18th June
written by Hope

After saying goodbye to Eddo in Shanghai, we headed off to Wuyi Shan (Wuyi Mountain), in Fujian province. Our introduction to Wuyi Shan was kicked off quite ceremoniously by The Scariest Dinner We’ve Had So Far. We were taken to a restaurant specializing in “local delicacies”, if by “local” you mean “scary” and by “delicacies” you mean “all breed of mountain animals.” We ate wild boar and snake and mountain toad and turtle and wild pheasant and and…the list goes on. By the end of the meal we didn’t know if we should be more scared of what dish was coming next or of ourselves!

snake soup
This is what snake soup looks like.

After sleeping off our scary meal, we started the next day off with a ride on a bamboo raft.

bamboo rafting, wuyi mountain

Our bamboo raft man told us many, many jokes in Chinese (of which I understood exactly NONE). My parents had a good time, though, so that’s all that matters. Of course, Bamboo Raft Man is no match for my Dad when it comes to getting attention…as we passed through a narrow channel, my Pops made like Tarzan and howled mightily, his voice bouncing off the rocks from one end of the river to the other.

jeremy and dad, bamboo rafting, wuyi mountain
Um, is this REALLY my father-in-law?!?

As you’re floating down the river, you can see a bunch of people climbing the mountain; they look like little ants scrambling up the steep rock face.

people climbing wuyi mountain

Later on that afternoon, we did a little role reversal and WE were those little ants on the mountainside! The view from up top is stupendous, and despite the super steep climb on slippery wet rock, we all made it to the top! I was extra proud of my mom for pushing hard to make it up the mountain!

view of bamboo rafting area from wuyi mountain

The following day, we did some more hiking near the Blue Dragon Waterfall area, which was also quite pretty.

blue dragon waterfall, fujian province

But to me, the most interesting part of the Wuyi Shan area was the little run-down village (Xiamei) that the rest of the tour group wasn’t interested in at all. In fact, only my family walked through the entire village—the rest of the tour group turned around halfway through and waited on the bus. I guess they thought it was TOO run down and dirty, but I felt it was refreshing to see a place that wasn’t cleaned up and commercialized and polished for the tourist market.

The main drag in the village was filled with old ladies sorting tea leaves. Tea is a big cash crop for rural China, so cultivating tea is one of the major ways you can make a livable wage outside of the cities. Apparently tea sorters get paid for the number of bad leaves they pick out of the batch (not the number of good leaves they leave in!).

old lady sorting tea leaves, xiamei village

I liked observing the people—young and old—who lived in this town, and wondering what their lives were like: what makes them laugh? Where do they brush their teeth? What do they want to be when they grow up? Silly yet intimate questions, I guess.

two boys playing chinese chess, xiamei village
Two boys playing Chinese checkers.

old man, xiamei village
Old man on the main drag in Xiamei village.

Xiamei seems a world apart from places like Shanghai. It makes you wonder…as the government puts more and more effort into improving (economically) the lives of its poorer rural residents, how long before the people of Xiamei decide to move to the cities, where they can make more money hauling loads of laundry up a multi-story building than they can sorting tea leaves? How much longer before places like Xiamei are simply a relic?

shrine, xiamei village
Shrine, Xiamei.


  1. Martina

    Loved this post - the pictures and musings. I like those off-the-beaten path places too. Increasingly too few of those.

    Hugs to your whole family!


  2. Hope's Dad

    As a teenager, you often felt that your parents (especially me, your dad) embarrassed you. Now I realized how much hurt you were, and also the way you could reciprocate a revenge by showing our pictures on your blog embarrassing us now. Right? Oh, well!

  3. eddo

    I like how in the snake soup picture, you can tell everyone else is also taking pictures of the snake soup. :)

    Also, yay, great job Mommy!

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