Final exams are done and grades are submitted, so it’s time to pack my bags and hit the road. Although this time, I am reluctantly packing my bags. Why? Well, I just suffered through 8 months of the hottest, hellish weather and I’m leaving right when it gets nice?! Noooo. I want to spend winter in Xiamen but I have itchy feet, and want to feel some real cold even just for a few days.
So what to do? I decided to take just a quick 3-week trip this winter so I could spend most of my 7-week holiday here.
I’ll start my trip here in the south. Living so close to Hong Kong, you would assume that I would jet there for a weekend all the time, right? Yeah, I assumed that too, until I factored in the weather. See when it’s 40C/100F+ degrees in Xiamen, the last thing I want to do is go somewhere hotter. Hong Kong is more south and more hot. So hellllllll to the no on that one.
But now’s a good time. I’m gonna go to Hong Kong finally to see some friends, do some hiking and eat good food. Then I’ll cross back into mainland, visit a friend in Shenzhen and then I’ll skip the cities for nature.
First nature stop: Wuyi Shan (Mount Wuyi) a UNSECO World Heritage Site in western Fujian province (the province I live in). Yes, this is somewhere I have wanted to go, but, again, the weather. I’m not climbing a mountain in the sweltering heat and humidity. But winter I can. It also helps that recently they opened a new high speed train from Xiamen to Hefei that is being hailed as “the most beautiful high speed train ride in the country.”
After I spend a few days climbing Wuyi Shan, I’ll continue the “most beautiful train” to one of China’s most famous places: Yellow Mountain (Huang Shan). I went to Huang Shan years ago, but it was pissing rain and they closed the mountains, so instead I went to the ancient villages nearby. I have never climbed the iconic mountain, so now’s the time to get it done. (Also–I’m hoping the high elevation will make it snowy and cold.)
Afterwards I’ll continue the “beautiful train” to the terminal station (gotta do the whole thing, right?) and then catch a train to Shanghai where I will hang out with my friends before going to Hangzhou to do more hanging out then I’ll catch a train back to Xiamen.
So it’s not a crazy adventure in uncharted territories like I usually do, but rather a chill little trip to see places I have wanted to see (and friends I miss). The unique thing about this trip is it is 100% train rides. No planes, no buses. The high speed train system in China has really developed and here on the east coast there isn’t anywhere you want to go that doesn’t have a high-speed train going there.
The longest straight trip is Hangzhou to Xiamen which is 882km (550 miles) in a mere 6 hours. Cheaper and less hassle then going to the airport. Not bad.
Also, I have an embarrassing confession. It’s gonna be cold in the mountains, so I actually have to borrow a jacket from a friend. Since we all live in Xiamen, and there is no need for any real winter clothes, I have one friend with one jacket. She went to Harbin (in the far north) for a few days recently and needed to get a jacket for that trip. Since then whenever anyone goes to a cold temperature we borrow the jacket (dubbed “The Harbin jacket”) and I will use it for my trip. That’s right folks, in all my friends in Xiamen only ONE has a winter jacket and we all borrow it. That’s how pathetic we are. My hardened winter New Hampshire self is embarrassed of this new “soft” me. But come on, owning a winter jacket would be a waste. I took a hike the other day in a t-shirt. A t-shirt. In January!
When I get back I’ll have one more month before classes start and approximately two months before the heat becomes too sweltering for me, so I’m gonna use the time to explore more parts of Xiamen while I can handle the weather. I get out and do a lot of hiking and adventures but there is still a ton of places here I have never been. So I’ll focus on local traveling, and go to the parks and mountains I haven’t seen yet.