Jiuxiang Scenic Area

Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
Trip End Mar 03, 2011

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Flag of China  , Yunnan Province,
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This week, school is only open on Monday and closed for the rest of the week due to students going home to celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival on Wednesday.


After getting up at 6am, I met Zhang, Jack and Chen (all my students) at the basketball courts at 7am as I was to go to Zhang's house for the day and part of Wednesday. We walked into town where we had beef rice noodles for breakfast from one of the many stalls outside.  We then headed to the bus station where we sat on the bus to Jiuxiang for about 20mins waiting for it to depart.  The seats were hard plastic and not very comfortable which helped to make the 1 hour journey to Juixang the worst journey I’ve had by bus.

The scenery/environment the bus passed through was amazing – going through the mountains and along the river.  However, enjoying the scenery was limited to brief moments when I wasn’t concentrating on being able to stay in my seat!  The seats were incredibly hard and travelling along the road with bumps, large holes, random objects in the road, no barriers at the side of the road – with steep drops either side, overtaking as many vehicles as possible, huge drains with no covers on and swerving all over the place made for a very uncomfortable journey!  For the first half of the journey, we all probably spent more time out of our seat than on it.  Amazing that these roads are even allowed to stay open!

We arrived into Jiuxiang around 9:45 and we walked down to Zhang’s house – which is an apartment in Jiuxiang’s Middle School.  His parents are both teachers at that school.  I was pleasantly surprised at how modern and big the apartment was – a shame the bed I was to sleep on was like a rock.  Zhang, Jack and Chen then proceeded to show me around the small village where we played a couple games of pool.  They then showed me around the school campus – it’s the middle school they all used to go to.  It was obvious that this school was very poor – from looking at the state of the buildings, the boys dormitory (which was very small, slept 12 and had hard beds), lack of computers and facilities.  The school is small and has around 900 students aged 14-15 years old all living on campus.  This school had to wear uniform at all times – and I found it weird that their uniform was 'army’ uniform.  Apparently, they wear this uniform because the students and their parents are very poor and it is the cheapest uniform that they can afford.  All the students have to have their hair cut the same – the boys and girls.  I spoke to a few of the Chinese English teachers who told me that the school is too poor to be able to afford a foreign teacher to teach the children English, so they asked if I would teach a couple classes the following day, which I accepted!

We ate lunch at Zhang’s house, which was delicious – rice, beef, pumpkin, cabbage, mashed peas with mashed pumpkin and mushrooms.  After lunch, his parents drove us to Jiuxiang Scenic Area – a place that’s very famous in Yunnan.  They paid for us to go in and we began to make our way around the area.  It is possibly the most amazing environment I have ever seen and I had an amazing time there.  The area is mountainous and so there was a lot of walking up and down steps.  The first area we came to was a gorge – instead of walking down around 300steps, we took a lift down the side of the gorge.  We then got into a small rowing boat where we rowed ourselves (with a guide) along the narrow river/gorge.  It was amazing with the huge, steep sides of the mountain either side of you, the sun beating down and many colourful insects – dragonflies and butterflies flying low above the river and glinting in the sunlight.

The rest of the time was spent walking on bridges, wooden walkways clinging to the side of the mountains and walking into HUGE caves that had huge stalagmites and stalactites.  It looked even more spectacular with the colourful lighting they had placed inside the caves.  We walked alongside rivers inside the caves and saw 2 amazing underground waterfalls.  At the end of the trail, we had to walk up hundreds of steps inside the mountain to get out.  Once out, we took a cable car back up the rest of the mountain to the start which allowed you to see amazing views of the area.

A short bus journey took us back to the Middle School where we had dinner at the apartment with some teachers and friends – another great meal!  After dinner I was asked if I wanted to go swimming – as I like swimming, I quickly agreed thinking that we would be going to a swimming pool in a building.  I should’ve known better though – we went swimming in a small lake close by!  It was clean though – or rather, clean enough!  Swimming was cut short though as a storm was approaching.

Back at the apartment, much of the evening was spent listening to Chinese music and playing card games.  Around 9:30pm, Zhang’s parents said that we would celebrate Mid Autumn Day a day earlier because I was there and leaving the next day.  Around 5 other teachers came over and we ate corn, roasted nuts, mooncakes, watermelon and plenty of other fruits.  I’m still not a fan of mooncakes, although I fairly liked one of the sweet mooncakes I had – what was in it....I don’t know!  However, it was a great evening playing games and having a laugh!

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