­nese Bud­dhism ex­changes.

Tiantai Moun­tain has many steep slopes and lofty cliffs. The high­est stands Huad­ing Peak at a height of 1,098 me­ters above sea level.

A hike up the moun­tain­ous path is no doubt ar­du­ous, but is well­re­warded as the views from the top are breath­tak­ing!

The pin­na­cle of Huad­ing Peak seems to float among a sea of clouds and on your way to the top, the noise and din of the cities will be­come a for­got­ten mem­ory. The view from the top makes for a mag­nif­i­cent sight, as Huad­ing and the neigh­bor­ing peaks re­sem­ble a lo­tus pod bloom­ing in full glory with Huad­ing tak­ing the cen­ter po­si­tion of the pod.

Among the many cliffs on Tiantai Moun­tain, you will find a splen­did water­fall cas­cad­ing into a sub­lime deep pool of wa­ter at its base. This eye-catch­ing water­fall is the Shil­iang Water­fall. You could also call it the “Rock Bridge” water­fall, as shi means rock and liang means bridge in Chi­nese.

As the name in­di­cates, a stone bridge be­tween the cliffs that is less than 20 cen­time­ters pro­vides a walk­way from which you can ob­serve the water­fall and lis­ten to the roar­ing sound of the wa­ter plum­met­ing from a height of about 30 me­ters.

It goes with­out say­ing that the sight of the nar­row bridge may un­nerve you, but hold steady and main­tain your com­po­sure and you will be able to take in the full beauty of the splen­did Shil­iang Water­fall.

Apart from these beau­ti­ful sights, there is a lot to take in as you move to­ward Hou’an vil­lage. The coun­try­side of Eastern Zhe­jiang is as wild as it comes, but is also equally as peace­ful.

Hou’an is a place where your senses come to­gether as the moun­tain, rivers and sky all seem to blend into one.

The vil­lage is de­vel­oped enough for you to rent a nice cosy bed & break­fast, or a stay in ad­e­quately fur­nished guest­houses with ba­sic com­forts. While saun­ter­ing through the vil­lage, you may also find the oc­ca­sional con­ven­nience store where you can buy sup­plies. The ru­ral folk are al­ways happy to re­ceive tourists and treat guests with warmth and love. If you can speak even a lit­tle Chi­nese, their joy knows no bounds and you can then in­dulge in some friendly ban­ter with them.

While in Hou’an, you can go visit the nearby Mingyan Tem­ple. This an­cient tem­ple is an­other Bud­dhist haven and pro­vides good in­sight into past Bud­dhist cul­ture. You are sure to find your­self con­tent and at peace within the con­fines of this holy abode. Wooden pagoda struc­tures with twin­kling bells help ground your be­ing and make you feel in­stantly at peace

One of the main rea­sons why city folk feel weary and wish to get close to na­ture is so they may breathe fresh air and get away from the pol­lu­tion of the cities.

The Hou’an coun­try­side lives up to this prom­ise, in­fus­ing you with ab­so­lute fresh­ness in ev­ery breath you take. A re­lax­ing stroll in the vil­lage ob­serv­ing the vil­lage folk go­ing about their daily chores is also sure to bring a smile to your face.

An eas­ier hike

Hou’an has other sight-see­ing at­trac­tions too. I rec­om­mend tak­ing an­other en­er­giz­ing hike up the moun­tains there.

The Qiong­tai Val­ley is just a few kilo­me­ters away from the vil­lage and you can start hik­ing from there up to the top. Your senses will thank you pro­fusely as you run into abun­dant green val­leys and minia­ture wa­ter­falls gush­ing out from the rocks.

The wa­ter has a green­ish-blue tint and is clear enough to see your re­flec­tion! The hike is not very chal­leng­ing and for the ease of trav­el­ers, there are safety mea­sures like sup­port rail­ings and well-con­structed stairs that help you get to the top. There are also var­i­ous struc­tures built so you may rest along the way.

These rest ar­eas al­low you to sit down for a bit, grab a drink and get hy­drated till you are ready to start again. When you do fin­ish the hike and reach at the top of the Qiong­tai Val­ley, you get a view of the en­tire coun­try­side filled with cliff tops, green­ery all around and the beau­ti­ful blue sky above. It is truly a re­ward­ing and breath­tak­ing sight to take in from the top!

Be­sides moun­tains, if you en­joy sit­ting by a lake and whiling away your time gaz­ing at rip­ples in the wa­ter, Hou’an has some­thing just for you. About 20 min­utes by care away from the vil­lage is Taizhou Han­shan Lake.

The lake is a great place for a swim and you can also hike the sur­round­ing ar­eas of the lake. The pris­tine wa­ters of the lake, along with the sil­hou­ette of the moun­tains shad­ow­ing it, forms a per­fect pic­ture. I bet you will not be able to re­sist the temp­ta­tion of click­ing a selfie out there to pose and preen pretty on so­cial me­dia!

With abun­dant lush green val­leys, wa­ter­falls and lakes, the Hou’an and Tiantai coun­ties make for a great week­end get­away. The tem­ples too pro­vide much-needed bliss and so­lace from busy city life.

Liv­ing here for a few days will ground you fur­ther and make you re­al­ize the won­ders of the wild coun­try­side.

The pu­rity of the en­vi­ron­ment will cer­tainly leave you ask­ing for more and I as­sure you that af­ter a bliss­fully con­tent trip, you will carry the spirit of the wild within you as you re­turn home.

Qiong­tai Val­ley in Zhe­jiang Prov­ince Photo: Khy­ati Shah Get­ting there: Where to stay: When to go: Tiantai county is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by road from Hangzhou and Shang­hai. It will take about two hours to get there by bus from Hangzhou and about five and a half hours from Shang­hai. There are few hos­tels and guest­houses in Hou’an which will pro­vide a com­fort­able stay with blan­kets and tem­per­a­ture con­trol. Do bear in mind, these are not five-star ho­tels so while all lux­u­ries can­not be pro­vided, ba­sic com­forts are ad­e­quately met. Eastern Zhe­jiang is usu­ally com­fort­able all year round. The best time for trav­el­ing though is from April to Oc­to­ber so you can avoid the harsh heat while en­joy­ing a re­lax­ing trip. Ru les of th u m b

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