Posted by: Richard Marshall | June 21, 2013




My first trip out of Shanghai was to Huangshan, or Yellow Mountain, in Anhui province. Some friends of mine – Mike, Sam, Kent and Rob – and I took the overnight train to Tunxi from Shanghai. The train was pretty comfortable and we had a few beers which helped me sleep but left me a little weary when we finally arrived. From Tunxi we had to catch a minibus to Tangkou at the foot of the mountain where we had a quick breakfast. We then took a bus some way up the mountain to the cable which would take us to the top. The cable car was spectacular. It was a misty day and the clouds swirled around the granite peaks and the pines. It was the very beginning of spring so the first magnolias were beginning to flower too. There were obviously lots of them and in a few weeks there would have been great banks of white flowers, but in early April it was just the occasional splash of white against the mountainside. Once had the top, we had to wander a little along the network of paths before we found our hostel. Everything on the mountain had to be hauled up on foot so food and accommodation was much pricier than down below but it was still worth it to be at the top. I went for a walk on my own in the afternoon but could hardly see anything through the mist. The next morning we all got up early to see the sunrise. As it was still dark and clearly very misty when we got outside I almost went back to bed, but Rob and Kent were enthusiastic so with some reluctance I followed them on sometimes precipitous paths to the highest point on the mountain. At the top a cold wind was howling, but after a while the mist lifted to reveal a wonderful view. I couldn’t believe I had almost missed it. The weather continued to improve and later Mike and I walked the same path I had done the day before, but this time with amazing views of a canyon and the mountains.
Mike is a great photographer and took some awesome photos:

landscape 2



Misty mountains

mountain top

The top of the mountain

Mike had return that evening so he, Sam and I headed back down that afternoon. Mike caught the train but Sam and I were staying another day so found a cheap hotel at the foot of the mountain. I was vaguely aware that there were some historic towns in the area but I hadn’t done my homework – I know now that in fact there are two World Heritage Sites – Hongcun and Xidi. Sam and I were unable to find these. We went to the bus station not knowing where to go, got on a random bus on the recommendation of another tourist, and were dropped off at a roadside fuel station which seemed to have no access to the surrounding countryside. Eventually though a security guard let us through a gate in the wall and we started walking through the rapeseed fields to Chengkan. Chengkan turned out be one of the less popular, less extensively restored and less crowded of the old villages in the area, and absolutely charming. It was one of the first warm days I had experienced in China and with the flowering rapeseed in the fields and wisteria in the village it really felt as if spring had come at last. Sam and I wandered through the quiet lanes of the town and even had a rest on the grass by the water. Thank Sam for taking this great photo!

me cheng kan

Cheng Kan

street 1


After a few hours we caught a bus to take us back to Tunxi, and the train. In fact we had to take several buses and I was beginning to get frustrated by the end. But driving through rural Anhui in spring was actually one of the most enjoyable moments of the trip – it was a great contrast to the grey, urban jungle of Shanghai. We had a fairly horrible meal and caught our train back where we still had the rest of the day to recover before heading back to work. The countryside was lovely and it was exciting to finally venture beyond Shanghai.


  1. Hey Rich, awesome post! How cool to stay on top of a mountain! I never got to see rural China, it looks beautiful.
    xox T

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