This is not for the faint hearted. Not because it’s a difficult climb. On the contrary, at 500 metres 1,800 feet or so it’s challenging but not impossible. The slopes are reasonable and the paths are new and well maintained. The problem is that you have to have the navigating skills of a Captain Cook and probably some of his equipment to find it. You see it’s outside the former zone in southern Bao’an and whatever they tell you they’re not used to tourists there. The idea that they should help you on your way with wide streets and welcoming and informative signs hasn’t quite caught in this area.

We cheated. We engaged the services of Xiao Liu.

Xiao Liu is a driver for a friend of ours. He came to Shenzhen from his native Guizhou some years ago following his brother who had found a lucrative line of work providing muscle to a rich, powerful and extremely unpopular plutocrat. Being a gentleman in so many ways, Xiao Liu didn’t take to this line of work and soon he found himself in new employment, conveying the Wu family round the town in their fleet of sleek black cars. Dropping Mrs Wu at tai chi and delivering the youngster to Kung Fu practice lacked some of the glamour of following a heavily armed group of bodyguards but then you also didn’t need quite the same speed of movement to avoid stray ordinance. He is an excellent driver and person of infinite patience and positive outlook and it is always a pleasure to travel with him, even though his sense of direction occasionally fails him.

Xiao Liu is barely twenty and his parents are in their forties. This means that we are the oldest people that he sees on a regular basis. He treats us with a mixture of respect and concern for the avoidance of our obviously imminent demise. This sometimes takes unexpected forms. He loves the movie Titanic and is convinced that we are holding things back from him. You’ve been to every country in the world. You must have been on

the Titanic. Our denials are treated with the level of scorn, which they clearly deserve.

So we set out. Through the Xiang Mi Hu Tunnel and we were out of the Zone in Longhua. We knew roughly where we were but there was no sign directing us to Yangtai Mountain. So we left the freeway and started cruising the streets of Longhua looking for directions.

This was factory town, dusty slightly shabby streets, and factory dormitories with rows of cotton trousers hanging on rows of coat hangers. Illegal taxis abounded. We stopped and asked directions from a group of Motor Bike Taxis. Easy. You go back the way you came and do a U turn under the freeway. Still no signs to Yangtai Mountain. Finally, we found one but it didn’t seem to be pointing to any discernable road. But we persisted, along an alley, over some roadworks and suddenly we were climbing. A few more minutes and there we were at the gates of the mountain park.

We set out, Xiao Liu’s exhortations on climbing safety and cardiac health ringing in our ears. He had offered to carry us to the top but this seemed excessive.

It was a cold sunny January day just before Chinese New Year. Perfect climbing weather. Many migrant factory workers resign from their jobs before Chinese New Year and sign back on after. Some take the opportunity to fit in a bit of extra holiday with their friends before going home to their families and all that implies after a year’s absence. So the paths were filled with laughing groups of factory workers in a holiday mood. This made the climb even more pleasant. It’s not a difficult climb and even we didn’t have a lot of trouble getting to the top in 45 minutes. The view from the top is very pleasant, not the great spectacular sea views that you get from Wutong Mountain, but very expansive. The area is under the control of the Guangdong Forestry Department and the Shenzhen Water Company. The forests are unlike the surrounding forests in that they retain a lot of original native vegetation. And some of the views through stands of oak and xiang tree over to the small reservoir, which is encompassed by the mountain, are nice. In common with so much of South China, animal life is abundant. You’ll be unlucky not to see a couple of troops of the ubiquitous monkeys remember safety etiquette and do not engage them in any way or even look them in the eye. Signs tell us that pythons are common we didn’t see any and that the pangolin is protected in the park. Good. This scaly creature is far too common on the plates of so-called wild food restaurants round the Pearl River Delta. And we’d be very surprised if a patient observer didn’t catch a glimpse of a civet cat or even a South China leopard cat. Both are common.

Address: Longhua Town Bao’an Buses: See below at Shiyan Hot Springs


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