Posted by: Richard Marshall | October 2, 2013

Moganshan

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View of Moganshan

Feeling like a break from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai I headed to Moganshan in Zhejiang for a few days rest in the mountains. Moganshan is not a spectacular tourist attraction but I was hoping to get away from from the crowds, and on weekdays the area was indeed almost deserted. The mountain had been a hill station for Shanghai’s foreigners and local elite in the 1930s; Chiang Kai-Shek and the boss of Shanghai’s gangsters, Du Yuesheng, had villas there. Mao himself had also once rested a night there – the bed he slept in was an attraction I managed to live without seeing. After many years on hard times the place was once again being rediscovered as a weekend getaway for Shanghainese and expats.

I almost didn’t make it as for the third time in China I left my ATM card in the machine. Luckily, I knew which machine the card was in so my friend Emma valiantly called the bank and established when I could retrieve it. I had a fair bit of cash on me but also borrowed some from from Mike, so thanks to Emma and Mike for making the trip possible! After all the messing around I had missed my train, so had to take a later bus to Hangzhou, another to Deqing, and then eventually my hotel sent a minibus to get me to Moganshan. After a stressful day, the hotel was lovely. It was at the bottom of the mountain and the little balcony of my room looked out over vegetable patches and a bamboo covered hillside. It was the beginning of autumn so the hills had just began to lose the green of summer. I had a delicious home-cooked meal at the hotel and a couple of surprisingly good local beers and went to bed.

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View from my hotel

The next day I had to figure out how to get to the top of the mountain so I went to a nearby hotel and rented a mountain bike. I’m not terribly fit at the moment so initially I found riding up steep hillsides tough going. The first road I took was a wrong turn, though the villages I rode through were pretty. Eventually I found the road to the hill station. It was well-built and lined with lovely old plane trees, clearly planted a long time ago. Moganshan is renowned for huge bamboo forests on the hillsides so I could mark the line of the road going up by the rows of trees – sometimes a bit disheartening! Eventually after  couple of hours I found myself at the top of the mountain. There was an interesting mix of buildings. Some of the old concession-era villas were still rundown, but a number had been fixed up into fancy and expensive hotels. The new development wasn’t that bad. I had lunch at a lodge run by a foreigner where I ate a cheeseburger, not quite what I had in mind in rural China but very nice. I left my bike at the lodge and wandered around a little in the bamboo looking at old buildings and trying to imagine the place as it must have been.

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Road up the mountain

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Old villa

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Church

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Bamboo path

The next day I didn’t feel like the bike again so I decided to walk through the bamboo to the top of a nearby ridge. The walk was pleasant but the mosquitoes in the bamboo were ferocious. Eventually I got high enough that they weren’t such a problem and then stuck to the road on the way back. But the view at the top of hazy rural Zhejiang was worth it. I didn’t do a great deal else on my trip. The idea was just to take it easy and I did. I went back to Hangzhou by bus and caught the fast train to Shanghai. The next day I went to the bank and was able to get my card with little fuss and now try to be as diligent as possible not to make that mistake again!

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Bamboo road

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View from the top


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