13 August 2016

Mulan Mountain & Heaven Lake, Wuhan

City life is great but I wanted to trade the concrete style of Wuhan's Optics Valley for a mountain view. Calling upon a favour from a friend we made it possible to escape from the bustling city centre to discover Wuhan's Mulan Scenic Area, located in Huangpi District within the Greater Wuhan Area, it was great! Oh, I ate fresh river fish for lunch to then climbed a mountain! 

It didn't take long before the concrete fashion of the city started to disappear, taking the airport road out the city, it was lovely to see some countryside going on! I have been working on getting my visa renewed during the summer break so planning a getaway had been put on the back burner until September, sticking within the Greater Wuhan Area seemed like a viable plan so I could keep a close eye on the more important things, that visa needed to be sealed in my passport! I was living for the scenic vibe that was whizzing past, the epic Mulan Mountain would be our first destination for that overnight trip. Did the legend of Hua Mulan have anything to do with this lush scenic area? I did see several statues of a certain Chinese warrior queen! I remained hopeful that heroine of war had something to do with this amazing area, it was crazy to think that we were still in Wuhan! I may have struggled but served Hua Mulan Realness!

Braving the sweltering August weather it didn't take a fool to see the sensational views that stood before me, I was living for that epic Chinese scenery! With legendary views from every corner, I gazed with true amazement as to my delight a smattering of blue skies had bothered to make an appearance. Looking for that higher point of view I could of begin to sense the history and legacy this Wuhan landscape was serving right before my eyes! Dating back the Southern Song Dynasty the whole Mulan Scenic Area dated back from A.D 1259, leaving the history behind for a second I was standing over 582 metres above sea level! If truth be told I haven't really took the time to see other places outside Wuhan's three towns apart from my Xianning, Hubei weekend, keeping it local worked during that August summer period. We decided against climbing to the top because we had other sights to see during that same day. Time waits for no one, not even a for a warrior like Hua Mulan! No!

Far away from any chain restaurants or anything remotely familiar it created the perfect opportunity for some hearty and authentic Huangpi village food. Choosing an uncomplicated roadside restaurant down from the heights of Mulan Mountain proceeded to be a winner! We dined on the freshest and most delicious river fish that was a local speciality, caught from the nearest waterway it tasted so fresh and light. I adored the fish but being from the river it had the biggest bones I ever did see, I was definitely careful! To accompany the fish dish my friend ordered some steamed tofu that was served with egg, I was not keen on the egg but the tofu must have been cooked with lots of garlic, mixed together with some steamed rice it turned out to be a lunch to remember, the price tag was for nothing as that restaurant was suited by farmers and local village people. Of course my chopstick game was on-point! Hao de!

Being within that village setting gave me life for certain, I'm definitely more of a city boy but being within that simple and calmer setting for only a little while helped me zone out. Our food that evening was equally as tasty, staying close to the next attraction that we visited after Mulan's Mountain we dined on some fried pork, served in a onion gravy sauce, packed with lots of fried onions I was in heaven as I savoured as much gravy as possible, complementing that evening meal had to be some freshly fried chips that were thinly cut and cooked to perfection! Going off onto a tangent, during the drive up from Guanggu it was great to pass my friend Fiona's new home, she'll be living in Hankou North from September 2016 before we return our second year of teaching in Wuhan, China. I wanted to catch a glimpse of where she would be living so I could pass on some truth about her new neighbourhood. Deep down I know that deciding to spend my summer holiday in Wuhan was for the best!

Getting down to business it time to defeat the passage way that would lead to Wuhan's Mulan Heaven Lake. Tranquil the surroundings may have been it felt more like the road to hell during the ascent over the mountain that led to that breathtaking scene. Sourcing inspiration from Disney's adaptation of Mulan, I thought of the 'I'll Make a Man out of You' scene from the film. I forged through over the rocks, making my way to the end point because there was no way I was giving up! The baking sun beaten down through the trees, making the majority of the trek to the heavenly waterway something of a challenge, I'm not one for outdoor pursuits but it was an experience that I had to push forwards and get over myself real quick so I could concur that Mulan Scenic spot! It felt like a long time, but it was beyond amazing to see the serene waters of the Mulan Heaven Lake. I was thankful for those striking views! Zou ba!

Taking a breather was necessary, everyone else made the journey up from the entrance look so effortless! We took a short boat ride to the other side of the lake to get a closer look, it was a great photo opportunity, the whole experience had taken it out of me but the heaven like feel of the lake was well worth the crazy! Bidding a fond farewell to the Mulan Heaven Lake it was time to make our way down the easier way back down to the exit, we hadn't booked any lodging for the night and it was almost pushing 6pm! We stayed at the Mulan Tian Chi Hotel that was located a stones through from the entrance to that Mulan inspired spot. From start to finish I had an amazing day and night away from Guanggu, Wuhan. It may have only been a little break but Wuhan's Mulan Scenic Area served everything that I had wished for and more! If time permits I wouldn't say no to another Wuhan scenic trip in the future! Undoubtedly, the legend of Hua Mulan is alive and well beyond the Dynasties! Yass!

Wuhan, Different Everyday!

Joseph Harrison 

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