Tourism, craziness and Simon

Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, September 29, 2007

As soon as we arrived to Huangshan we were surrounded by people wanting to drive us, find us hotels, sell us hats or offer advice. It was one of the most overwhelming things I have experienced. We basically had to run away to get away from all of these people to try to figure out where we were supposed to go. We had an address for the Hostel we were staying at, however no one seemed to know where it was at.
The problem was, you come in to the city of Huangshan, however the mountain is about a two hour bus ride away from the mountain. Now around the mountain there is a couple of towns that you can stay at before you climb the mountain. We finally figured this out and climbed on a bus that took us to the town of Tunxi. Supposedly where our hostel was located.
However, once we arrived there we were greeted by Mr. Hu who spook fluent English. He tried to convince us that our hostel was bad and that we needed to stay in his hotel and eat his food. We finally convinced him that we just wanted to buy bus tickets. (We wanted to buy are tickets out of Huangshan before the rush of people arrived and they were sold out.) He offered to drive us for free to the bus station. The bus station turned out to be his hotel. The entire town of Tunxi is based solely on tourism. Every business works together to try to make as much money as possible. So by us buying tickets at this hotel Mr. Hu was going to make a profit off of those tickets. Utterly exhausted we wearily bought the tickets, praying that they were legit. Knowing that we needed to get rid of Mr. Hu we ran across the street to a hostel that was part of the chain that our hostel was from. Now the people who ran the hostel didnt speak English but we were able to talk to them and understand the situation better. Our hostel was in Huangshan City which was a 50 kuai taxi ride away. However, Tunxi the town we were in was closest to the entrance for climbing the mountain. So we cancelled our reservations and choose to stay in this hostel here. The people in the hostel were amazing. They tried really hard to make us feel at home, find us things to do and to make sure we were taken care of.

We settled into our rooms and decided to go to the Monkey park!! The people at the hostel told us they would get a bus to take us there. Our bus turned out to be a man with a car. He drove us out to this park. Where we climbed up the side of a hill, at the top there were all these Huangshan short tailed monkeys. China doesn't really have safety concerns and you could literally reach down and touch this monkeys. Actually at one point one of the monkeys looked like they were going to attack me when I took a picture of it. Besides seeing awesome monkeys it was so nice to get out of the city and breathe unpolluted air! We walked back down the hill and we hard this loud techno remixed music. We came around the corner and realized it was our "bus driver." As we reached the car he started to turn it down and we asked him to turn it up louder, we rolled down the windows and drove down the road dancing to techno.

Once we arrived back in the town, we decided we needed money so we went to search for a cash machine. This is when we met Simon. Simon could aslo speak fluent English (though he had a thick British accent). I must say it was very interesting hearing a Chinese man speak English with a British accent! We were very weary of talking with Simon after our experience with Mr. Hu. However, we continued talking to him, he led us to the right ATM and starting giving advice of climbing Mt. Huangshan. We agreed to meet him at his restuarant later for dinner. It suffices to say that Simon was a blessing.

We went to his restaurant, ordered some INCREDIBLE food! POTATOES!!! It had been so long since I had potatoes. haha. We talked to him more and learned that his business was helping English speakers plan their trip up Mt. Huangshan. He gave us a route to follow, told us the best places to go, gave us advice on what to wear, and gave us a place to put our extra things so we wouldnt have to carry everything up. He also gave us his phone number so we could call if we needed someone to talk to our hotel in Chinese. He then told us to come back for breakfast so he could make his famous bananna pancakes and get us a driver to take us to the gate of the mountain. This trip would not have been made possible without Simon.

The next morning we arrived at his restaurant again. He had the pancakes, coffee and orange juice ready for us!! And yes the pancakes were SPECTACULAR!!! Playing on the TV was Micheal Jackson. We had to explain to him the meaning behind the song "Smooth Criminal." He gave us more advice and went with us to the gate of the mountain to make sure we got there alright. There are very few times that I have met a person with such compassion and heart. We were beyond lucky to have found him before we climbed. We promised to return for dinner.

We then started on our journey up the moutain....
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