After writing and learning about Chinese artwork in the independent research project I conducted in Beijing, I found that much of Chinese traditional art depicts the beauty of China’s vast and magnificent mountains, as well as bamboo, rivers, etc. Even on the back of China’s Renminbi currency, one can find sunrises etched over mountain tops and water rushing between karsts. I feel that it is a traditional image of China that many Westerners hold a preconceived notion of, yet have not experienced, as many expats find themselves living in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, etc. I feel fortunate to have been able to see some of this natural beauty for myself last weekend when I went hiking and kayaking in Ninghai, which is about a 4 hour drive outside of Shanghai.
We began our hike following a trail surrounded by waterfalls and lush greenery (and of course about 50,000 mosquitoes that all wanted to bite me).
As we continued to ascend, the trail opened up to see more of the surrounding mountains, but we were not nearly at the top.
We passed by an area where locals grow tea. I was even surprised to see how many wind turbines were built in the surrounding area.
As we continued on our way, the luscious trees became less and less prominent and the trail opened up into a steep and very rocky environment with bad footing.
We persevered to make it to the peak, only to witness one of the most satisfying views I’ve ever experienced! Mountain came after mountain, seemingly infinitely folding behind each other until reaching the touch of the sun.
Descending the mountain, we passed through a forest of bamboo. This was one of my favorite parts of the hike, as I’ve never had the experience of hiking through bamboo before. To me, it felt like a very distinct “China experience”. The bamboo was so green, and much thicker and stronger than I expected it to be.
The next day we had the opportunity to go kayaking, which was both beautiful and an absolute blast. The sunburn I received was 100% worth it!
While I will always consider myself a city girl, having opportunities in China like those of the past weekend, or climbing the Great Wall, have really helped me realize an underlying interest I have had in hiking. I love the exercise aspect of it, but even more so getting to see beautiful parts of China that I feel can be so often overlooked. I am looking forward to pursuing more opportunities in this regard when I take off for my spring break travels this week!