A New Year’s Holiday in Huangshan

Because of how the Christmas and New Year’s holidays fell on Saturdays this year, I had to take two consecutive Mondays off. I decided to take the week in between off as well for a longer holiday. The first part of the week had Jun and I visit Beijing for Christmas. The second part of the week had us visit Huangshan in Anhui province for the New Year.

Jun particularly wanted to visit Huangshan (Yellow Mountain); our last trip there was underwhelming. During that trip, the weather was so overcast that we essentially walked within a cloud as we hiked around the mountain. Huangshan was one of Jun’s top destinations in China and vowed that he would return one day.

Well, he saw this holiday break as that opportunity. He quickly planned the trip and soon we found ourselves on our way to Huangshan city.

We arrived on the last flight of the day. From the airport, we took a taxi to the Crowne Plaza where we quickly checked in and went to our room for the night.

Day 1

The next morning we checked out of the hotel so we could go to the Huangshan Scenic Area. We decided to stay at one of the hotels on the top of the mountain to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The drive there went quickly.

We bought our tickets to the park and the cable car. Then we were off up towards the top. The weather that day was amazing with clear, blue skies. We were excited to actually get to see the mountain this time. Additionally, with New Year’s Eve not an actual holiday, hardly anyone visited the park that day.

The hotel we chose to stay at—the Huangshan Paiyun—was some distance away and we had to hike there. Walking along the mountain paths afforded us some gorgeous views of the area. We stopped now and then just to take in the vistas that were before us. We were thrilled!

Finally, we arrived at the hotel and checked in. They were nice and gave us a bag of fresh fruit. We got to our room and unloaded our things.

Afterward, Jun and I continued our hike up around Danxia Peak, which we had to ourselves and park staff. From there we went around the Beihai area and enjoyed the views from there. This part of the park had more people.

Around that time the sun was beginning to set. Our hotel had a special outing for the last sunset of 2021. We decided to join it and went back to the hotel. From the hotel, it was a quick walk to the Paiyun Pavilion where we saw the sunset.

As soon as the sun went down and it started to turn dark, though, Jun and I went back to the hotel to get dinner. We were hungry!

After dinner we went back to our room to relax, but then Jun received a message from the hotel that he won a competition the hotel staff had during the sunset excursion. A bit later we went down to collect his prize. Jun received a cute tiger plush toy and some tea from the surrounding area. They took a picture of us. We then went back to the room to rest until midnight.

When midnight came, we celebrated and welcomed in 2022!

Day 2

The next day after breakfast we checked out and left our packs at the hotel. The morning was a bit overcast. As we went up towards the Feilai Stone and the Tianhai area, the weather started to improve. The clouds began to clear up as the morning receded into the afternoon. As we got closer to Tianhai we noticed a significant increase in the number of people. By the time we got there, we were surrounded by tour groups who had come from the Yuping area.

Jun and I thought about visiting that area, but we decided it was too crowded and required us to hike down and back up the mountain. We elected to head back to the hotel and get our stuff and take our leave.

The hike back was quite nice. As we were going to the Yungusuo cable car station, the sky had cleared. We had some nice views of the mountain and surrounding area. We agreed it was the perfect way to end our trip there.

On the trip down we had a cable car to ourselves and enjoyed the scenery. When we got down, we took the bus back to the entrance where we took a taxi back to Huangshan.

Jun and I decided to stay two more nights at the Crowne Plaza for the rest of the trip. When we got back to the city we checked in and rested a bit before we went out to dinner at Dexin. The food at this local restaurant was great and the staff was kind to us. After having an issue with the first table they sat us at, they helped us get settled at a new table and we soon ordered a delicious meal. We ate so much that we decided to take a walk along Old Street.

We did some window shopping and Jun bought some local snacks to take back for his cousin and coworkers. We then took a taxi back to the hotel and called it a night by watching the second season of The Witcher. Soon after we went to bed.

Day 3

On the last full day of our trip, we decided to visit Huizhou Ancient City. Taking a taxi to the city took about an hour. When we got there, we bought the tickets to visit some of the historic sites inside the city.

Huizhou is now a district within Huangshan city, but it has a history that goes back over a thousand years. The Huizhou culture has had significant influence within China, such as with influencing Beijing Opera. The architectural style of the region is well known. And Hui cuisine is one of the eight main Chinese cuisines.

Our visit to Huizhou started with us walking towards the Huizhou State Office. The seat of government of the city during most of its history, the complex is now a historic site museum. The city has persevered and restored the structure immaculately; it was intriguing to walk around the place. In one of the rooms, they had wood carvings of the surrounding area that was neat to view. In the back of the complex were the gardens which were nice to walk around. From there you could walk along the city wall.

From the city wall, Jun and I walked around the city and visited some alleys and other sites. We walked around Huiyuan and saw the Xugo Archway. While there we stopped at the Renhe building and ate the light meal the hotel prepared for us. We then visited the narrow streets of Xinnan and Doushan, which allowed us to view different ancient houses in the Huizhou style. We also visited Cao’s Two Residences which was supposed to be closed for renovations but was open when we found it. Finally, we found our way out of the city’s west gate so we could go back to central Huangshan city.

When we got back to Huangshan, we decided to visit Liyang in Alley, a restored historic area with a number of shops and restaurants. We walked around for a bit and bought some drinks as we enjoyed the late afternoon sun. Many of the historic buildings have been converted beyond their original intent. There was an old house that was now a bookstore, as well as a church that was now a restaurant.

Soon, though, Jun and I got hungry and decided to walk to the restaurant Jun wanted to try for dinner. We walked across Zhenhai Bridge back to Old Street and walked to the restaurant: Huangshan Loama. We arrived just as they opened, which was a good thing since they got busy quickly. The food there was delicious, although we ate a bit too much.

When we were finished, Jun and I decided to walk along the river back to the hotel. The walk was nice, and it was a great way to end the day.

Day 4

The day started early as we had to catch our 7:20 flight back to Shenzhen. Huangshan has a small airport, so everything went smoothly. The airport, however, was freezing that early in the morning. There was one heater going on that I kept visiting to warm up before our flight. I was happy to get on the plane and the heat within it.

And then we were back in Shenzhen and ready to go back to work for the first week of 2022. Jun and I enjoyed our trip to Huangshan. It was wonderful to actually see Huangshan Scenic Area and visit new places within the region. It was a great way to end 2021 and welcome in 2022.

Spring Festival with Family

Lunar New Year arrived at the beginning of February. After discussing possibilities, Jun voiced his desire to return to Dexing to spend the holiday with his dad and stepmom. Since it had been awhile since we visited, we thought it was a great time to go there.

By the time we had come to that decision, the options to getting to Dexing during the holiday became limited and expensive. It ended up that to get there we would have to fly from the airport in the city next to Shenzhen and then take a shared car to Jun’s hometown.

Day 1

The start of our holiday began on a Friday when we had to take the bus from Shenzhen to Huizhou. Since we had an early flight the next morning, we decided to go the day before and spend the night there. Once we settled into our hotel, it was time for dinner. Jun and I ended up going to a nice Cantonese restaurant that overlooked Huizhou’s West Lake. After dinner we decided to take a stroll around the lake. As it was the holiday we discovered that there was a free lantern festival going on around the lake. We decided to see what it was like. It was quite impressive. And the abundance of people who were there with us thought so too.

Once we had walked around the lantern festival, we headed back to the hotel and called it an early night so we could wake up early for our flight.

Day 2

We woke up early the next morning and took a taxi to the airport. We got there just as the check-in counters for our flight opened and we were soon in the waiting area for our flight. The airport was tiny and everything went quickly. We were soon in the air to Shangrao in Jiangxi Province. We actually got there almost an hour early. Jun’s stepmom had found a shared car for us to take to Dexing, but it wasn’t supposed to leave for another hour. Jun and I ended up spending that hour in the airport. Once the car arrived we were soon on our way to Dexing.

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Once we arrived we met with Jun’s stepmom who made us lunch; we then went and took a nap. Later that day we walked around the city a bit before having dinner with Jun’s family. After dinner we went for a walk around the city and then called it an early night.

Day 3

The time spent in Dexing was mainly a time to relax and for Jun to spend time with his family. I took the time to relax and catch up on my reading. We would go for walks around the city and try different foods there. As I was reading Leah Franqui’s America For Beginners, I began to crave Indian food. Jun “kindly” told me that I was out of luck in Dexing and would have to wait until we got back to Shenzhen.

On this day we took a trip to Phoenix Lake. It was a nice walk around the area and a great place to enjoy the warm weather. After spending a few hours there we went back to have dinner—typical Jiangxi cuisine—and a relaxing evening.

Day 4

New Year’s Eve! Today was spent mainly in preparation for the holiday. Jun and I put up the Chun Lian in front of the door to express the family’s good wishes for the new year. Afterwards we just ate and relaxed for the day.

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In the evening we had a wonderful meal and spent a nice time enjoying being together.

Day 5

A rainy day in Dexing, as well as our last one. Jun and I just spent the day inside. After dinner Jun, his dad, stepmom, a friend of Jun’s dad, and I went up to Juyuan Tower. After the rain it was magically foggy. The area around the tower felt separated from the rest of the world and it was fun to be there.

After going around the tower and enjoying the views from there we went back and called it a night.

Day 6

It was our last day in Dexing. Jun and I had decided to spend the second part of the holiday in southeastern Anhui to explore some villages there and to go up Huangshan. We first had to take a bus from the city to the Dexing train station, which wasn’t actually in the city itself. It really wasn’t even on the outskirts of the city either. It felt as if it was in the middle of nowhere. When we go there we arrived in time to take the high-speed train to Huangshan city. From there we had to take a bus to get to Hongcun.

When we got there we quickly got our tickets to get into the village and then went straight to our hotel.

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Hongcun is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s considered to be a fine example of village architecture from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The village is arranged in the shape of an ox if you look at it from an aerial view. The village was even used in scenes from the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

We spent the day going around the village and enjoying the environment. Late in the afternoon we took a walk towards another village—Lucun—that was smaller than Hongcun but equally interesting. There were some beautiful areas of this village.

Once we had returned to Hongcun, Jun and I went in search of dinner and had some noodles at a small restaurant next to Moon Pond.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and went to bed.

Day 7

On this day we went to another UNESCO village: Xidi. Xidi is smaller than Hongcun. Established in the Song Dynasty, Xidi as a site is managed by the village itself. As such it is much less commercialized than Hongcun, which we were told was managed by a Beijing company. Jun and I agreed that while Hongcun was nice, Xidi felt more authentic. When we got there we first went to a wonderful family owned restaurant that had some really nice food. Once we were full we went and journeyed around the village.

There were different houses and temples to explore, as well as farm fields to enjoy. In the late afternoon we found a nice café to have some hot chocolate and waffle cakes and relaxed.

Soon our time in Xidi came to an end and we went back to Hongcun for the night. The next day Jun and I had to get up early for our trip to Huangshan. Before calling it a day we went to this nice restaurant—Guanlaotai—where I finally got to try stinky tofu. I ended up enjoying it a lot.

Day 8

The day we went up to Huangshan. It started at 4:00 in the morning so we could get to the entrance gate of the mountain at 6:00 when it opened. It was an early start; we did avoid having to wait in standstill lines. We still had to wait in lines, but they were constantly moving so it didn’t feel as if we weren’t getting anywhere.

Huangshan is another UNESCO site. Huangshan—Yellow Mountains—are well known in China. They are famous throughout the country for their natural beauty. Many renowned Chinese paintings and texts have been inspired from these mountains.

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Unfortunately, when we arrived it was a terribly foggy day. Our ability to enjoy the natural beauty was limited by the visibility afforded to us through the fog. Still, the fog added an ethereal feel to the place and we were able to experience parts of the different areas of Huangshan to ourselves. There were occasional moments when we got to see some beautiful sights as the clouds moved around the mountain peaks.

By early afternoon Jun and I were ready to go back to Hongcun and just relax for the remainder of the day. We spent a wonderful time at Zenlotus; we had some nice green tea and an amazing chocolate waffle with cream for afternoon tea.

The rest of the day we went around and did some shopping and just enjoyed being together.

Day 9

The last day of the trip. Our flight to Shenzhen didn’t leave until 11:00 in the evening, so we had an entire day to get to the airport in Huangshan city.

Since we had an early morning the previous day, we decided to have a late morning on this day. When we finally were ready to start the day it was near noon. We first went for a hike around Leigang Mountain at the northernmost part of the village before having lunch at a really nice restaurant near Chengzhi Hall.

After lunch we went for a long, winding walk back to the hotel to collect our luggage before heading to catch the bus to Huangshan city.

The bus ride was uneventful and we were soon in the Tunxi District of Huangshan. We decided that we would go to see Laojie before heading to the airport. The old street itself was quite interesting with different types of stores that sold different snack foods, handicrafts, and jewelry. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

By early evening we had dinner at a dumpling restaurant. Then we took a taxi to the airport. We had to wait a few hours to check-in for our flight. And even when we did our flight was delayed a bit. We finally arrived back at our apartment in Shenzhen at 3:00 in the morning. And a few, short hours later I went back to work exhausted and ready for another vacation!

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Overall, it was a great time getting to spend time with Jun’s family in Dexing and to explore a new part of China that I hadn’t been to before. It was a rather successful holiday! And I did end up having Indian food the following Saturday.