Placid Putuoshan - 10th July 2008 @ 4:37 pm «   »

Location: China, Zhejiang Province : Placid Putuoshan

Departing from Hangzhou just after 10:00 yesterday morning, we sat through a 30min local bus, 3.5 hour train, another 15min local bus, a 1 hour long distance bus and a 1.5 hour ferry before arriving at Putuoshan Island around 16:30, having travelled only about 400km.

We were met by a group of touts from local hotels and viliages and after a short delibiration we went with the cheapest private-accommodation option, only about 500m from the port. As always we had a relatively comfortable room with air-con, TV, shower and sit-down toilet. Unfortunately the neighbours (home-owner & other locals) turned out to be a bit loud, but it wasn’t too much of a problem.

Putuoshan is a small island, not too far from Shanghai, and has one of the 4 holy Chinese Buddhist mountains – which was the main reasons for our visit. That, and the fact that the local TV stations advertises this place like crazy.

Specialising in seafood, we tried one of the many restaurants which had large baths, containing all sorts of live sea creatures, on display outside. As always, there was no English menu and enquiring about prices seemed to produce hugely overpriced quotes from the manager. Not wanting to fork out too much we had to settle for something a little less exotic and went for dishes containing land-roaming animals.

This morning we got up at a lazy 9:30am and got ready for the day’s adventures. Compared to the other holy mountains Mount Putuo is an absolute puppy, only reaching a hight of 291m above sea level, but with the heat, humudity and steps we’ve learned not to underestimate any mountainous apponent. We set out from the south of the island and walked the 3-odd kilometers to the start of the trail on the northern side. As usual, there were dozzens of stalls dotting the path up the hill selling provisions and all sorts of trinkits.

Reaching the ‘summit’ 1.5 hours after leaving home (we couldn’t actually get to the very top as there is a massive military compound built on top..), we had plenty of time to explore the unusual Huiji Buddhist temple close to the peak. We had hoped to have lunch in the temple, prepared by monks at a select few of these temples, but contrary to what we have read everywhere, this option was non-existent.

We spent some time taking photos and roaming the different halls before starting the trip back down. The 2nd category of sights on the island was the various caves, each one having an annoingly remote location relative to everything else. We first set off from the base of the hill for the most famous and revered cave of the lot. ‘Cave of Buddhist Sounds’ is reputed to mimic the sounds of chanting monks when the waves crash inside.

We walked in scourching heat for about 3 km along a non-pedestrian friendly road before reaching the cave, only to find out that it was closed for renovation and we only had the option of looking down at the small construction site from the cliff-side. We had to look at the bright side and counted ourselves lucky not to have been charged anything at the entry gate.

We got a bus back to the main town and, after deciding that caving was not our thing anyway, proceeded to visit the Puji temple and afterwards swing past the signature ‘carved rock’ – a massive rock with bright red carvings, balanced in a precarious position and which appears on all postcards and promotional material of the island.

After all the mandetory sights we spent a bit of time relaxing on Hundred Step Beach, a short walk from town, and had some well deserved snacks and refreshments. Chinese life-guards are particularly intollerent of bathers disobaying the rules, regularly shouting commands over megaphones and chasing people around.

With the day drawing to a close at this stage, we had to make our way to the south-eastern most tip of the island to get a glimpse of the 33m high golden statue of the Goddess of Mercy ‘Guan Yin’. It was well worth the hike and the 6 Yuan entry fee, and we got a lovely view of the setting sun from the Buddhist pavilion.

Knowing we had a long travel day ahead of us we turned in early.

If you can’t see the slideshow above click here.

One Response to “Placid Putuoshan”  
Lauren and Charl Says:

Hellooo! Dont have a clue how to message you on skype…Charl says your mic is broken. Thought I would send you a quick message to say sorry I missed you online.