Nicholas Quirke was shattered by the time his day ended on 31 March 202. With only a few days to discover some of the city’s delights he was anxious to make an early start. Though the hotel breakfast was adequate Peng wanted to try a well known burger franchises’s plant based meat product and against his better wishes he found himself having to eat in an outlet he felt uncomfortable going into. The major challenge for the day was to to visit the Baiyunshan (White Cloud) Mountains and the plan was to ride the cable car up and take a long walk, visiting temples and taking in the lush scenery back down. It was not a good start as they found themselves walking back and forth along a stretch of road to get tickets for a mode of transport they didn’t want and when they were pointlessly queuing for a cart ride the discovery they were would have to walk back to the ticket office again proved too much for the patient Peng who, to the consternation of the other customers, shouted an expletive and stormed off in a rage! Once they were on the cable car and travelling over the abundant greenery they managed to laugh about the waste of time and enjoy the day. As the cable car rose through the mountain the modern skyline of the city materialised through the hazy skies like a ghostly metropolis and provided a haunting view that he could not stop from photographing. The temperature was a humid 28 and as he climbed the mountain through a series of temples, listening to the exotic bird song, he was reminded of being in Malaysia with his sister on the outskirts of Johor Baru when dripping with sweat they visited a Mausoleum. They stopped for another type of Chinese herbal tea and once more enjoyed the bitter taste but this time he was given a small tablet of orange peel to eat which filled his taste buds with a sweetness that took the the bitter away. Where could he get this gem of a sweet? Having negotiated their way to the summit of the first peak and then climbed to the top of the highest in the range, the 427m Moxing, they stopped for refreshment and bowl of tofu and grass jelly pudding. It was down hill from here on including a series of steps that were meant to be walked barefoot as a massage which, he couldn’t bring himself to do but the soles of his ancient All Stars were so thin he may as well have removed them. They had counted on not finding anywhere for lunch but when they arrived back at the cable car to their surprise there was a vegan outlet selling burgers and noodles. Ironically it was located next door to a famous American burger chain that he had resolved never to mention. Aside from the tropical vegetation and the ancient relic wall of the Baiyun temple the major sight on their way down to the foothill was the nengren temple which had begun its life as a hut next to Yuhong cave in 960 but was not fully fledged as a temple till 1851. The major claim to fame was a visit by Dr Sun Yat Sen and his wife Song Qing visited on 19 May 1924. It boasted a beautiful pond with fish and turtles and may notable halls where the faithful were to be seen worshipping. They decided to keep off the main road and took a path which ran alongside but to their surprise they were the only people on it. It followed the course of a babbling brook and claimed to have had many of China’s great leaders including Mao to have traversed its banks there were a number of sculptures along the route including one which after having seen it he dismissed as ‘horrible’. Nicholas was really in need of refreshment when they got back to the base and Peng found a nearby Tong Sui shop.It is a collective term for any sweet, warm soup served as a dessert at the end of a meal in Cantonese cuisine. They are a Cantonese specialty and many varieties are rarely found in other regional cuisines of China. The store specialised in ginger and the two dishes they shared, including a crushed ice mountain of ginger and a warm bowl of ginger soup with black sesame glutinous rice balls were totally delicious. Though they didn’t really need to eat before heading out on an night boat cruise along the river they somehow ended up fitting in another meal at another vegetarian restaurant that the city boasted. They also managed to find another variation of the Herbal Tea he had started to develop a taste for and had a lighthearted exchange, although in English, with the shop assistant who was sat on the floor stripping what looked like bamboo canes. The cruise along the pearl river at night gave the spectacular modern city and its towering architecture an amazing sense of glamour and they spent the whole trip out on deck taking photographs and film. It was late by the time they got back to the hotel and he had done so much walking and cycling he could barely move. Footsore, calve sore and sight sore he took to his bed and long deep sleep.
What a wonderful day, beautifully narrated and filmed as always. You needed all those meals to keep you going.
Thanks Suzy. I am glad you are still enjoying the day in a life in china. XXX Happy Easter.