Location: Jiuqu River, Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province, China
You may not know this about me, dear reader, but I consider myself to be a woman of inherent paradoxes. One of these paradoxes, thankfully, K and I share. Despite my intense love for adventure and the way in which I passionately seek encounters with new places, people and ideas; I absolutely hate surprises. Now I admit, a little spontaneity can be good for the soul. I’m not saying a weekend getaway or an unexpected gift can’t be pleasant every now and again. However, I am a person who largely wants to have some semblance of knowledge about how she will be spending her days. Will I be climbing mountains, visiting ancient temples, trekking through forests, or sitting in front of my T.V. binge watching episodes of Game of Thrones? Do I need to buy popcorn or pack an overnight bag with hiking gear and galoshes? I simply want to be prepared.
I think this is where China and I sometimes don’t get along. China demands constant flexibility. It expects me to be ready for anything- day or night, rain or shine.
A few weeks ago, we were informed of yet another unexpected holiday- Clear and Bright Festival. This includes Tomb Sweeping Day, when families will go to pay respects to their ancestors by cleaning and delivering gifts to their burial sites. The remainder of the festival is to celebrate the coming of Spring. Although the increase in temperatures and presence of new greenery was a welcome change around here, K and I were mostly pleased to hear that we would be getting a 5 extra days off school. Being pretty exhausted recently, we happily decided to make no plans. None.
Of course, that didn’t last as we were swept up into China’s last minute travel excursions. Digging baby bamboo and wood mushrooms, you say? Meeting prominent community members? A parade of enormous 5-course meals? Of course! These things wouldn’t be the same without our resident foreigners. We went a tad begrudgingly at first, but then we were told that we would we spending 2 days bamboo rafting at Wuyi Mountain. We couldn’t help but feel a creeping sense of enthusiasm. Thanks to the lines and crowding during National Day, we hadn’t gotten to attempt the region’s most popular tourist activity on our last visit.
The Jiuqu (Nine Bend) River is the site of the rafting, and the stream weaves its way through several prominent cliffs. Local fisherman navigate the currents in the traditional way using Xinchun Bamboo Rafts that have been used for transport in the area for over 1000 years. The day that we visited, it had been raining continuously, and the 6 of us piled onto the boat, awkwardly wearing giant yellow ponchos and carrying fish food to feed the coy that swarm the shallow waters.
The rain painted a picture of majesty that made us feel insignificant. The mist hanging over the verdant peaks created an otherworldly scene that is impossible to describe in words. I think the photos speak for themselves.
What can I say? It was amazing. And totally worth it. Nothing like China to show you how important it is to expand your comfort zone.
Hope you all get to try something new soon,