Anhui – Zhejiang – Shanghai 2019, Day 1: Saigon To Huangshan Tunxi Airport

Only 9 days before had I decided to go on another trip to China with my twin sis, this time to 3 provinces/cities of Anhui, Zhejiang, Shanghai. My main visits would be Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Yanguan Ancient Town.

This was another trip that required no individual visa (like my previous trip to Hunan and Hubei). The 4-hour non-stop flight stopped at the Huangshan Tunxi International Airport at 9PM. Some local officials with banners saying that this was the first flight from Ho Chi Minh City. They also gave us some Chinese and Vietnamese flags. I learned that this trip was sponsored by China. That was why this tour of 6 days was so cheap. With the same amount of money, I might have bought the plane tickets only.

I was asked in English by some customs officers how many times I’ve been to China. This time I didn’t have to scan my finger prints any more. It was my easiest Chinese customs check ever. I loved Huangshan!

Because of taking photos for some local newspapers or promotion(?), it took us all an hour to get out of the airport. Around 30 mins later, I could lie down on my bed and call it a night.

Outside of my window I saw a pine tree with the top turning to the the color of fall. I hoped to see more autumn leaves on this Jiangnan trip.

Bắc Hành Tạp Lục

Hôm nay đọc giới thiệu về Bắc Hành Tạp Lục của Nguyễn Du thì thấy hành trình đi sứ TQ hồi xưa nên bỗng dưng mình nghĩ có dịp đi theo lộ trình đó cũng hay á.

Đường đi của sứ bộ Nguyễn Du (1813-1814):

Nguyễn Du đi qua cửa Nam Quan ngày mồng 6 tháng 4 năm Quí Dậu (1813), đến Yên Kinh ngày 4 tháng 10 năm Quí Dậu (1813) và về qua Nam Quan ngày 29 tháng 3 năm Giáp Tuất (1814).
06-04 Quý Dậu: đi qua cửa Nam Quan (1813).
08-04 Quý Dậu: đến Ninh Minh Châu.
02-05 Quý Dậu: đến thành phủ Ngô Châu.
18-07 Quý Dậu: đến Trường Sa, tỉnh lỵ Hồ Nam.
30-07 Quý Dậu: đến Võ Xương, tỉnh lỵ Hồ Bắc.
09-08 Quý Dậu: từ Hán Khẩu ra đi.
22-08 Quý Dậu: ra khỏi địa phận huyện An Dương, tỉnh Hà Nam.
04-10 Quý Dậu: đến Yên Kinh (1813).
24-10 Quý Dậu: từ Yên Kinh khởi hành về nước (1813).
02-11 Quý Dậu: qua tỉnh An Huy xuống Hồ Bắc.
25-12 Quý Dậu: đến huyện Lâm Tương, tỉnh Hồ Nam.
30-01 Giáp Tuất: đến huyện Kỳ Dương, tỉnh Hồ Nam.
04-02 Giáp Tuất: đến Quế Lâm, tỉnh Quảng Tây.
29-03 Giáp Tuất: về qua Nam Quan (1814).

Thần Nông Giá

Nửa đêm lên giường bỗng dưng nghĩ đến địa điểm tiếp theo ở Trung Quốc mà mình sẽ đi tự túc là Thần Nông Giá (thuộc tỉnh Hồ Bắc). Tên vừa hay ho, mà rừng cây thuốc quý này nọ cũng là lạ.

Vừa check thử Thần Nông thì ra cũng xem như là thủy tổ người Việt. Vậy chuyến đi sẽ càng thêm ý nghĩa ha.

Hunan – Hubei, Day 6: Wuhan And Flying Home

This was the last day of our trip. We visited three sites of Wuhan called Yellow Crane Tower (which was made famous by poetry, Hubei Provincial Museum, and East Lake.

Two hours at Yellow Crane Tower seemed like a waste of time. I’d prefer more time at Wulingyuan or Fenghuang Old Town.

I liked the visit to the museum which made me understand more about the Chinese culture. Though I saw so many Chinese students around the beverage vending machines than in the showrooms.

After that, we had a chance to go around East Lake. Unlike Jingzhou, the minubus took us around the lake for 30 mins. As I spotted the handsome driver, my tour group kept joking about me and him. Though he was 9 years younger, he said I looked like 27. We talked a bit. He asked if I was Malaysian. And after a stop, when I switched to the seat next to him, he nicely started a small conversation with me. He asked which city I was from and if it was near the beach. Ashin said that 521 was better than 520. I couldn’t agree more.

After 3 flights with China Southern Airlines this time, I somehow felt that their service was worse than 10 years ago. We had to wait for a while on board and they didn’t give us any water to drink. Unlike 10 years ago, I even had a meal before the plane departed.

After midnight, I’d be home safe and sound.

Hunan – Hubei, Day 5: Historical Jingzhou And Walking Street Of Jianghan Road

We departed Changde, Hunan for Jingzhou, Hubei in the morning. In this historical city, we had a chance to go around the wall on an electric car and it was a great ride even though some of us disliked it.

Two members of our group decided that they would do some cosplaying. One dressed as an ancient girl, and one dressed as an ancient general.

The the tour bus took us to Wuhan. After dinner, we walked to see the busiest district called Jianghan. The walking street was filled with branded stores and even a night market. We had some fun here. I also tried the fruit tea of a chain milk tea store called Idrink.

I found that today was May 20 which was kind of a Valentine’s Day in China because 520 in Chinese sounded like ‘I love you.’ Today would have been worse if my friend and I hadn’t made fun of the day. We even took a sweet picture with the Chinese intern guide.

Hunan – Hubei, Day 4: Fenghuang Old Town And Changde

What I feared the most was the weather as forecast. It rained in the morning again today, and my exploration of Fenghuang Old Town was disrupted somehow. Because I wore the Thai flip flop, I walked slowly and slipped when I got off a boat. I borrowed an umbrella because my jacket wasn’t completely waterproof.

The stoned bridge, the most famous part of the town, was wet so I only stepped on several stones and didn’t get to the middle. However, the boat trip was quite good.

I tried a boba milk tea and thought it was as good as the Vietnamese one.

After lunch, we departed Fenghuang for Changde. After checking in, all of us (except 1) walked to the supermarket called Lian Hua. It was quite big. I bought some gifts for my family and friends. What I loved about China’s summer is the peach season. I’d buy some on the last day to bring back to Vietnam.

Hunan – Hubei, Day 3: Wulingyuan And Fenghuang Old Town

Some people disliked waking up early, but I thought it was okay on a trip when we had to check out. At least, I didn’t have to fight for breakfast like in Taiwan. However, the food was just so so.

We passed a sidewalk market on the way to the Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After taking a bus, we reached the elevator station. Though it is the world’s highest outdoor elevator, the Bailong Elevator only took 1 min 20 seconds to reach its top floor. There we enjoyed a fantastic view of Tianzi Mountain.

And we then walked to Tian Xia Di Yi Qiao, also known as the Number 1 Bridge Under the Heaven. I tried squeezing in with other people to take a pic and heard some guys said ‘mei’ and ‘piao lang’ which I replied with ‘xie xie’.

Then it rained cats and dogs while we were looking for the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.

The tour guides and leader couldn’t find two of the tour members on the way out. They were lost because they couldn’t see the flag due to umbrellas. Luckily, I could spot them on the way back searching.

After lunch, the bus took us to Fenghuang Old Town. We had dinner, then walked around the town for only 45 mins. That’s why my friend and I decided to come back later.

At 10PM, 6 of us took a cab to Fenghuang. Here we tried stinky tofu and enjoyed the night.

I was looking for boba milk tea, but I didn’t order because the menu was in Chinese and I wasn’t really thirsty. At midnight, we returned to the hotel.

[Video] Inside Bailong, The Highest Outdoor Elevator in The World, Zhangjiajie, Hunan (China):

Hunan – Hubei, Day 2: Tianmen Mountain

We met up with the Chinese guide, Ms. Liu, at Zhangjiajie Airport. Then we headed to Days Hotel nearby and called it a night.

After breakfast, we started for the Tianmen Mountain cable car station. But there was some ticket problem that made us wait for more than an hour before we could get in the station. After lining up for another 30 mins, we took an 8-people cabin. The longest passenger cableway of high mountains in the world took about 25 mins to reach the upper station.

[Video] Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Ride, Zhangjiajie, Hunan (China):

The Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk was far from scary or long. It required no bravery at all.

Then we took the escalator down to Tianmen Cave, then another escalator down to the minibus station. Later the intern guide, He Da Sheng, said that he walked down the 99-step staircase instead. And he reached the station earlier than we did. I guessed that he ran.

We took the minibus to get down. The 11km road with 99 bends made my friend dizzy and she even threw up.

I wished I had had more time here. I didn’t have a chance to see the glass bridge. It should have been more terrifying than the glass pathway.

We had a late lunch in the afternoon, then the tour bus took us to some shopping places like herbs and gemstone stores. Then we came to Xibu Old Street and had an early dinner. Inside the restaurant, I saw an interesting custom by the Miao ethnic people.

[Video] Chinese Wine Tasting Custom of Miao People in Hunan (China)

Luckily, I could walk a bit around this place before it dawned because my friend was too tired to come back in the evening.

Hunan – Hubei, Day 1: Flying To Zhangjiajie, Transit In Shenzhen

After 10 years, I flew with China Southern Airlines again to China. 2 flights today would finally bring me to Zhangjiajie.

The travel group leader instructed us so we spent 45 mins at the customs clearance. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought. We didn’t have to collect our checked baggage so it was faster. Shenzhen Bao’an Intl Airport was bigger than what I thought. However, its design didn’t impress me much. 6 hours of waiting here was kinda a waste of time. Saigontourist should have brought us something to eat for dinner because the inland plane only gave us some snack.

At least, our domestic Chinese flight wasn’t delayed. I saw the Wuxi one at the same gate was delayed from 6:50pm until after 9pm. We only had to wait for 4 flights to land before being able to fly from the same runway.

We landed in the Zhangjiajie Hehua Intl Airport after midnight. Luckily, we’d still have some sleep at the hotel before walking in the mountain area tomorrow.