Luxury Travel in Anhui

After arriving in Hefei, Anhui Friday afternoon, Nicole and I were greeted by Demi and her father who drove us straight to lunch with their family. We went to a small restaurant which had pre-prepared a feast of local dishes for us. Anhui is an agricultural province and fresh local produce here is cheap and readily available. There was river fish, duck soup and a variety of vegetarian food that was made especially with Nicole’s vegetarian diet in consideration.

Straight after our late lunch there was a three hour drive from Hefei to the hotel we were staying at, a boutique hotel called Yuegui mountain villa. The drive ended up taking around five hours thanks to bad map directions on the GPS. It would be virtually impossible to get there without a local person to take you there. Even with Demi’s parents, who had visited there several times, it was difficult to find. This hotel was made up of traditional housing which had been renovated to provide all the comforts of a boutique premium hotel. It was hidden amongst rice paddies, vegetable fields and a river than ran through the village at the foot of the famous Huang Shan. Thanks to its inconspicuous location and exclusive environment there were not many other tourists and it really felt like stepping back in time when Chinas population was small and people survived off eating and trading their locally grown crops. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant which again cooked the locally grown organic produce and home made toufu that was absolutely amazing.

It was a relatively early night as we had planned an early start the next morning. The Saturday morning started with a traditional breakfast of rice porridge, fruit, fried sticky rice, eggs and preserved vegetables. After breakfast we walked around the town which had a crystal clear lake running through it that was filled with fish that nibbled at your skin when you put your feet in the water. The people living in the traditional houses on the rivers edge live a rural life, living off the land and we saw several locals washing their vegies and clothes in the river. There was a school of artists that were painting by the river and I have been told that there are a few art schools that were also based in the area who have all the natural scenic views available to them to paint at their doorstep.

We had lunch at the hotel again, before heading off to the Peach Blossom lake villa where we were staying the night. This was a very exclusive hotel on the bank of the peach blossom lake. The lake is famous for the mist that curls around the mountain in the mornings. Due to the temperature difference between the water in the lake and the temperature in the mountains mist forms at the start of the day. We planned to wake up early for this and again had an early night after dinner at a local restaurant which had only us as customers that evening!

The next morning after taking plenty of photos of the mist, Demi’s father had arranged us to take a large boat across the river and enjoy the sights of all the islands, mountains and have lunch on an island which he had travelled to before. It was all absolutely stunning, but the highlight of the river cruise was where we stopped on an island which was filled with monkeys that had been raised on the island for tourists. We got to see the monkeys up close, and the monkeys were bold enough to run onto our boat and steal a bag of chestnuts! Overall a stunning trip to the foot of Huang Shan, and I would absolutely love to return and stay longer.

Sunday night was back in Hefei, the city where Demi was raised and her parents still live. It was a strange feeling to be back in the city with lights everywhere and the hustle and bustle of traffic and people. I took advantage of being in a modern city hotel and went to the gym and visited the pool which felt tremendous after a weekend of too much food! I’m currently on the high speed train to Shanghai, and am excited to be seeing all the places and people that really sparked my initial interest in China!Image

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