Out of the handful of places I’ve been to outside Shanghai in the last year in China, Anji takes the cake! It is a lesser known weekend getaway, 3.5 hours drive outside of Shanghai westward in Zhejiang Province. One word to describe it – beautiful! I am not the one for hills and mountains, but I’ve never been to a bamboo forest, and the pics on the web looked too pretty to be true. Asked around to see if anyone’s been, but folks only had heard of Anji. So of course, I had to make the trip! Good decision!
I went with Xcape Shanghai, who organise weekend trips to Anji, on the first trip for this year, over the Qingming festival weekend – even better! We spent two nights, with a great bunch of people, through two evenings of beyond-delicious BBQ parties (one next to the pool!), local lunches, hearty breakfasts (think Brie cheese, fresh eggs, cold cuts and unlimited French-pressed coffee, and a great hike through the forest! I couldn’t have envisioned a lovelier, more comfortable time away from the city, nestled in pretty hills, in wooden cottages – fresh air, quiet surroundings, with a fresh-water stream right next to where we were staying. Our accommodation was in wooden chalets (which are better than what I saw in photos) – part of this resort called JIU LONG XIA HOLIDAY RESORT. Lovely unobtrusive, helpful staff. This cost me RMB 1900 – more than worth it.
Anji itself is a typical tiny Chinese town, well known for its white tea and bamboo. Lots of stores sell bamboo artifacts and tea (tons and tons of tea). The bamboo forests form a thick green and vast cover over the hills, interspersed with tea gardens. We saw tea-pluckers, working away quietly on the steep slopes – a perfect picture! The air was fresh, each breath like a shot of oxygen in your lungs. The weather Gods were good to us, with a sunny trek, and a light drizzle only on the second night, with a cool to chilly temperature throughout. The cottages made up a beautiful part of the scenery, and were surprisingly more comfortable than I expected. Warm and cosy – couldn’t help but remember my favourite childhood story about Heidi.
Enjoy the photos – the place is way prettier than you can tell from pictures. Anji is a place I’d return to for some time away from Shanghai. I hear that ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ was filmed here.