Shanghai Travel Social
Words and photos by Emma Huang
Summer is the season for fun on the trail, golden tans, and a splash in the lake. It’s always delightful to bake yourself on the dusty trail and then wash off the grit as you dive into cool water; what a way to let nature work the stress out of your body.
For people like me, who can’t really swim, this trip still had much entertainment to offer. At least part of that entertainment was me in a bikini, and the other part was getting out on to the open lake for some pristine paddling. Kayaking on Thousand Island Lake was an excellent start to my summer.
1. Heading off from Shanghai
Driving away from a dull and drizzly Shanghai, I didn’t expect any serious sunshine. Yet, in this trip with OK DEAL, I experienced the sunniest Dragon Boat holiday. A dozen unexpected sun burns showed up after some deep French style sun kisses.
There's a saying that goes, “When you are traveling with the right mood, the weather is more likely to do you some good.” Although the traffic in a public holiday couldn't seem to cut us a break. Nevertheless, a bright blue sky had made up for it on the way.
A good meal helped jumpstart an amazing trip. Waking up from a dream, I found our bus already stopped at our resort. One of the restaurants in this resort - “FISH MUSIC CLUB” - was decorated with a fishing boat. I wasn’t so sure where the music came from, but I couldn't care less when I tasted the food. What satisfying meal!
2. Cycling in a Fabulous Island
In the afternoon we arrived in an island with bikes for rent and a well-constructed greenway to guide cyclers. We were told that taking a circle on this island would take a whole day, so we decided to have a relaxing cycle in the sunshine, which in fact only took an hour to complete.
Our travel group consisted of people from all over the world. But after a 3-day’s intimate contact with each other, the gap had been replaced by much more understanding, love and respect.
We got a few cool acrobats who accidentally joined in the group and a few lovely couples who were ready to have a second honey moon; We got a few family kids who were absolutely more independent than most adults and a few BFFs or potential BFFs…
Our first day schedule started with an unforgettable meal and ended with a bonfire party (or more of a beer pong competition later that night).
It’s unfortunately a little too hot to sit around a summer bonfire, but who can resist some tasty barbecue marshmallow and cold alcohol? After a few drinks, we all began to appreciate precious travel time spent together as a team.
3. Paddling in a Hidden Paradise
The next morning we warmly welcomed another great sunny day. Our tour leaders woke up early in the morning and prepared our western breakfast for us. The owner of the local guest house we lived in was incredibly friendly. She and her husband picked fresh waxberries from the mountains to give to guests every day.
After a 40 minute drive from our local house, the bus took us to a tranquil lakeshore. We were standing on one of the 1078 islands in this district and right in front of us there was this beautiful view of a green lake, green islands, white clouds and blue sky.
The only thing more attractive than our colorful kayaks was the lake itself. Many people couldn’t help but jump into the refreshing water one after another, like a row crisply-baked cornbread muffins just parched for some of that thanksgiving gravy.
Those who were left on the board decided to do some warm up before a whole afternoon’s kayaking. One of our tour leaders, King Kong, was a very tall, but unbelievably flexible guy. Watching his powerful yoga posture, I was determined to go to the gym more often.
After lunch we had a brief class with the kayaking club’s coach, it was actually much easier than I thought it would be. Or maybe because I got the most devoted partner - our tour leader Remi - who had contributed 80% of our water exploration around the lake field.
Surprisingly I managed to take a selfie on our kayak without falling into water and let Remi rescue me. To balance was not always an easy thing but with my strong helmsman sitting at my back, I wasn’t afraid of anything.
As the sun hung in the middle of the sky, there was nowhere better to hide than in the tree shade of an island. Each island had its unique shape, size and name. However, when we paddled around in a wobbling kayak, finding the right direction was really quite difficult. Remi and I decided to take an adventurous route on the lake.
We picked the deep end to go with the flow. Not long after we found ourselves lost in a hidden wonderland. Looking around, there was not even one creature from our sight. It felt like we were the only two human beings left in the world to experience the miracle of nature. Right in front of us the mountains were misting over and the only sound we could hear was the occasional rustle from an island.
“It’s been so long”, Remi started to whisper in my ear, “It’s been so long since I haven’t been flooded with noise.” We both kept our voice down so no one would interrupt this god-given serenity.
Every time when one of us got tired, we pulled alongside an unknown island, took a short break, and then headed onto the next destination. After a few island pauses, we finally parted with this hidden paradise in a reluctant mood.
4. Flowers, Games and Goodbye
On our way home, we found a wide bed of flowers in a wild field, and it was right in full-bloom. Even just a 15 minutes walk or simply lying down on a peaceful grassland gave us the maximum pleasure of being in nature.
On the last night we almost finished all the alcohol stored in the owner’s fridge. When I got out from my room, it was nearly midnight. All the snacks were gone and only a lot of empty bottles were left on the table. Then I was dragged into a fun drinking game. As the only sober person in our group, I stayed the latest and happened to hear two gentlemen’s interesting conversation. “After today I realized how convenient it is to have bald head.”
“Yes, I have the same feeling.”
“I used to have a normal hair cut and every time when I go swimming in open water, the drops of water on my head will drain all over my face. But now…” He lifted his fingers, pointed at his head and said, “easy to dry!”
“I couldn’t agree with you more. You just simply shave your head during shower and it’s all done!”
“Oh hey Emma, you are here!”
“Why don’t you shave all your hair as well just like we do?”
I thought about it for like 5 seconds and replied, “Mm…I guess I’m a woman and I’m not married yet?”
“Haha…then I’ll bring a scissors to your wedding.”
What a threat!
I don’t know whether those two drunk men still remember this odd night conversation with me or not. But I’m sure people will all remember a well-deserved holiday getaway as much as I do. Thanks, OK DEAL! Thanks for bringing us all together and introducing us to another great land. Now I’m really looking forward to a new adventure!
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