Bái Shuǐ Jiān Mountain, Lin’an, Zhejiang Province, China
Barry and I are getting bolder about traveling in China. We’ve been rather intimidated about the Chinese language – spoken and written. Only now have I finally been able to say, “Cèsuŏ zài năr? ” (“Where is the toilet?”) and have some people understand me.
However, last Friday, which is a non-teaching day for me, we decided to take the city bus from our campus to the main bus station and ask a student along the way to recommend somewhere we could go by bus and be able to return the same day. We met Cookie, a tea culture major, and although she doesn’t live in Lin’an, she asked others for their recommendations.
The consensus of the local people was that they didn’t think the ordinary towns near here would be interesting to us (although almost anything is interesting when you can’t read the signs and so need to make up stories all the time). However, Cookie took us to a travel agency so we could get discounted tickets and guided us first by taxi, then two buses.
We found ourselves at the entrance to Bái shuǐ (“white water”) Jiān (this can mean “pig of 3 years,” “Strong, firm, resolute,” “difficult; hard; hardship,” and 22 other meanings including the one I’m electing “sound of moving water,” so the place name may be “The Sound of White Moving Water Mountain,” or “Rushing White Water Mountain”; both are poetic names even if my translations aren’t correct.
Barry and I found ourselves in the cool of a mountain of tall bamboo forests about an hour from Lin’an. We arrived just before noon and were the only Westerners (practically the only people, if you can believe that) for the several hours that we walked the tile and stone paths along a bubbling stream as bamboo harvesters brought freshly cut stocks down the steep trails.
The Bái Shuǐ Jiān mountain area honors a man who was supposed to become a Chinese prime minister but who instead returned to his family, studied medicine, traveled all over China collecting medicinal herbs, and then cultivated the plants himself. He became known as a very ethical and knowledgeable doctor who could cure unusual and seemingly hopeless illnesses.
The park reminded me of Maui’s Iao Valley with the sound of the rushing stream and the shaded quiet paths.
In the summer, this park must be filled with people from Lin’an, Hangzhou, and even Shanghai seeking fun and the cool mountain air.
In the park, we also saw a functioning Buddhist monastery
Although a monk wouldn’t allow photos in the temple, I could take picture of this display:
We also went through a Chinese maze of bamboo fences, walking stones, and such trodden paths that it is doubtful anyone has ever gotten lost here.
Now tourists can also zip down a slide,
or spend hours at out-door shaded barbecue cafes.
Nestled under the trees is various areas of the park are plaques translating poems that I’m sure are beautiful in Chinese although the translations into English are muddled:
The town at the entrance to the park is fun to explore as well. It is a mixture of old, crumbling buildings as well big new dwellings.
We think the owners of the new houses may be the developers of the new activities within the park. The town also has its old walls and ancient, decaying buildings.
Barry and I spent a delightful afternoon wandering the park and the town.
On the bus on the way back to Lin’an, I said (in Chinese) when questioned that I am a teacher at the university, and they were able to understand me—and the driver even diverted the bus route to drop Barry and me off at the ZAFU West Gate!! We were back before dark and eating at our favorite restaurant on campus, the Camphor Tree.
The Chinese people we’ve met are really nice and the scenery beautiful. You can be sure that we will head out for other adventures. We wish you would join us.
Zài Jiàn & Aloha, Renée & Barry