A Wonderful Weekend in Wuyuan

By Claire L. Squire 2020-09-25 16:14:41

Explore ancient villages and swim in waterfalls all whilst sipping a gin and tonic

 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to celebrate the birthday of my friends’ baby, Mei. She turned the grand old age of six months. Now, I’m well aware that this isn’t an age that’s typically celebrated but, we felt with everything going on in the world you need to celebrate every possible moment.

 

 

Instead of having a lazy brunch in Shanghai we decided to be daring and head out on an adventure. We planned a long weekend in Wuyuan and it was an absolutely perfect way to spend time away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

We headed out from Shanghai on a high-speed train on Friday evening. It’s a three-and-a-half-hour journey, so we all wrapped up work a little early so we could get there with plenty of time to enjoy a gin and tonic at the hotel bar before bedtime.

 

 

Top tip for all of you guys traveling by train, if you have a baby you’re going to need to hold for the journey, lots of luggage or you're feeling especially decadent, splash out and travel business class. It’s outrageously comfortable and totally worth the cost. Each passenger has a little pod of their own and plenty of space around them and you’re offered more food and drinks than you could possibly consume on the journey.

We hopped off the train feeling amazing, business class is the way to live… but it could have also been something to do with the chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc we brought with us from Shanghai. We had a driver, arranged by the hotel, waiting for us at the train station.

We travelled along windy roads in the dark for about 30 minutes before arriving at our destination - tiny little village nestled between Wuyuan city and the mountains.

 

 

We were staying at a small boutique hotel called Skywells. It’s not at all what you would expect in a tiny, and very remoting feeling village. It’s a beautiful 300-year-old courtyard mansion that was bought by a Chinese woman (Selina) and her British husband (Ed). They have tastefully renovated it, keeping all of the incredible bones of this ancient building, but making it warm, cosy and inviting at the same time. The balance between the grandeur and authenticity of this building and the convenient comfort make it one of the most incredible places I have ever stayed in China.

 

 

After having the much dreamed of gin and tonic at the bar we all headed to our respective rooms. There were eight of us on the trip, so between us we had a mixture of single rooms, twins and a family room. We had a good nosey around in each other spaces and each room was unique, beautiful and very cosy. It would have been very easy to spend the entire weekend at the hotel.

The first morning we all woke up, some of us slightly fuzzy headed (thank you, white wine and gin) and headed for breakfast, a delicious Chinese buffet served with (thank goodness) exceptionally good coffee.

 

 

We then headed up to the roof of the hotel. Part of the roof is open to the elements, another part is enclosed and air conditioned. With temperatures over 35 degrees this was much needed. The view from the roof was stunning, distant mountains punctuated with tiny little white walled villages with peaked roofs.

 

 

The village Skywells is situated in is distinctly untouristy. It has a ‘real China’ feel. For this reason alone, you should add Wuyuan to the top of your travel list. The village is all rambling laneways and locals hanging out in the square trying to catch some of the afternoon breeze.

We then trotted to the neighbouring village, about a ten-minute walk along a small irrigation canal that cuts though fields. The neighbouring village Si Xi is more ‘set-up’ for tourism. You need a buy a ticket to enter as a guest. We were greeted by an enthusiastic local who took us for a tour before kindly leading us to her house/restaurant (one and the same) for lunch.

 

 

The village was once a grand place, boasting an old bank, and richly decorated buildings with old carvings. Now, the bank is someone’s living room. They cheerily waved us in to take a look at the old cashier’s windows and proudly showed us massive stone vessels that caught rain water, ‘incase of fire’ they said.

The social hub of the village was a small wooden bridge that stretches across the lazy river running though the centre of town. The small breeze cooled the otherwise furnace like air. The locals hung out on the bridge and offered us the inside scoop on where’s good to eat, and whose ‘living rooms’ has the most beautiful carving inside.

We dined at the hotel that evening, the food was traditional Jiangxi style and absolutely delicious!

 

 

The following day we hired a driver through the hotel and headed up into the mountains, after a 40-minute drive we arrived at a large river. We ‘hiked’ (baby strapped to her Dad) up the mountain. Like a lot of hiking in China, it was a paved and very easy going.

 

 

The path we followed led to a series of waterfalls. Each waterfall fell into a crystal-clear pool, perfect for swimming. The water was cool and crisp after the hot and sweaty walk, even baby Mei took a dip!

 

 

We ambled back to the hotel slowly for a slice of Mei’s half-birthday cake and relaxed for the rest of the day. A few of the more ambitious among the group borrowed bicycles and headed off to explore the surrounding areas, while the more sensible among us napped and freshened up for dinner and drinks.

Setting off back to Shanghai the following morning felt a little sad. Leaving the sleepy countryside and warm homely feeling of Skywells was difficult. Ed and Selina our hosts were helpful, friendly and flexible when it came to our needs, and most importantly the needs of baby Mei. It’s a trip I would highly recommend for people with babies or young families that are looking for an easy and fun weekend getaway.

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