The Emerald Valley lays at the feet of Huangshan. It has crystal-clear water with colours of the same name, and nice rock formation. The vegetation is notable too, it might be the closest we ever got from a real jungle (with wild and exotic sound from the fauna, especially birds). It is a mainly a Chinese tourist spot, we met one occidental only. People would occasionally show up superbly dressed, maybe following or preceding a wedding.
Huangshan (黄山), literally the "Yellow Mountain", is a mountain range composed of material uplifted from an ancient sea during the Mesozoic era and subsequently carved by glaciers during the Quaternary . It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, the archetype of Chinese paintings, with pine trees perched on salient peaks piercing through the fog. Weather is quite capricious. Our ascension of the lotus peak was an enduring exercise, against thick fog and battering rain. The whole mountain is busy during the day, with hordes of Chinese guides shouting in a microphone in the most touristic spots, but nearing the closing time of the last cable car, at half past four, it would become much more relax and peaceful. In the evening, it becomes completely empty. Early in the morning—and we woke up at four—you really feel alone in heaven.
We had a short time in Shanghai before taking the plane. We came back from Huangshan by night train and met at this occasion a nice couple from central China, who told us more, through the voice of the husband (the wife was not speaking English), about people's life, with a selection of pictures from their own collection. He was a doctor and she was a state officer at the same hospital. They seemed to have an idyllic picture of occidental life. At any rate, they were extremely friendly, offering us nuts from the mountain, giving us their contact number for when we would return to China, providing a lot of advises of where to go deep in the country, offering us pastry for the breakfast next morning and accompanying us in the metro to help getting tickets and finding our way. In Shanghai, we visited the oft-recommended Yu garden and haggled in the market. Elena would do the haggling as I cannot stand the practice (in which you always lose). It seems she was haggling well as a couple of times, her last offer was refused. It was rainy and extremely foggy and much of the time was spent in the hotel trying to fix the internet to attend to urgent matters, all falling at the same time.
A Chinese guardian lion (Shishi).