Hiking in Yellow Mountains (黄山)

A few weeks ago already colleague organized a hiking tour in the famous Yellow Mountains. It was 2 days of hiking with the night camping in tents somewhere inbetween. So although it was not a long treck (at least compared to other hiking tours I’ve done like Monte Rosa or Kilimanjaro 😉 ) we still had to carry quite a lot of stuff.

I had actually bought quite some stuff before setting off: Sleeping bag, isolation mat, backpack. Don borrowed me his tent, I would have bought the same thing. All that from local Decathlon for comparably few money.

The people organizing offered also to rent some of it. But I preferred having what I like. And I actually plan reusing it later. There are lots of other things around in China, which are worth seeing.

The scenery was overwhelming. And camping on Chinese has some minor difference from the way I know it…but see yourself!

Note: Pictures named “Henning” or “YuFeng” are courtesy of my colleagues! Thanks very much!

Getting there

Getting where? To be honest, this is one of the rare occasions where I did not exactly knew where we where. Certainly, you can find the Yellow Mountains on various maps. They are in the south of Anhui province. And I know that we starting our tour still on the Zhejiang side and walked over into Anhui province. That’s about it. But I can tell you: It’s a bit a distance from Shanghai, at least if you travel by bus and just do it as a weekend trip.

We were planned to set off from the project site at about 19:00. We really got away at 20:30. The originally plan foresaw us arriving at a hostel somewhere at the beginning of our treck at 01:00. Yes, a.m.! We really arrived there at 03:00 a.m. And the last hours the road was quite rought, so not much about sleeping on the bus.

02: Half past three in the morning or not: We got some hot noodles with good sauce served!

03: The rooms were simple, but clean. However, we preferred sleeping in our sleeping bags, although the hostel father made some noise and pointed to the bedsheets we had put away. Didn’t understand a word, but I think he wanted us to use his sheets…

04: The morning, i.e. a few hours later: Washing on the floor with some refreshing cold water.

10: The breakfast was actually the best Chinese one I ever got in China! It again mainly consisted of noodles, plus a collection of various vegetables, some spicy, some less, some eggs in addition (like here pointed out by Henning…)

08: Our bus in front of the hostel.

09: View out of the third floor over the yard next door, down the street we would take an hour later.

07: Right in front of the hostel: Again, I don’t know exactly where we are. But the area is fairly remote. Live is organized more simple out here.

11: The last rented parts are unloaded from the bus. Watch the exact moment the isolation mat hits our guide… 😉

15: And that’s what it looks like if all the stuff is stowed away on the backpacks. As I was the only one who did not rent anything I could pack my bag completely at home. With very few other things I actually managed to get everything IN the bag, inclusive tent, sleeping bag, isolation mat, a few clothes. And, I could not stand it otherwise, a newspaper (Die Zeit) and a small paperback book. The newspaper even will serve a purpose, we’ll see later… The book I read a bit on the bus.

Zou Ba!

16: And off we were. The streets are small, the villages even smaller. What a change compared to the gigantism of Shanghai!

20: The small houses crouch somewhere at the slopes of the enormous mountains.

21a_Henning: A combination of religious and ideological past: A madonna-like (sorry, can’t really remember if it supposed to be her) made of wood in front of a fading-red wall-painting of a flag with good old socialist symbols.

22_r1: An old gathering hall, which we were pointed especially beacause of its russian origin: Watch the russian star on top!

23: Otherwise that village was less impressive.

24: This small boy, living in the above village, I shot out of the hips with much luck: A sceptical view back where our group of people came from, in the back a colorful collection of stones forming a house wall.

If I would have taken the picture ‘officially’ aiming at him he would have made poses. But as it is now it is him naturally. Probably my best picture on the trip.

25: Rice field after rice field…we haven’t really reached the steep mountains yet.

26: Harvesting rice: The plants get cut off near the soil and are then put into a foot-driven simple machine, which knocks off the rice grains (to the right).

26a_Henning: The gate marking the entrance into the offical scenic area. Passing it costs money… Something like 35 Yuan or so. And that’s me in front!

26b_Henning: Shortly after the entrance we surprisingly hat to pass yet another small village.

30_r1: The ‘real’ mountains started. Uphill it goes…

30a_Henning: One of the many breaks. The group didn’t really believe me when saying they were too fast… A break every half an hour was the logical consequence. Thomas and I tried for a while to walk slowly but more steady, i.e. without breaks, but were soon too far ahead. Well, never mind for a one-day trip 😉

34: Just enjoy.

35_r1: This rock cleft appeared on all picture postcards and entrance tickets and behind me a lot of cameras clicked.

36: This bull did speak neither Chinese, English, nor German. I tried all three. Didn’t matter, it was half an hour after the last break, so we breaked again and past by him later…

38a_YuFeng: Shortly after the bull we reached the highest point of our track (which was no summit actually), now downhill… The faces looked a lot happier!

39: But still we needed breaks. Here, we crouched on stools in the yard of a farm house along the way. I don’t know why we did so. I would have never had the idea to walk into a yard, talk to the landladies (to the left and the right in the doorways), who then moved out the stools and benches we are now sitting on. Apparently, the group had even tried to negotiate a warm lunch. But in return to their hospality various group members at least bought potatoes and special kind of nuts from them.

41_r1: This boy found the large backpacks impressive. He didn’t really get away from it.

42_r1: And one more thing we bought: A living chicken! Starting as a gag, our guide eventually really managed to catch one.

42a_Henning: Buying it was no hassle at all. The chicken was semi-officially weighed and changed owners for just 15 Yuan, if I remember correctly.

43_r1: That poor animal was carried like this for the next 2 hours until we reached our camp site…still alive! I am not used to dealing with living food. But seeing this story and the naturalness, with which farmers and the (at least some) Chinese around me catched and dealed with the chicken reminded me that in the beginning the nicely plastic-packaged and sometimes even deep-frozen, pink pieces of chicken flesh, which I buy in a sterile supermarket, all start off as living, nameless chicken. Life out here is a lot closer to nature.

44_r1: On and on through green forest…

46_r1: …over small bridges…

46a_YuFeng: …along rivers with glass-clear water…

47: …along the slopes of the mountains.


47a_YuFeng: We reached our camp site. Some just sat down while others cooled their feet in the clear river,…

49_r1: …which all of us had to cross on a few rocks to get to one of the few plane places, which allowed us to set up tents.

51: Soon, we had guests: Three kids and a dog somewhere from nearby farms.

52_r1: That’s what my tent looks like.

I was running low on water. Should have bought something at the last stop. While I was discussing this matter with my German colleagues, the Chinese asked us how much beer we wanted to have. Well, that’s an alternative! But were to get it from? It turned out that we were supposed to be able to buy some at the next farm house. And so a few people, me amongst them, headed off to there.

Our guide must have done all that more than once. The field we used for our tents must belong to some farm, which needs to agree. The house we got the beer from did not look like a shop at all either. So he must know the surroundings. However, we did get beer there, at least 6 bottles right away.

53: I didn’t really notice that we took the chicken with us, but didn’t return with it…the farmer brought it back from the beer-selling farm house a couple of minutes later: That’s what’s left from it…on the side of the bowl, which is facing the camera, that’s a not-yet finished egg from inside the chicken!

54_r1: The cooking equippment the guys brought was quite impressive:…

55a_Henning: …small but very effective.

56: The first parts of the chopped chicken gave their taste to a chicken soup…and that soup was really tasty! (While I was not so impressed by the uncaringly chopped chicken-parts, but that’s normal butchering technique here…)

55: The rest of the beer arrives…the landlord of that farm house brought it! And on the next morning he came back and picked up the empty bottles…better service than on the official camping sites I stayed on in Germany 😉

57: …and it certainly needs cooling.

59a_YuFeng: Yu Feng in action, catching the last lights of the setting sun over our tents.

59b_YuFeng: A fantastic lively pic of our guest-kids with dog. Open the full size version to catch the full atmoshpere!

59c_YuFeng: The kids loved to be photographed.

58: My own results were comparingly poor… 😉

59_r1: Yu Feng while taking picture 59a.

62: The artist presents his results to his models.

64_r1: While Henning and I were about to collect some dry wood and were discussing, which pages of my brand-new newpaper “Die Zeit” we could sacrifice to lighten the charcoal for the barbecue our guide grapped into his backpack and came with a gas-lighter…very romantic.

65: But effective.

72_r1: However, the newspaper still served a good purpose!

72a_YuFeng: Did I mention the kids loved pictures…?

73: Eating our dinner was more like getting something here, something there…I was a bit missing the group-feeling here. Here’s the fantastic chicken soup…

74: …and here the offerings of the barbecue: Bread, sausages (hm, I’m too German…the Chinese sausages still cannot convince me…but Henning brought German-style ones, which were eaten and gone very quickly), corn.

75: After dinner, we grouped around the bonfire. Well, in Germany you would now tell stories and jokes, drink beer, maybe sing one or the other song, or just quietly watch the flames or the stars, if nothing better crosses your mind. In China you have to keep active, no matter where or when…and so there MUST be some kind of game, some kind of activity. In our case it was a word-guessing game.

Later, we visited another group of people camping close to a farm house. That group was also sitting around a bonfire. And they were also doing one game after the other. Some high-sophisticated murder&detective thing. Didn’t get it…

A Chinese girl approached Thomas and me right when we arrived and greeted us on German! It turned out she studied German and wanted to pay Germany a visit next year. She talked a lot… Once the German talk slowed down a bit and we still couldn’t follow the Chinese bonfire-games, Thomas and I headed back to the tents for a sleep.

The Second Day

77_r1: Morning toilet at the river.

78: Slowly the group gets up.

79_r1: But I totally underestimated the breakfast…I never liked Chinese breakfast anyway, but they sticked to a lot of hot dishes even when camping. While our German breakfast (I brought good bread, salami, Fleischwurst) was a matter of 10 minutes, the Chinese one took a good 1,5 hours.

80: During the meal preparation the tents got packed one after the other.

81: Morning over the Yellow Mountains.

83: We even found crabs in the river! The water was really extremely clean!

83a_Henning: Finally, we made it to leave…

86: …our camp site.

87: The few last kilometers went along steep mountains. The comparably broad street narrowed down to a narrow track. Later, we even had to climb stairs.

88: But the scenery…

89_r1: …stayed interesting.

90_r1: Yellow mountains, blue sky…

91_r1: The end is near…some plane in reach.

93: Hm, well, just looked nice.

93a_Henning: At the end of the official path this house with kiosk and small restaurant invited for a break. We Germans walked slowly but steadily without breaks and, thus, had to wait for the larger part of the group.

96: When the rest of the group arrived they decided to stay for lunch. The place was small, but grandmother prepared some nice dishes!

97: The cat takes care of the few remainders we left.

99: That’s what rice looks like from close-up. Could be any other grain…

99_1: Cut-off rice plants laid out in the sun to dry.

99_2: Rice laid out in the sun to dry…

99_2a_Henning: We passed one last viallge. At the entrance we found this stone. The inscription reads: 泰山石敢當, Taishan Shigandang. The stories and fairy tales differ a bit, but mostly there’s a famous doctor in it, which was successful in defeating either various diseases or even ghosts, which in ancient times could actually mean the same. Links with various interpretations are:




In the end it is important that the stone serves as kind of protection for the villages against ghosts or other adversenesses.

99_2a_YuFeng: A house of the village.

99_2b_Henning: A daring look into one of the houses. In the main room right behind the main I often saw a table in the back and on it a clock exactly like this. Seems to be local style.

99_3: The mountains we crossed in the back, only a few hundred meters left to the meeting point…

99_4: …with our bus.

The bus tour back to Shanghai proved to be extremely lengthy. Large parts of a highway towards Hangzhou were under constuction so that we ever and ever again had to detour. We left the mountain area around 15:00, but reached Shanghai only around 22:00.

Anyway, was worth the ride!

Categories: Shanghai

Originally Created: 10/29/2005 06:02:39 PM
Last Edited: 10/30/2005