NOTE: THE INTERNET IS SKETCHY THIS MORNING--SO I CAN'T POST PICTURES. I WILL TRY LATER--
This morning is the beginning of an exciting day, our first real day of touring! We woke and went to breakfast, got re-packed, got in our Van with a driver about 8:30 and drove 4 hours into Anhui Provice to the the town of Tong Kou for lunch. After lunch, we drove a short distance to Hong Cun.
HongCun is a Unesco World Heritage site and it is where some scenes from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon were filmed. We had to pay admission to walk around there, Min was half price, Laina was full price, because of height. We walked around this ancient town and looked at the old buildings and small streets, the houses are all whitewashed with black details-roofs, door lintels, and window ledges. Wooden lattice work in the windows and doors are also typical of the style of the town and were very intricate. Many art students sitting along canals and alley ways sketching or painting the scenery. It is one of the places which one should go to paint beautiful scenery, and the girls enjoyed watching the students sketch. There were not many (I only saw one other than us) non-Asian tourists. We walked around the town for about 2 hours and then we decided to go have a hike around a bamboo forest.
This Bamboo Forest is where scenes from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon were filmed. It's interesting, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, was not a commercial success here in China, in fact most people didn't like it, but they are milking it for all it's worth for the "Places where scenes were filmed" angle. At the bamboo forest we saw HUGE stands of Bamboo, each trunk was about 10 inches in diameter and then would shoot off into the sky until the top became very thin and flexible and the leaves would bend the tops of the bamboo. The forest of feathery looking bamboo is a lovely place to spend a warm day, it's relatively cool, and shady and the plants are graceful and beautiful to look at. We had to hike by stairs to the top of the hill, and on the way we saw butterflies, different insects (beetles, green flies, a cenipede and Mosquitoes!). It was quiet with no other tourists at the time we were hiking. After about 45 minutes of hiking, we came to...The Zipline!!!
This zipline was a thrown together operation, a seat made of cloth webbing and hung on some cables. It didn't look particularly weak or shoddy, but a bit thrown together. Jorg was nervous to go, so I agreed to go first. The ride down was quick, but not overly fast. Next was the girls' turn. Neither of them wanted to go, so Jorg and the operator struck a deal with them, they would ride together. Perfect! I could hear Laina crying at the top, but they arrived with smiles on their faces. Jorg was next and we were all safe on the other side of the valley. We began our walk down to the entrance again.
Our hotel for the night is FANTASTIC!! It's a 300 year old traditional Anhui style residence that has been functioning like a hotel for 3 years. The who structure is wood, with lattice windows and stone courtyards in the middle. It really looks like something from the movies, but in reality, the movies look something like this. We have a common area, a sleeping room and a toilet/shower just for us. There are not other guests in the hotel. Apparently, a rich businessman from Shehzhen has bought one wing of the hotel and wants that wing at his beck and call at all times, so there are times when the place is quite empty, like today. We walked around the village, which is attached to a small ancient town a bit in the valley which we didn't walk to. The hotel fixed us dinner in the courtyard and we had delicious and spicy vegetable dishes and our peaches for dessert.
The Pig Story
As we were walking around the village waiting for dinner, we passed a little house type hut. Jorg and I hear a pig grunting in the house and decided to play a little joke on the girls. We told them they should go into the hut and look and see what was inside. We told them it was fine, and they wouldn't get in trouble. Cautiously, they approached the hut and stepped inside. It was dark and their eyes hadn't adjusted to the darkness and right on cue, the pig grunted. The girls screamed and ran outside, Laina burst into tears and started berating me for being horrible and mean. Min thought it was funny and I walked into the hut with them to take a good look at the pig, who was disappointed that we were not bringing him anything to eat!