We started our last day in Wuyishan bright and early by heading back into the scenic area for a ride on the famous (in China) 猪排 bamboo boats.
The trip down the Nine-Turn Stream takes about an hour and a half. Eventually the sun came out and dispelled the fog, but the trip still included about an hour that I will remember among the coldest of my life. There were rocks shaped like different things all along the way but Aleid and I didn’t catch much of the introduction; all I remember is a Frog’s Mouth.
Somewhere along the stream my batteries died, so pictures are relatively scarce. Trust me, though – it was beautiful.
Back on land, we caught the sightseeing bus to one of the places that the woman at the hostel had circled on our map – 一线天, or A Thread of Sky. We had no idea what this meant, but we decided to check it out and ended up being glad we did. Basically, it’s a very narrow passageway through a mountain.
At times, it was too narrow for me to pass through facing forwards so I had to crab-walk, but it was pretty cool to look up and see the thin sliver of sky showing through.
On the bus headed to the next stop, we were joined by a young Chinese couple. They told us that they were on their honeymoon and asked if we could walk together. We agreed, which was definitely a good choice. First of all, it was nice to have Chinese travel buddies again.
I like having real conversations with Chinese people, getting to know them, instead of having the same exchanges over and over and over again.
Them: “You speak Chinese!”
Them: a) “Where are you from?”
b) “How long have you been studying Chinese?”
Plus, this couple was absolutely adorable.
They took pictures in front of everything, crossed bridges holding hands, and delighted in calling each other ‘honey’ after I taught them this term of endearment. Our first destination was the 大红袍, which actually is probably cooler to hear about than to see. It’s this special kind of tea that only used to be served to emperors; at one point there were only these 6 trees, which were declared a part of the World Heritage. In person, it’s basically a few small trees on a ledge halfway up a mountain.
We decided to walk to the next place, which led us almost 3km through the beautiful scenery of Wuyishan. I’m glad the walk was so beautiful, because the final destination was not worth a 3km hike. It was called the 水帘洞 or Water Curtain but more resembled a Water Faucet.
But man, what an unforgettable day anyway. It wasn’t the beautiful surroundings that made it so, though – it was the people. Our adorable couple decided that, since they had two 美女 (beautiful girls), they needed to find us some 帅哥 (good-looking guys), so they got this a group of 3 Singaporean classmates to join us. The woman then spent the rest of the trip extolling the virtues of a Chinese boyfriend/husband. (Among them: “Because you’re taller than them, if they don’t listen to you, you can just grab their hair and make them do what you want.” I asked her, “Then what do you do [as you’re shorter than your husband]?” Her answer: “I wear high heels.”)
After I asked, they wrote down several ways to congratulate newly-married couples by wishing them well. Here they are, with my translations:
- 永结同心 – “May you be forever united with one heart”
- 早生贵子 – “May you bear children (sons) early”
- 白头偕老 – “May you grow old together with white hair”
- 百年好合 – “May you be together for 100 years”
- 辛福一生 – “May you be blessed throughout your life”
It gets better. On the bus ride back to the entrance of the park, the couple asked us to sing them a song; in return, they said, they would sing one for us. Someone came up with the idea of national anthems, and so we all agreed to sing our 国歌. The Chinese started – at first it was just the couple and the two Chinese students, but as other tourists boarded the bus, they joined in. Sitting in a crowded bus full of happy, clapping Chinese people singing the March of the Volunteers was a pretty special experience. Then the Singaporean student sang his national anthem in Malay, Aleid sang [what she knew of] hers in Dutch, and I sang the Star-Spangled Banner. Somehow I picked the right range and remembered all the words, so I think it wasn’t half bad. Anyway, what a cool cultural exchange!
The couple went on to another tourist site, but made the guys take us to dinner. It was a little awkward, I’m not going to lie. Maybe it was because of the woman’s teasing, but these boys were so scared of us. I understood their reluctance to speak English, but I kept asking questions in Chinese and getting one-word answers. The food was good and they – polite if not friendly – paid for it all.
After our lunch/dinner it was about time to head back to the train station. The ride back was shorter by 2 hours and more comfortable, because we sprung the extra 15 yuan ($2) to get a lower bunk. Ah, traveling in the lap of luxury!