While you’ll doubtless see the odd Chinese hiker
dressed head to foot in North Face gear and,
upon reaching your destination, buildings awash
with banners from various mountaineering and
camping groups, scaling Gongyu Bei in Zhejiang
for a view over ‘the Jiangnan Shangri-La’ is
actually easily accomplished in a day, even for
inexperienced climbers. Some scrabble over
rocks and take a somewhat suspect-looking rope
bridge around the more sheer of Gongyu Bei’s
rockfaces, and some prefer to continue the hike to other surrounding peaks, but you can see plenty – including the
key view back onto the small clutch of houses
nestled among terraced fields seen on this page
– simply by sticking to the well-worn bamboo-lined
The aforementioned houses that make up Gongyu are
happy to supply refreshment (try their homemade
fruit-infused baijiu) and will also rent you a tent (for 60RMB) or a bed in a basic wooden room (for
25RMB) if you want to stay longer, but otherwise
you can get up and down in a few hours.
Getting to Gongyu Bei (公盂背) from Shanghai
is slightly more complicated, however. The first
step is to get a train to Linhai. A 40RMB taxi
journey will then get you from the train station to the
bus station, and from here it’s an 18RMB ride to
Xianju (仙居), a dusty scrap of a town that’s grown
up to service the nearby Zhen Xianju scenic area.
You’ll find a number of business hotels here,
but the slightly out-of-town Anfo Villa combines
reasonably priced rooms (from 200RMB) with a
relatively peaceful location and they’ll also book
you a car to the foot of the path up to Gongyu and back for 200RMB (a
good deal cheaper than the price you’ll be quoted
at the town’s bus station). Still, you’ll want to
head back into Xianju in the evening for some spicy,
Jiangxi-influenced local cuisine.
To turn your trip into a weekend break, you
can spend a few hours exploring Linhai itself.
The city features an ancient street running from
its centre down to the pretty Longxing Temple
(entry 40RMB), which is a good area to head to
for sustenance, but locals will tell you that the top
tourist attraction is the Great Wall (entry 65RMB).
No, not that Great Wall – it turns out there’s more than one. Linhai’s 'Jiangnan Great Wall' was first built to defend the city during the Eastern Jin dynasty, before being expanded in the Sui and Tang dynasties. Of course, you don't hear as much about it as its cousin up north for a reason, but while it's not quite as impressive as The Great Wall, in places it does bear an uncanny resemblance to China's most famous wall. There’s even a ‘Badaling of the South’ section, though the view is slightly spoilt by a modern day dormitory immediately inside Linhai’s version.
And if you’re looking to really up the kooky
factor while you’re in Linhai (or you miss the
last train home), you can stay the night at a site
beside the railway station that bills itself as
one of China’s only caravan parks.
wheels and number plates on show, the rows
of wooden cabins that comprise Feng Zhi Gu hotel (风之谷) are actually permanent and make
for a cheap (from 140RMB) and clean spot to bed
down. Just be warned that you will be woken by
the first train in the morning.
How to get there Regular dongche and gaotie trains
head to Linhai from Hongqiao, taking around
three hours and costing from 135RMB one way.
The Anfo Villa can be booked through
0576 8932 0999 and Feng Zhi Gu hotel (风之谷) through 0571 8788 3333. Both are also
available to book through Ctrip. To book a bed
or a tent at Gongyu, call 139 5821 6116