(the happening side of the town)
Day 5 & 8
Tangkou is an expanding jumble of narrow lanes, hotels and restaurants on the Taohua Gully where most of the Huangshan buses terminate. Many affordable hotels can be found in here, a sleepy town situated on either side of a small river spanned by several bridges. A perfect (location wise) town to be used as a base camp.
Touts are everywhere. From the first step you take, right after you alight from the bus from wherever, to your last step, right before you board the bus to wherever. It’s rather annoying, if you were to ask me. But most people would tell me it was due to the non-peak season when i was there. Businesses are crawling slow for most. So it’s understandable why we got pestered incessantly.
As annoying as it may be, the locals are very harmless. Once the heads are shook, they will leave you alone.
We ran into a few glitches when we first arrived. Mostly because we were overwhelmed by the choices of accommodation, transportation and food. We said no to all. In the end, we went into a restaurant where we were most comfortable with. Probably the only restaurant with English signboard that reads, Mr Cheng’s Restaurant.
From there, we were brought to a hotel, partly owned by Mr Cheng (he’s famous, he’s on Lonely Planet), or so he claimed.
A nice, sincere, young lad who drives a crappy tiny van was our driver for the day (more about him later!).
We paid RMB120 for our room for 3, which we thought was extremely reasonable. Of course, do not expect 100% working heater or rain showers. My poor macho friend, P, was freezing her arse off when she first showered. Later, we found out that we gotta let the shower water run for a good 10 minutes before the hot water comes onboard (thank goodness i showered last that day! haha!).
Then C, who never once turned off the tap had problems with inconsistent supply of hot water. Her screaming in between while showering was hilarious. Hehe! And me, the last one who showered.. had no problems at all! Inferring from the friends’ situations, i turned off the water tap quite a few times in between and the hot water worked just fine though a better shower head would be most welcomed — the one we had, the water flow was almost like my boys’ pee, friggin’ teeny weeny drip drops!
Dinner that night was obviously at Mr Cheng’s Restaurant, not because we wanted to but mostly because he sorta pestered us to but we were ok with it since we have nowhere else to go anyway :)
Food (RMB80+) was quite delicious and not expensive either.
We gave strict instructions on NO MSG, less salt and less oil + a leeeettttle bit spicy.
Stir fry vegetables. SPICY good!
Fried omelet with tomato. Yums!
Signature local dish – Stir fry chicken with tofu, mushrooms and fresh bamboo shoots
My favourite gotta be the first dish which was a little bit spicy but too spicy for P. Heh.
During the dinner, Mr Cheng kept telling us that it would be raining at Huangshan the next day. He doesn’t see any point at all going up to the mountain hence he took the initiative to plan our next day’s itinerary, which was to visit the 3 villages (which i mentioned here) that are similar to Hongcun but better for just RMB200 in a comfortable private sedan (the nice young lad quoted us RMB150 – after discount – for Hongcun). Obviously, he was out to tempt us knowing very well the deal we had the young lad on Day 8.
However, i remember very clearly that Huangshan’s weather forecast for the next day was supposed to be light snow. I remember because i remember jumping up and down in the bedroom with much excitement when i saw the forecast just a couple of days ago. So, how could light snow = rain? Mr Cheng even showed us the forecast on his handphone (in Chinese) which none of us could read of course.
I was skeptical.
I told him the sudden change of plan was not what we were prepared for and we would seriously consider our new itinerary by him. Phone numbers were exchanged and i told him once i’ve discussed with the friends, i’d give him a call.
What i did next was to text Darcy and told him to check the weather forecast for Huangshan for next day. As expected, “light snow” came flashing on the phone’s screen less than 5 minutes later. That was when we put our feet down and decided to go ahead with our initial plan, rain or snow.
And guess what?
I am so damn glad we stuck to our plan because it really snowed the next day!
the other side of the town where we didn’t explore
The next morning, we took the young and nice lad’s van to the cable car’s station for RMB50. If we were to go by the public bus, it would cost us RMB13 each and some walking required. So we rather pay a little bit more for comfort and everything else. :)
Uh huh, u read correctly. It was cable car for us after all. The ground was wet and it was snowing. I reckoned it would be much much safer for us to take the cable car instead. After all, many who have been up the mountain advised me to do so too, mainly because there was not much scenery to see if we were to walk up. Darcy was pleased as punch upon knowing this decision of mine. Heh.
left : our ‘bus stop’ right : some say, the best and cheapest food is under the bridge but we didn’t manage to find out of course
After we came down from the mountain, the first thing we did was to look for proper food, proper cooked food with tons of vegetables. We have been deprived rather badly.
After walking for a while, we hopped into a restaurant where a table was occupied.
Lunch (RMB80+) was promptly ordered and stir fry leafy vegetable was a must for me.
We mentioned less salt but the dishes came out almost salt-less. Ha! However, we were alright with it.. Better than being too salty, which we agreed in union. I must say, it was quite a good, homey meal. Then i thought out aloud, Is there no bad food in Tangkou at all?
An hour later, we were back at Mr Cheng’s Restaurant again but not for another meal this time.
This was where we we will be picked up to Hangzhou, the first bus (RMB100) for the day at 2.30pm. (fyi, Mr Cheng helped us to secure the bus tickets but fret not if you can’t find Mr Cheng because almost everyone in town could help you book it) Tickets are hot for this particular time slot so it is best to buy the tickets in advance if possible.
probably the only bakery in town. very decent and everything looked tempting, especially the black sesame goodies!
Important : do travel with your Passport all the time. P left her passport in Shanghai and it was quite a hassle whenever we tried to check in at all hotels.