A China Travel Holiday Special... MEET THE GROOMS! Episode 3: Ringing in the New Year in Anhui

Culture | by Aimee Groom
Posted: December 23rd, 2010 | Updated: January 27th, 2011 | Comments
[showtime] The intrepid Aimee Groom (aka DFH) is on holiday in the UK and France, but in her absence we'll MEET THE GROOMS! Think of it a China Travel Reality TV holiday special (without the TV). So, without further ado, please Meet John and Lesley Groom, the backpackers with a bus pass. In December 2008, this intrepid pair of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Anhui, Taiwan, Fujian, Guizhou and Jiangsu. >>> (Click here for previous episodes of MEET THE GROOMS.) Huangshan, anhui Sent: Sun, January 4, 2009 11:05:29 AM Subject: Travels in China cont’d DFH is still alive so we don't have to listen to Chinese radio. We have finally made it to the holy mountain… we must have seen every one of the thousand islands first. Then drove to a wonderful village called Hong Cun where we celebrated New Year’s Eve by drinking two bottles of French white wine and ordering a whole chicken boiled in a pot which we cut up with a penknife and a chopstick (not easy!). There were a few fireworks and firecrackers but really they are saving it all for Chinese New Year. It is extremely cold but the villagers over come this by getting a big wooden or cardboard box, or even a half-barrel, and putting a wok of burning charcoal in the bottom with a metal grill over it. They then sit with their feet on the grill and a blanket over their legs to keep the heat in. It's amazing they don't burn themselves. In fact in the restaurant we ate in on New Year’s Eve Granny was sitting toasting her feet in a barrel just inside the door as we went in! On New Year’s day an old dear set up a table and chairs for us by the village pond and allowed us to go and buy food elsewhere. We then sat there eating our breakfast whilst hordes of Chinese tourists took photos of us—we’ll be in photo albums all over China. There was a minor international incident when we pulled off the main road up a track, partly to see the scenery and also to have a pee. There were a couple of pens of reindeer, which we stopped to look at. When we went to leave, the road was blocked by a wheelbarrow and a barrel with a large group of Chinese from a building site who clearly did not want us to leave. Being Brits we were prepared to fight our way out. However we decided on diplomacy and sent FCUK out to negotiate and locked the car doors! He must have told them that there were three black belts in the car and that even the old woman had a blue belt as they smiled shook hands and moved the wheel barrow. We think they were just curious as to what we were doing on their patch as they clearly did not see many westerners. We stopped for lunch in a restaurant where we were served by China’s equivalent to Stacey Slater. Some of us also took the opportunity to buy silly woolen hats for the mountain. We finally arrived at the foot of the mountain and elected to go up by cable car rather than walk up.There's a surprise!! If it was cold at the bottom it was bitter at the top and we needed all the clothing we had. It was well worth it—this place is spectacular. We have seen nothing like it before; a mountain about 2000 metres high with numerous peaks all linked with walkways and steps. Have to get up at 6:00 a.m tomorrow to hopefully see the sunrise. Meanwhile there is still a bit of a problem with respect for older people as the kids sent us to bed at 8.30 p.m one night. We did however manage to get an age concession on the cable car. A few little things: At the start of the motorway we saw a sign saying: "Scelerosis shoulder driving ban" In the toilets there is a notice saying “stand closer to the urinals”. They have got a point as sometimes it looks as though they have been having target practice from 6 feet away. Lastly everywhere in China in parks public places squares, behind offices and blocks of flats, there are exercise machines for public use. This tends to be negated by people drying their washing on them and padlocking their bicycles and scooters to them. Will tell you about the sunrise in due course. John.
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