It’s my last time going to Moganshan before I leave China and I feel like I am putting a cork on the experience of being here for 8 years. Except I’m not corking a fine wine– I’m corking gutter oil, cheap Chinese baijiu, a chicken foot, and maybe some hot water thrown in for good measure (多喝热水!).
There’s something about endings that makes the little things feel more important, isn’t there?
Moganshan, a mountain retreat in Zhejiang about three hours outside of the city, is like the Hamptons of Shanghai. It’s the sort of fancy getaway (except instead of the beach it’s mountains. trust me, you do NOT want to go to a beach in China for reasons that would fill a War and Peace-sized novel) where the rich stay at the Naked Castle (sadly not clothing-optional) and the rest of us stay in quaint mountain resorts and hike through bamboo forests.
I’ve had some of my favorite weekends in China in Moganshan. I love the 15km hikes through the mountain, as long as you can avoid the crowds (Chinese hikers love playing club music on loud speakers, wear inappropriate hiking shoes, and travel in throngs with loudspeaker-bearing leaders). I saw snow there in 2021, which was mystical, enthralling, otherworldly. I have rarely been happier than hiking through the piercing cold in the misty mountain-side.
I needed a magical mountain hike after the Spring we just had. Truthfully, I still feel like a part of me is broken after the lockdown. A mountain getaway is supposed to be good for healing post-lockdown PTSD, isn’t it? But it’s too damn hot. We’re boiling in Shanghai, The ‘feels like’ index for the last two weeks has been at 125ºF (51ºC for my European friends). Even in Moganshan, where the mountain air is supposed to be cooling and regenerating, going outside is like being slow-roasted until I am tender meat. Swimming in the hotel pool was like stepping into a lukewarm bath. The hotel guide who took us out the last few times told us it was too hot to hike. He was right. My dog could only walk for 1.6 miles before she threw the towel and practically dragged me back into the AC.
This is also likely my last trip into Moganshan, certainly my last one before I leave China in six weeks. I feel like I should have some sort of pithy life lesson to take away from all this. But to be honest, I don’t. I haven’t processed it yet. And I’m also too tired after a music festival in the mountains and going back in a tropical downpour, so I will just leave this post with my favorite picture from Moganshan and keep that as my memory of this place when I am gone. So, goodbye Moganshan. It’s not you, it’s me.