Saturday, May 14, 2016

Gupo Mountain National Forest Park (姑婆山国家森林公园) @ Hezhou [Guangxi Province, China]

Gupo (姑婆) means grand aunt in Chinese and it makes one wonder why is the mountain named as such. Our tour guide was aware of the question mark in our minds and there was an interesting i shall share later.

With two major highlights of the trip (Guilin scenery and Longji Terraced Fields) cleared in the past few days, expectations for the rest of the itinerary were low and we were thinking this visit to Gupo Mountain National Forest Park was likely to be boring. 

At the very least, we were comforted by the fact that temperature was cool, maybe about 15 degrees celcius, and a walk in the mountains would likely be good for our body. 

A brief introduction of the park and key attractions on the map. What surprised me was the translated introduction in Malay language! Apparently, two Hongkong drama serials were shot in the forest park and they were big hits in Malaysia; resulting in a spike of Malaysian travellers to Gupo Mountain National Forest Park! 

Main entrance to the park; tickets are required and that's covered in our tour package. I have indicated the pricing at the end of this post. There are three spots we visited and i would break them down accordingly. 

仙姑瀑布 (Fairy Waterfall)
I couldn't fathom why people love waterfalls so much. Personally, i thought it was just plain therapeutic to see the water dropping from a height and the racket it made. 

The bridge we had to cross even though the river bed looked dry (and safe) enough to walk across. 

View from the bridge; with clouds covering the mountain peaks. There are a number of mountains in the forest park, with over 25 that's at least a thousand meters above sea level.

Another section of the river. 

Clear direction signs, including the Malay language. For a moment, i thought i was reliving my journey at Mount Kinabalu

山神石 - Mountain God's stone. Well, to many, it's just one huge rock placed at one corner. To those with imagination, can you see an old man with a walking stick?

A wooden label indicated this stone was used for one of the Hongkong drama scenes. I am aware of both dramas which were screened on channel 8 or channel u but given the prevalence of internet, i seldom watch free-to-air channels nowadays. 

The walk wasn't long although it was superbly refreshing to breathe in the fresh air. In case you didn't read the picture with introduction, Gupo Mountain National Forest Park is famed in South China for its high content of negative oxygen ions which are highly beneficial for your health! 

Now, the Xiangu waterfall - maybe i should now explain on the name for Gupo Mountain. It was said that there was a plague a long time ago and only a specific grass found in the mountains can cure the infected. A man climbed up the mountain but didn't return after a long period of time.

Presumed to be missing or dead, the fiancee couldn't accept the fact and climb up the mountain too to look for him. She didn't succeed although she did find the grass. 

Not one to give up, she made a vow to remain in the mountain until she finds her man. As time goes by, people started to call her fairy auntie (仙姑). The same term is also known as gupo (姑婆) in that area. 

Interesting? Back to the waterfall, it was 6 meters wide and 28 meters high; almost the same height as the man made one we have back here in Jurong Bird Park

Walking out after taking the opportunity to relax and breathe in tons of negative oxygen ions. It was said that the amount here was 300 times more that what we can find in urban areas! 

Dad was delighted and this visit to the forest park was counted as one of his key highlights for the trip as well. Speaking of which, i owe him a lot of photos for his physical photo album! 

As we strolled past the bridge, i suddenly caught a whiff of a fragrance that surrounded us in the past few days whenever we walked into a local foodstuff / tea store. The smell of osmanthus! 

The tour guide didn't take long to point out the osmanthus tree and we finally saw with our own eyes, a tree still blooming with osmanthus flowers! For such small flowers, you would be amazed by the strong intensity of its aroma! 

Scenic spots guide map - if i am on a free and easy trip, this visit would entail covering most, if not all the attractions! It's a pity that we arrived a bit too late at about 4pm and the park closed at about 5.30pm. 

With such short time allocated for this item on our itinerary, taking the shuttle was the only way to cover the attractions quickly! 

Disappointed as we didn't cover the xiangu temple; it had that aura of beauty from far and i bet the view up there would be fantastic! 

姑婆山九铺香酒厂 (Jiupuxiang Winery)
Once we got to the second attraction, i can more or less figure that we were on a tour to revisit the key scenes for the two drama serials. Speaking of which, the two shows are Plain Love II (茶是故鄉濃) and Country Spirit (酒是故鄉醇).

Dad didn't watch the show but it sure didn't dampen his spirits to be the model for my pictures. 

Decoration i presumed; the winery was built for the show "Country Spirit" even though not entirely for it. The winery was destroyed during the war and it was in fact rebuilt on the same ground by the Hakkas.

The liquor should have a certain fame and reputation among the alcoholics as there's a sign notifying everyone that it's only available for sale within the park. 

That's what happened when a product gets too famous; there would definitely be fakes or imitations just like some of our hawker stalls in Singapore. At least for this winery, one of the ingredients cannot be duplicated elsewhere; the spring water of Gupo mountain! 

Some photos for your viewing; the employees were already closing shop so we didn't get to try any of the wine or go through the process of Chinese wine making.

It also didn't help that a storm appeared to be coming towards our way with strong wind that's determined to spoil our visit! 

Plot of the Country Spirit (酒是故鄉醇). Guess it's for people like us who didn't catch the show and wonder what' it about. 

Final look as we dashed towards the shuttle. The sky has started pelting rain and on us and the least any traveller wants is to get sick on a trip! 

I was the last one out as i was busy taking last shots of the place and when i was about to reach the shuttle, i saw our entire tour group crowding around a table.

All were scrambling to get a taste of the stir-fried wild mountain mushrooms! Usually i wouldn't take a bite but seeing everyone so enthusiastic about it, i figured that if food poisoning were to strike; at least i have company!

The mushrooms were so delicious and he didn't put anything except for oil and mushrooms! Obviously the aunties in my group were keen to make some purchases and hanker with the owner for discounts.

Thanks to them, the price of RMB 130 for 500 grams was discounted to RMB 100! I regretted not buying more as they remained as marvelous when my mom stir-fried them back in Singapore. 

方家茶园 (Fang's Family Tea Garden)
Last stop; the tea garden or in my opinion, tea plantation. Having been to Cameron Highlands numerous times, i didn't think it would blow me away.

It was the location spot for Plain Love II (茶是故鄉濃) which focuses on tea.

Some famous tea again as there's a similar sign stating that the tea is not sold outside the park. For those who are interested, it's Oolong tea. 

Photographs taken of the plantation.

If you ask me, these wooden houses in the plantation should be converted into resort-style accommodation for people to stay over and breathe in the fresh morning air when they wake up! The environment was calm, relaxing and would do a stressful urbanite some good.

I took a peek and it seemed to be laid out as a workshop, maybe for tea culture or something.

Only when i was on the way out that i saw the signboard for directions to the different houses; there were tea-tasting for free but we missed it as we were too late! :(

My tour mates didn't really care and appeared happier to soak in the atmosphere and suck in as much negative oxygen ions as possible to fully utilise our journey.  

Rushing back to the entrance as the rain was getting heavier! 

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Admission Prices
Per Entry - RMB 115

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