is a compact hilltop. You can walk everywhere, from one sight to the
next, and always find something interesting in between, be it a quaintly
rundown old villa, a stunning view or simply a picturesque path to explore.
The hillside is crisscrossed with numerous stone walkways and steps,
some in very good repair, some sadly neglected. (The latter can be the
best fun to explore.) Pagodas are scattered through the woods like sofas
in an art gallery, perfect places to rest your legs and take in the
can ‘do’ Moganshan, in a rush, in a day. But much of its
charm will be missed. Best take at least two days, even better three,
to wander the old houses and museums at leisure, and still have time
for a short hike into the surrounding countryside. And don’t forget
to leave time for settling down with a good book in a pagoda, on a terrace…or,
of course, back at the Lodge.
for the official sights, museums etc. you must show your entry ticket,
the one you bought for RMB 80 at the gate as you came in. If you somehow
sneaked in without buying one, then the guardians will ask you to buy
one on the spot.
and Historic Buildings
from the start of the back road, just down from Yin Shan Jie, the Mao
Museum is an empty shell. Painted floors, white walls, no furnishings,
except for an iron bedstead, where Mao reputedly slept overnight. He
did not. He came up for a day, with an old comrade who happened to live
at the foot of the mountain, and during his walkabout had an afternoon
nap in this house.
the residence of a Kuomintang foreign minister, Huang Fu, this house
in the Baiyun Hotel
complex is the one where Chiang Kai Shek spent a few days on his honeymoon
with Song Mei Ling, in 1927. Ten years later Chiang returned here to
meet Zhou Enlai. They discussed how the Kuomintang and the Communists
might co-operate against the Japanese. The museum is pretty Spartan
in its artifacts, but compared to the Mao museum, it is positively cluttered.
The walls of the ground floor display grainy black and white photographs
of Zhou and Chiang, notably more of Zhou. There is a roped off study
where “meetings were held” and a dining room where Zhou
and Chiang “ate their meals”, and a bedroom where “they
slept”… you get the idea. But at least there is some furniture,
and house is pleasantly laid out.
spur of the mountain, originally named Mt Clare by the foreigners, was
the site of some of the earliest houses in the very late 1800s. On the
north side of the entrance to the Moganshan
Shanzhuang is a gully which sucks up a constant draft. The prime
plot, in those days before air conditioning, was right at the top of
it, where the Moganshan Shanzhuang now sits. Of the buildings now scattered
across the flat top of the spur, Number 550, the Songyue Ting, was the
scene of Chiang Kai Shek’s last visit to and meeting on the mountain,
to launch a new paper currency for China, in 1948.
Sword Pond, Jian Chi
billed as the main tourist attraction of Moganshan – it is after
all the reason the place got its name – the Sword Pond is set
in a beautiful gully, lined with green trees and imposing rocks, and
well worth the descent from the road and climb back up again. In the
off season it really does feel like a fairy glen. In the high season
on the other hand, there are crowds of tourists and local touts offering
you rides on sedan chairs etc. Do not let that put you off. The local
administration bureau has done a remarkably good job of building walkways,
wooden pagodas and viewing points. You can always find a quiet spot
to enjoy the serene beauty of the place, you’ll just have to look
for it a little harder sometimes.
Gongyuan (Reed Catkin Marsh Park)
one had to lay out a park in the middle of such beautiful and natural
surroundings, only a stuffy Victorian would know. But lay out a park
they did, as if the only way to enjoy nature was to impose one’s
own version on top of it. Reed Catkin Marsh Park leads up from the Administration
Bureau Office Car Park (where all the sedan chair carriers hang out)
up to the Baiyun Hotel. Where the foreigners stuck their gazebos, the
new generation has put tiny pagodas. And sculptures are scattered among
the small grassy clearings in the shrubbery. For all the manufactured
greenery, it is actually quite a pleasant little park. At least there
is no funfair in the middle of it.
pass this pagoda on your way up the steep road from Yucun, just as you
enter the village proper. So it’s a long hike by foot back down,
unless you are staying at the Radisson’s Du Yue Sheng Villa, right
beside it. Views down to the plain and across the hillside are spectacular,
on clear days. On misty ones you could almost imagine, if you try really
hard, that you are on the top of Huang Shan, thanks to the rocky cliffs.
Shi Jiao “Weird Rock Corner”
At the end of a spur that leads off west from the top of the mountain,
past Ta Shan, its highest point, Guai Si Jiao is a pleasant walk along
the ridge (detour to the tea plantation if you’re thirsty, see
Qingcaotang below). The place is signposted from the ridge road. If
you can’t read Chinese look for the mocked up photograph of weird
stones. You can’t miss it. Views are impressive, if plain. All
you can see is green hills stretching into the distance. The rocks themselves
are certainly pretty weird. Great photo opportunities. Look down to
the left and you’ll see four tall but dead-looking pine trees
poking out of the bamboo. They surround an old tomb. Take the steps
down for a look. They start from the left of the small pagoda. (for
more about where the steps lead, go to Roundabout Moganshan).
does not drip so much as gently stagnate. So it is green at least. However,
it is cleaned up regularly and if you slip your visit in between the
coach loads of tourists who stop here on their way up to Wulingcun,
you will probably enjoy a few moments of green peace. Do spend a moment
to read the description on the board. If you are French perhaps you
could get in touch please and explain how one quantifies “bonjour”.
(Green Grass Soup) Tea Plantation
below the “Weird Rock Corner”, on its south side, Qingcaotang
Tea Plantation is the only local one above 700 metres in elevation.
This apparently adds flavour. It also adds value. When the new leaves
are in season and just being picked, a pound of the finest blend will
set you back RMB 500. But it is delicious. The fourth soaking is when
the flavour really kicks in. The affable manager, Mr. Pan, is happy
to show you around, demonstrate the process of making tea, and will
even let you have a go, for a nominal fee. He can also lay on a rural
lunch in the ramshackle but charming old villa for guests.
just wander aimlessly
is crisscrossed with a maze of stone pathways and steps. Some follow
the contours of the hill, some climb vertically and at times precariously
to secret viewpoints. You might stumble on a run down derelict villa,
inhabited only by ghosts of the past, or a tumbledown still lived in
by aged locals who still remember those ghosts. One old man we know
recalls seeing Chiang Kai Shek up here. See if you can find the remains
of the old public tennis courts, the weed-covered ruins of Moganshan’s
first hotel built in the 1920’s, the Luyin Luguan, also known
as the Railway Hotel. (No, there was no mountain railway). At every
corner you will find a house with history. You do not need a guidebook,
you can make the stories up yourselves. Much more fun.
specific places to try to stumble on:
Assembly Hall. Halfway along Ridge Road, the old Assembly Hall,
built in 1923, housed the Summer Resort Association meeting rooms, a
kindergarten, concert hall and on the second floor the village church.
Today it is a carpentry store and workshop. If the workers are inside
you can ask to be let in for a look see. Without the dividing floor
the place really does feel like a cathedral. Before a workshop, it was
used to grow mushrooms, which somehow spontaneously combusted in 1999
and burnt the place down. Hence the new stonework visible on the walls.
Tennis Courts. Right beside the Assembly Hall, the tennis courts
are covered with short bamboo and weeds. But the stone foundation of
what was the main spectator pagoda still stands. The other viewing terraces
up the side of the hill have become the retaining wall for a large water
tank. The pleasant avenue of trees is a post ’49 addition. They
run right through the old courts.
Swimming Pool. Just up from Yin Shan Jie, the village street,
opposite the Post Office, the swimming pool is still full of water,
not that you’d want to swim in it. The original poolside buildings
have been replaced a couple of times. In 1922 the pool and buildings
were swept away by a landslide. One missionary was killed while a young
boy, who survived, ended up in the wreckage of the ladies’ changing
room. Must have been traumatic.
Shan. The “Gun Platform” which never had a gun
emplacement. What looks like the foundation of an old fortification
is in fact the ruins of the mountain’s first hotel, Luyin Luguan,
also known as the Railway Hotel. Turn off the back road down the mountain
about halfway to the Zhu Xiang Cun Hotel.