The Path of Laughing Heartily

Nicholas Quirke was filled with a sense of irony on 9 July 2020 when, on The Path of Laughing Heartily, after a long and arduous climb to the summit of Mount Wuyan; one of 3 peaks in the West Lake mountain range, having been promised panoramic views of the landscape, the tea steppes, the Qiantang river and the West lake he had reached the pinnacle which was dense with trees and foliage and all he had was glimpses of the avowed scenery. Though there was the eerily quiet and rundown Zhenzhen Temple to satisfy his effort he laughed out loud that the Path itself was quietly jeering at him for having been fooled by what he suspected was a name lost in translation. He had not started the day intending to climb or hike as the 12 km bike ride to the Meijiawu Tea Village, where he hoped to see workers in the fields and even engage in some tea picking in the centuries old plantations, had seemed like a demanding exercise in itself. he had expected, with stops to capture views along the way, to take about an hour and a half on the ride but he had not accounted for the map reference he had for the village to deposit him at a facility which, if the translation of the signs were to be believed had been a training camp for the Olympic team. The first sign that he was not where he should be was the collective shouts of voices engaged in some formal exercise and when he followed the sound there were a group of young military personnel engaged in chorusing commands and following a drill. He encountered a guy having a smoke and asked him where to get to the tea village and he was directed into the building where he found himself in a empty disused grand entrance hall and directed out the back. This didn’t look like somewhere he was supposed to be and he contacted Peng who provided him with an alternative reference.“` once he was cycling through the foothills and then dramatic formally steppes of the tea plantations were surrounding him he felt confident and elated once he had arrived at village with a thousand hear history o if growing the Longjing tea which, in an authentic as possible tea rooms he enjoyed a glass of the green tea a plate of sunflower seeds and a conversation via translator with the proprietress. he changed his plans from visiting a great museum to taking a walk along the Bamboo lined path a Yunqi which seemed a gentle walk through the bamboo forest but once he had seen the temples and shrines he was set on a path upwards. He was very pleased with himself that he found the motivation to keep going despite being Pengless. He encountered a pack of working horses on their way down who were carrying stones up the mountain, and once he was on the Path of laughing Heartily and chuckling at its utter misnomer he had to decide how to get down. he didn’t want to retrace his steps and he had no idea where either of the paths led. This was another adventure and as he saw 2 couples appear from one path, he decided that it led to some sort of civilisation and he took the route down. He was unnerved when the path seemed to reach a dead end at a fortress like wall but as he circumnavigated the intimidating concrete he found a path out into another tea plantation and village. As he set off looking for the main road it started to rain and he was fortunate enough to find a bike which provided, for the locals and his pleasure only the sight of a Laowai on a bike in the rain with an umbrella. The road bought him out to the river and from here he decided he would get a bus. He got back to the hotel after 7pm and decided to have a takeaway which Peng ordered for him. It provided a highlight of his stay for him as the food was delivered to his room by a robot. It had been a very physical day and he was relieved to shut the curtains, his eyes and go to sleep.

4 Comments

    1. Thanks Peta. I thought of you today and desperately wanted to find a Nightigale picture to ask you if you thought the Chinese might be sickened by our depiction of their ancestors. 😂😂😂 xxx

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