Monday, December 04, 2006

Sea of Bamboo

The Sea of Bamboo is a large natural forest of bamboo near the town of Yixing, Jiangsu. We visited it with a class from NUAA. It's a sight just like you'd expect from any cheesy brochures of China, or perhaps - more gratiatingly - high budget Chinese gong fu (kung fu) films; hordes of gently bowing white-ringed bamboo stalks, crowned with a handful of tiny spring green leaves, for as far and as deep as the eye can see. The Sea is tastefully accomodating to tourists, thanks to a plain wide path that leads through it, turning into stone steps or even a bamboo walkway at points.

The path in

Green bamboo

The first great sight along this path is a very traditional pavilion at the top of a small grassy slope. Backed by photogenic rolling mountains which have just enough mist to highlight their creases, it's the perfect prelude to the next sight - Mirror Lake. This area is well tended to, and very clean and calm. On the other side of the lake is a series of small lakes and dotted trees, which can be seen while walking round the long way. If you go the short way, there's a traditional pagoda to relax in. If you're adventurous enough to climb the hills around the lake, there's a cute viewing platform hidden in the trees, offering a panorma of the area, and perfect for a quick kiss.


Mirror Lake

Pagoda shrouded in bamboo

Higher parts of Mirror Lake

It's steep from the top!

Viewing platform

Further along, the path climbs upwards into the mountain, all the time surrounded by bamboo plants. People love to carve their names or some words into the trees, or even just draw in the powdery dust which accumulates on the trunks. This continual flow of vary shades of green is occasionally punctuated by an ancient temple, cave entrance, or stream. And also a children's playing park, which was good fun! It's around 7km from the entrance to the summit, depending on which route you take. The air here is extremely good, especially compared to urban stuff, and it's a very serene place.

Cave entrance

Mountain stream

Rough path up to the bamboo walkway

After a little while, we came to a resting place that was the base of the climb to the summit. The trail turned to steps here, and there were workers dragging trunks of harvested bamboo down the paths (perhaps to be used as scaffolding, who knows!). It was hard work, though the climb was worthwhile. We took the bamboo walkway down, and then hopped onto an electric tour bus to get to the front gate, so as not to miss our ride home. The moon had risen just as we were leaving, giving a glorious glow to the mountain at the end of the day.

Bamboo fronds at sunset

Carrying trunks down the steps

View from high up

Thoroughly recommended!