About a three and a half hour bus ride outside of Shanghai lies a huge bamboo forest, which many people know as the filming site of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's impressive flying fight scene.
My friends and I went to Anji for a brief overnight trip, and it ended up being one of the best short trips I've taken in China. The forest was beautiful and not too crowded (unless you include the mosquitos,) and our guesthouse was fantastic. The owners were incredibly friendly, and the local dishes that they cooked up were delicious. Who knew bamboo could be cooked so many different ways?
The first day that we arrived it was raining and overcast, so we took our fair share of "misty mountain" pictures. The second day though was all blue skies and puffy, clean white clouds.
You can see the difference a day makes in the same valley vista.
We hiked around, and it was easy to lose the other tourists and reach areas where you really felt in the middle of nature. This is no easy feat in most places in China, but - as we later learned - we had come to Anji during the off season. The summer, with its unpredictably rainstorms and hungry mosquitos, isn't considered the best time of year to visit. Better to come in winter, when snow decorates the mountains, or spring when you can try digging up your own bamboo shoots (for stir frying later.) Try traveling to any well-known tourist spot during a national holiday though, and your trip will look like this.
This was my penultimate trip around China before moving back to California. It was a very good one, although my last trip, to Xi'an, was fantastic as well. More about that soon....