One of the perks of studying abroad on an established program like UCEAP is the support system that students get before and during their time abroad. UCEAP, or UC Education Abroad Program, is the study abroad program that is available to all students in the University of California system. The program directors enrolled me into my study abroad school (Fudan University) and arranged my housing for me so everything was pretty much set up when I showed up in Shanghai. Within the first few days of our arrival, there was an orientation just for us UC kids – although we came from 5 different campuses, we are all “Californian” so I appreciated the advice that catered specifically to us, delivered in a small group setting.
The other big thing that our directors did for us was to plan a group trip to Wuyuan, a county in Jiangxi Province famous for its quaint countryside scenery and beautiful fields of yellow flowers. Apparently, in the past, the UC group did a smaller trip to a location closer to Shanghai; this semester, they decided to do a weekend trip to Wuyuan, which is about 7 hours away from Shanghai by bus.
We woke up bright and early on a Saturday morning and piled into a mini-bus that our program director hired for the 11 of us in the program. Our destination for the first day was the hillside Huangling (荒岭) Village. To get there, we took cable cars that took us from the parking lot to the village itself.
Of course, although we were told the bus ride would be 6-7 hours, it actually took more like 8-9. And as usual for China, there were so many tourists here, and the line to go up via cable car took forever!! I was already cranky because I had to wake up early, so I didn’t appreciate having to wait over 1 hour in line. 😡 Also, this lady few paces ahead of me in line was eating some sort of crunchy fruit, or rather, chewing each bite and then spitting it out on the floor. What???
By the time we got to the top, the sun was already setting. Our group kind of had a tour guide, but she only spoke Chinese, so half of us couldn’t even understand her, so eventually us UC kids kind of ended up doing our own thing, making our way through the little ancient village.
Huangling Village really is picturesque, made even more so by the golden rays of the setting sun. The architecture of the buildings are in the Huizhou style with white walls and black roofs, because Wuyuan used to be a part of Huizhou Province. Lining the streets are teahouses, souvenir shops, and food stalls.
The locals dry crops such as corn and chiles on the roofs of their buildings in order to preserve them. I’ve never seen something like this before, so I thought it was very interesting! 🙂
As I approached the edge of the village, I found myself surrounded by the most incredible scenery of hundreds and thousands of yellow flowers grown in neat little rows on the hills.
Spring is the perfect time to visit, because all of the rape flowers are in bloom! (That sounded weird but rape is the actual English name of these flowers, in Chinese it’s 油菜花. It’s also the thing Canola Oil is made from!) They grow in terraces across the hillside, forming a sea of wiggly yellow lines against a lush green backdrop. This is a view I’ve never experienced back home in California!
There is also a long bridge here with glass floors (which I went on) and a zipline (which I was highly discouraged not to ride by the program directors, and since this was one of my first trips in China, I was still *cautious* and decided against riding. lol).
Soon, the sun set, so we piled back into a cable car and headed down the mountain.
That night, we stayed in a sort of sketchy hotel… D: I roomed with two friends from my program; we agreed to talk the whole night and just stay up because our early wake-up messed with our sleep schedule and none of us were sleepy. That being said, we all knocked out around 3am LOL. What made the hotel sketchy was that there didn’t seem to be many visitors that night, and all the hallways had the lights off, with some of the room doors being wide open. The carpet in our room had lots of wear-and-tear and the mirrors had weird black blotches on it. And everyone else in our group got placed in rooms two floors above us, so it was a little creepy. I wouldn’t be surprised if that hotel was haunted. Haha. Ha… *nervous laugh*
The next morning, we headed to our second destination: Xiyuan (熹园). Wuyuan is the home of Zhu Xi, a famed Confucian scholar from the Song dynasty. Xiyuan is like a small garden courtyard, with some traditional buildings surrounding a large pond.
Okay, my honest opinion is that Xiyuan, while beautiful, is not too interesting of a tourist attraction unless you are really interested in ancient Chinese history or culture, in which case, it is quite interesting! Lol. We had a tour guide here but again, she only spoke Chinese, so I only understood about 30%, that is to say, not much at all. Sad.
After our visit to Xiyuan, we got back to our bus and headed home to Shanghai, another 8 hour bus drive. Groan. But at one of the rest stops there was a Mcdonald’s AND a Starbucks, so I got both 🙂 YAY!
Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to beautiful Wuyuan, although the huge crowds and all the time spent waiting on buses or in lines was a downer. It’s given me a taste of what China has to offer, and I’m excited to see more! Big thanks to the UCEAP Shanghai staff for planning this trip! 🙂