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Racking Up Some Sights: Giant Buddha, Rich Man’s Gardens, And The Sacred Mountain

Days 136-138; Dec. 1st-3rd; Shanghai – Nanjing, Jiangsu – Lishui, Jiangsu – Qingyang, Anhui; 29,771km-30,719km

A Brief Look At Our Planned Itinerary

One interesting thing about this final leg of the trip is that many parts are going to mirror some of the stops we’d/I’d made on previous trips. Some of our planned stops included Wuxi, Nanjing, Zoucheng, Qingdao, and Yantai. But we also had some new places we wanted to see plus the provinces we hadn’t been to yet. Henan was actually the only province left on our list that I had never been to before, but we also wanted to go through each one on a single trip.

Breakfast in all of our gear on a stoop.

Breakfast in all of our gear on a stoop.

There was a town near Nanjing, Yangzhou, that was supposed to have some good examples of architectural preservation, and Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in southern Anhui was a must see, both for the beautiful motorcycle roads as well as it being one of China’s sacred mountains and a popular tourist destination.

We were back in the heavily industrialized east coast of China now and that mixed with the onset of winter which meant indoor heating on full blast meant a thick cover of smog had enveloped much of the area. The driving out of Shanghai and on towards Wuxi was not fun as a result. The roads were fine but all the truck traffic and the gloomy fog don’t do much for your mood.

Glimpse Of The Wuxi Giant Buddha And On To Nanjing

Why hello there!

Why hello there!

We got to the site of the giant Lingshan Buddha in Wuxi in time for a late lunch. Entrance is a bit steep at ¥200 but standing over 88 meters high (290ft.) you can see the statue from around 2km out and we had a perfectly fine view of one of the largest Buddha statues in the world from where we ate our sandwiches.

On to Nanjing from there where we again got caught in some miserable rush hour city traffic just after dark. We met up with a friend of ours, Byron, who had been studying in Nanjing for the past couple years. We went out to dinner and caught up. One strange thing I found both times I’ve been to Nanjing is that there seem to be more fast food places around the city than any other city I’ve been to in China. Really strange. We avoided those though preferring instead some Italian near the student district where Byron was.

Twice Over The Yangtze River

Group photo at the entrance to the He Gardens in Yangzhou

Group photo at the entrance to the He Gardens in Yangzhou

The next day we went on to Yangzhou. Byron had just bought himself a little 125cc Chinese motorcycle and was looking for an excuse to take it out so he joined us on the road, a little over 100km to the city. Half the time we spent trying to get out of Nanjing meaning that the difference in size between our bikes was of little importance.

We got to Yangzhou by the early afternoon and grabbed a bite of some Hunan food for lunch. After about 20 minutes arguing with a security guard who wouldn’t let us park our bikes in the scenic spot parking lot (we got his superior to come over and when he heard what the commotion was about he laughed it off and said it would be fine) we went into one of the garden courtyard mansions around the city.

The He gardens (the “e” in He is a soft “e” so not pronounced the pronoun he/she) made for a nice little walk, similar to the gardens of Suzhou but much less crowded which was nice. Some of the rooms had kept the setup of their previous tenants, with early 20th century, European furnishings. It was nice to see it as it was though they were a bit sparse on explanations as we tried to decipher what was authentic and what the curators just thought would make sense.

After packing the bikes back up and sorting out a faulty spark plug problem with Byron’s bike, we headed back out of the city. Took a different route back across the Yangtze River. Our first crossing out of Nanjing took us across a bridge while this time, with the sun quickly setting, we took a ferry. Soon after the ferry we reached the intersection where Byron turned off to Nanjing and we continued south now to make our way towards Anhui province and Yellow Mountain.

A Great Trip To The Sacred Mountain

The approach to Yellow Mountain

The approach to Yellow Mountain

We sort of cut our own path through Jiangsu province, avoiding expressways to Yellow Mountain. The national road we were on though widened out and we could make a pretty good pace the rest of the day, eventually stopping in a little town that looked like it was just being built up.

We continued on our somewhat improvised route towards the sacred mountain the next day which turned into some really great riding. We cut through little villages, went on a road that was raised above what must have been a flood plain of the Yangtze as we weave through some fertile farming areas. We then got on some nice national and provincial roads that took us all the way to the scenic spot with some beautifully winding mountain roads.

We drove as far as we could to the mountain before having to pay for entry and managed to get some good views nonetheless. Seems like December is a good time to visit, with very little crowds, cheaper offseason tickets, and some beautiful Autumn colors decorating the countryside.

Turned back up north (this was the last time on the whole trip that we would be heading in a southerly direction) and started to make our way out of the mountains, capping our day off with a beautiful mountain ride around Taiping lake just as the sun was starting to set.

About Buck

Buck, originally from New York, first came to China in 2006 traveling with some friends and immediately fell in love with the country, returning frequently including a semester studying at Tsinghua University in 2009. He finally moved to Beijing after graduating from the University of Toronto in 2010. He has a passion for adventure and travel, completing numerous long distance motorcycling and hiking trips around the U.S., Canada, and China including a circumnavigation of the U.S. (13,840km) and a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (3,500km). When he's not wandering (and sometimes when he is), Buck works as a web developer and marketing consultant in Beijing.