Jiangxi Province: Had a nice long 8 hour sleep last night here in Xiao Likeng in Jiangxi Province, afraid of the mosquitoes because of the countryside, but the sleep last night was peaceful enough with the windows wide opened and sound of cascading water outside all night long as the room was just next to the fast flowing canals. There doesn't seem to be too much to do here so most inhabitants are asleep before 9pm, which you can tell by the lights all going off. Villagers walk around at night by bring along torch lights as there are no street lighting. What do you expect from a little village like this, right?
So here I am waking up at 6:30am, ready and packed up to go. The good thing about packing light is that I can check out of the inn I was staying in and could just go around the village to take pictures of the morning activities. Other than kids walking to school, the majority of villagers crowd around the pavillion square in the morning. There is a motorcycle with a big basket on its back full of chicken, and 2 guys with large chunks of pork, presumably you ask for a certain size and he will cut it to scale. It was not busy like a typical market, so I guess its just catering to the few hundred that live here.
0815hrs Jiangwan, Jiangxi Province N29.37054 E118.04676: Met up with my motorcycle driver at 0730hrs sharp, and this guy has been a good tour guide (Mr Yu, mobile number: 1387 0330 588). On a cold and misty Friday morning, he first stopped me at a concealed lookout on the road, to take a nice lanscape view of Wengkou Village. He was probably surprised to see a guy with 3 cameras. Took a couple of photos of the village situates at a bend of the river, the wind still calm so you see perfect reflection. Too bad for the thin fog, but i took many photos from the same spot.
Then it was back on the motorcycle as a pillion rider without a helmet. I was staring at my driver's standard issue chinese square top hair cut all the time while he tells me about how the Wuyuan county used to be Anhui and how the current president Hu Jintao is an Anhui boy.
The ride to Jiangwan was nice and cool. Me and my GR Digital were rather active, shooting the roadside lifestyle. An old woman was pushing her grandson or great grand son on the main road in the morning. By the way, my part time tour guide's recommendation is to come during Mid April as the rapeseed plant flowers during that time and there are flowers aplenty to see.
0833hrs Jiangwan, Jiangxi Province: Nothing much to see in this place, but they charge entrance fee anyway to get in. The town next to the river is full of new buildings built in the old architecture, nothing to stop and shoot.
Jiangwan itself seems to be famous for a large temple and the fact that Jiang Zemin, the previous president came over to say good luck to some students. Wandered through the small streets and nothing of note. The only thing interesting was a bunch of old locals crowding around an old well and arguing with each other in the local dialect.
The next stop would be up the hills and alond the valley to Jiangling rice terraces. The road passes through Xiaoqi village but the tour buses there says to me I should avoid it. Which is a good thing because as the road climbs up to Jiangling, the scenery becomes more and more surreal. The weather could be a little more cooperative, with the haze clouding the view, requiring contrast adjustment in lightroom, but the views were nice. A valley surrounded by high mountains while a couple of clusters of white houses on the valley floor. Another place for 35mm lenses, anything wider and there will be a lack of detail. I asked the driver to stop the motorcycle at every bend while I got off to take a couple of frames. Wanted it to come out well so it was on 0EV and +0.7EV bracketing. Well worth the trip for this view.
After Jiangling, I'm off to Qinghua village, at least 20km away. Unfortunately once we left Jiangling terraces, it started to rain. I tucked beneath the cycle raincoat, but still drenched from shorts down. Decided instead to cancel the trip if its going to be raining the whole day. Asked the driver to make a detour back to Wuyuan city. Its not even noon yet so there will be time to catch the last bus today to Huangshan city (Tunxi). If i remember well, tomorrow will be raining too. I guess I better look for something to do in Huangshan city tomorrow then.
1133hrs Wuyuan North Bus Station, Jiangxi Province: Got here all drenched. Paid the driver 100RMB for roughly 50km of travel and a little bit of tour guiding. Nice guy. Wanted to give him more to spoil the market some more but he wouldn't take it.
The next bus to Huangshan is at 1240hrs. The cost is still 34RMB like yesterday and this time the ticket comes attached with what looks like an insurance certificate. A mini one at that. Don't know what it says about the bus driving on the way back! Yesterday's trip here gave no reassurance. The driver was definitely very experienced nagivating the tight roads! I'm sitting at the bus station with my jacket spread over a chair to dry and my shoes as well. Will need to change into new dry socks soon as they were all wet from the rain.
1641hrs Tunxi, Anhui province: Back in Huangshan city, and have managed to check into the Youth Hostel just to the left and across the road from the railway station. A room cost 140RMB and there are towels in there this time. The room comes with ample power points to recharge but what I am after today is to dry out all my bags drenched from the morning in the rain on a motorcycle. My thinktank camera bag was drenched from the bottom so the cameras are wet. Lucky it is not one of those consumer models which should be soaked by now.
Having lunch at a small local restaurant by the train station. Understandably it is empty, no one really eats at 5 pm i guess. But for me I have not had a proper breakfast and lunch yet except for some cereal bars and 2 bananas.
Out for lunch-dinner near the train station at a small chinese shop. They surprisingly have an english menu but I try my luck ordering with my chinese. Ordered a chili chicken dish and wild ferns, which is actually quite nice. They seem to cook with plenty of red vinegar and soyasauce here.
Tomorrow will be a day for the old villages around Yixian town. Was thinking of grabbing a public bus there but the hostel also does day tours for 180RMB and I guess it might be worth it as the entrances charges to those UNESCO sanctioned villages are quite steep. In the mean time, will take a break back at the hostel and dry up my shoes and bags.
*end of Day 2 post*