"Because one does not practice well in his past life, he is born in Huizhou (a historical region in southeastern China) in the present life."
This is a lyric from a well-known ancient Huizhou folk song. It means that throughout history, making a living in Huizhou has not been easy, as people often leave their homes there to do business outside starting at a very young age.
It was also this lyric that inspired a Chinese tourism writer who uses the pen name Bavaria Bacchus to explore the Huihang Ancient Trail, a 16-kilometer path linking Jixi county of East China's Anhui Province and Lin'an of Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, which was also once an important commercial and communication link for businessmen traveling between the two regions in the old days.
When Bacchus first visited the ancient trail, it was more like a forgotten path. "The ancient trail looked partly hidden and partly visible in mountains and brooks, showing a kind of heavenly loneliness," he wrote in his article, which was recently published by thepaper.cn.
In recent years, though, the ancient trail has gradually become a hot spot for backpackers in China. They are attracted by the trail's historical atmosphere, beautiful scenery as well as the convenient tourism facilities.
One big attraction about the Huihang Ancient Trail is that there are many old legends related to it. The trail once offered important transportation for Huizhou businessmen who wanted to seek opportunities outside.
Nowadays along the route, tourists can still find many tea stands, which in the past offered resting places for the toilsome travelers. Many of these travelers later became celebrities. For example, Hu Xueyan (1823-1885), a famous businessman in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and a Jixi native, travelled via the trail to explore business opportunities outside.
China's literary giant Hu Shi (1891-1962), a Jixi native, also spent days walking along the Huihang Ancient Trail to seek an education in Shanghai. According to Bacchus, those legends gave him another kind of pleasure in trekking the ancient trail. "You can go sightseeing in South Anhui, but also can recollect old people's footprints in the trail," he wrote in the article.
Scenery along the trail
Along the trail, visitors can stop at a number of other nearby tourism attractions including villages, peaks, waterfalls and pavilions. The ancient trail is now a 4A national tourist attraction in China. The way Bacchus sees it, one of the most impressive tourism spots along the trail is a place called Lantianao. Located near the eastern end of the trail, Lantianao has become a camping site.
"Anyone who makes his first visit to Lantianao is sure to be shocked by the place's magnificence. It is so grand that you can enjoy an uninterrupted view of the whole valley," he wrote in the article. "Flowers are blooming over mountains and fields, and you look down from a height just like a monarch," he said.
Night in Lantianao is even more charming, Bacchus wrote. "After the sun sets, Lantianao's sky is so tranquil. Stars are embedded in the sky like diamonds. People light a bonfire, sing and dance as all their worries and trifles are evaporating in this beautiful valley."
According to him, after camping in Lantianao, trekkers can choose to visit Yezhutang and then go to the highest peak in western Zhejiang, known as Qingliang Peak. But he stressed that as the government has intensified its management of the peak in recent years, trekkers should prepare formalities before they try to conquer the peak.
Because the trail is not very long, it allows ordinary people to complete the trek without much difficulty, and thus it is turning into a popular, entry-level trekking route for many newbie backpackers.
"On weekends, the ancient trail is now often crowded with young backpackers. Many people are carrying sleeping bags that they have bought for the first time, excited expressions on their faces," Bacchus wrote.
Once a "primeval" place without many signs of man-made features, the trail now offers many auxiliary facilities and services for trekkers. For example, there are many homestays around Xiaxuetang, a tourism spot along the trail.
Lantianao is also home to many dormitory buildings, according to an article on domestic tourism information website mafengwo.cn. There are also many shops or individuals selling camping equipment or snacks along the trail, according to the reports.
Visitors to the ancient trail can take a train to Jixi station in Anhui (about 10 hours from Shanghai), and then take a bus (the bus station is a 20 minute walk from the railway station) or a taxi directly to the ancient trail.
The ticket office for the trail is located at Jiangnan Diyi Guan, also a famed spot along the route. Normally a ticket costs 68 yuan ($10) per person. There are many shops around the ticket office selling mountaineering sticks, which are useful tools for amateur trekkers.
The article was based on a report by thepaper.cn.