A Trip to the Bright Moon Mountains                               ¤ Paul Gillespie

    Suping and I had travelled from Beijing to Xian and Wuhan. We were now in Su's hometown of Yichun and staying at her mother's house. We had spent a lot of time in cities.

    Su's mother's apartment is very spacious and comfortable. The bedrooms, lounge and dining room are very large but, unlike houses in Australia, the kitchen and bathroom are very small. In Australian houses the kitchens are getting bigger and bigger.

    We spent some time looking around Yichun, walking and shopping. After a week I was keen to see some other things and in particular, the countryside.

    When we were at the temple on the hill overlooking the town I could see some blue mountains in the distance. I pointed them out to Su and suggested that we travel over to see some mountains.

    The next morning we got up a little earlier than usual and packed some lunch. We walked to the country bus station which was just around the corner from Su's mother's house. It was a busy spot with lots of buses of various sizes parked awaiting their customers.

    Su bought two tickets to the Bright Moon Mountain Park and the ticket seller suggested that we take a seat and wait for our bus. We had just sat down when we were called to get on our bus.

    It was a small bus and about twelve people climbed aboard. The bus travelled very slowly through the town but once out onto the country road it went much faster. The countryside and the little villages we passed through were very beautiful. Groups of people sat together in the streets of the villages talking or playing chess. They all seemed very relaxed. Farmers ploughed the fields with their oxen and others planted or gathered their rice crops.

    Soon we were the only two passengers remaining on the bus. I could move from one side to the other to take pictures.

    Eventually the bus came to the end of the road and we got out. Magnificent mountains rose straight up ahead of us. No wonder the bus didn't go any further.

    The tops of the mountains were shrouded in mist and cloud so we couldn't see their full height. Waterfalls cascaded down their sides and a lovely stream flowed beside us as we walked.

    At first we went through a bamboo forest on a beautiful path made of pebbles embedded in concrete. The trees on either side of the path were tall and slender and their trunks a very pale green. In fact the whole atmosphere around us was one of greenness and growth and an abundance of water. This was a great contrast to the Australia we had just left which was in drought.

    After walking for about ten minutes we saw a sign to a temple and following the sign we diverted off the main path and crossed the river. The track then went into heavy bush. It was a solitary spot. After a while we saw a stone stairway leading up to a tiny ancient temple. The temple and stairway were surrounded by lush vegetation. We were the only people there. The only sound was the babble of water flowing over the rocks in the stream below. It was truly magic after the crowds and noise of the city streets and tourist spots which we had experienced over the last few weeks.

    After enjoying this beautiful spot we walked back and rejoined the main path. We crossed the river again, this time on a suspension bridge. Now the path became much steeper. Soon we could hear the roar of falling water and once out of the forest the most magnificent waterfall appeared before us. Su pointed and said 'that is a waterfall!' She was making a comparison with waterfalls which I had proudly shown her in Australia, which paled in comparison to this.

    We were drenched with spray from the waterfall as we passed by. Immediately after the waterfall the stairs became very steep. And we had to climb carefully as the steps were wet. As we climbed we were rewarded with distant views of fields and villages in the valley below. More waterfalls appeared above us. These were the top stages of the one we had just passed.

    Eventually we found a nice rock platform between two waterfalls where we sat and had our lunch. This must have been a popular spot as soon more people came and sat near us. For us, and the others, this was as high as we got, although we could see the path heading ever upwards. It was tempting to go on but we knew we had to head back down to catch the last bus home.

    When we reached the bottom of the mountain we sat for a while in the bamboo forest enjoying the silence and the embrace of the pale green trees.

    Soon we were back on the bus and into the noisy streets of the city. It was a beautiful interlude and showed me another aspect of China - a land of great contrasts.

    July 2005

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