Agatha Wood, Nelly Frederick and I are good friends from college. We are all adventurous and challenging people who often participate in various outdoor activities and exploration trips together. After graduation, we went our separate ways. Agatha went to the UK, Nelly went to Australia, and I stayed in the US. Although we are separated by distance, we still keep in touch, sharing our lives and work through email, phone or video chat. Last month, we decided to meet again and go hunting together on Fanjing Mountain in Tongren, Guizhou, China. This is a place we have always wanted to go but never had the chance to. It has amazing natural scenery and rich wildlife resources. We wanted to experience the thrill and fun of hunting at night, and feel the joy of living in harmony with nature. Of course, we also did not forget to taste the local food, try the special snacks of Tongren, and satisfy our taste buds. This was a travel plan that could both exercise our bodies and relax our minds. We were all very excited.
Fanjing Mountain is a high mountain in Tongren City, Guizhou Province, China. It has an altitude of 2472 meters and is one of the main peaks of the Wuling Mountain Range. It is known as the “City of Sky in China” because its summit is often shrouded in clouds, forming a unique cloud sea landscape. Fanjing Mountain not only has beautiful natural scenery, but also has a long history and culture. It is a comprehensive scenic area that integrates tourism, scientific research, religion, and folk customs.
Fanjing Mountain has rich biological resources and geomorphic types. It is called a “biological museum” and a “geological museum”. On Fanjing Mountain, we can see various strange rocks, canyons, waterfalls, caves and other landforms, such as mushroom stones, red cloud golden top, thin knife ridge and so on. Mushroom stone is a kind of stone pillar formed by weathering. It has a larger top and a smaller bottom, like a huge mushroom. Red cloud golden top is the highest peak of Fanjing Mountain. Its summit glows red at sunrise, like a fiery red cloud. Thin knife ridge is a narrow ridge about 3 kilometers long. There are deep cliffs on both sides. Walking on it is like walking on a knife edge.
Fanjing Mountain also has a strong religious atmosphere and mysterious legends. Fanjing Mountain is considered to be a holy land of Buddhism and Taoism, with many temples and Taoist temples, such as Wofosi, Baiyun Temple and so on. Wofosi is the largest temple on Fanjing Mountain, built in the Ming Dynasty, enshrining a 48-meter-long reclining Buddha statue. Baiyun Temple is the oldest Taoist temple on Fanjing Mountain, built in the Tang Dynasty, said to be Zhang Guolao’s Taoist site. Fanjing Mountain also has many myths and legends, such as the ancestor of all mountains, sleeping Buddha and so on. The ancestor of all mountains means that Fanjing Mountain is the ancestor of all mountains in China, because it was the first mountain formed when Pangu opened the sky and the earth. Sleeping Buddha means that the whole appearance of Fanjing Mountain is like a reclining Buddha statue, with its head in the northeast direction and its feet in the southwest direction.
Fanjing Mountain left a deep impression on us, it made us feel the nature’s magic and beauty and the splendid civilization of humanity. We learned more about Fanjing Mountain and respected it more, and we also became more curious and interested in China’s customs and culture.
Night hunting is an exciting and dangerous activity that requires enough courage and skill. On Fanjing Mountain, we chose an area suitable for hunting, prepared some necessary equipment, such as night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars. Night vision binoculars can let us see clearly the surrounding environment and animals in the dark, infrared binoculars can let us detect the body temperature and position of animals through infrared rays. This equipment gave us more advantages and confidence in night hunting.
We encountered various animals during night hunting, some of which we were familiar with, some of which we had never seen before. We saw a group of wild boars foraging on the grassland, a fox lurking in the woods, a deer drinking water by the stream, and a badger sleeping in a cave. We adopted different strategies according to different animals, sometimes waiting quietly, sometimes chasing quickly, sometimes avoiding carefully. We used weapons such as guns, bows, knives, etc., shooting, stabbing, catching, etc., to complete our hunting tasks. We also encountered some thrilling or interesting things, such as once we almost got hit by a furious buffalo, luckily, we dodged in time; another time we found a rare white peacock, which spread its beautiful feathers under the moonlight.
Night hunting made us feel a lot of different emotions and experiences. We felt the magic and beauty of nature, saw another side of Fanjing Mountain at night. We felt the preciousness and fragility of life, respected the existence of every living being. We felt the fun and difficulty of challenges, overcame our own fears and doubts. Night hunting was an unforgettable experience that made us know ourselves and nature better.
Tongren is a prefecture-level city in Guizhou Province, known as the “Pearl of Eastern Guizhou”. Tongren not only has natural wonders like Fanjing Mountain, but also has rich food resources. It is a place that makes people linger and forget to return. Tongren’s food is mainly snacks, with unique flavor and charm that make people unforgettable. In Tongren, we tasted the most famous ten local snacks, each one opened our eyes and appetites.
Shefan is one of the most representative snacks in Tongren, which is a dessert made of glutinous rice, peanuts, sesame, white sugar and so on. Shefan is shaped like a small round pot, with a golden and crisp surface and a soft and sweet interior. The name of Shefan comes from a local custom, every year on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, people gather together to eat Shefan, praying for good weather and abundant harvest.
Mung bean powder is another famous snack in Tongren, which is a cold dish made of mung beans, red chili, Sichuan pepper, salt and so on. The production process of mung bean powder is very complex, it requires soaking, grinding, steaming, drying and cutting the mung beans into thin shreds, then mixing them with chili oil and spices. Mung bean powder has a smooth and cool taste, spicy and sour, appetizing and refreshing.
Jiangkou rice tofu is a specialty of Jiangkou County in Tongren, which is a tofu made of rice flour and soybeans. Jiangkou rice tofu is characterized by its white as jade, tender as fat, smooth and not greasy. Jiangkou rice tofu can be eaten in different ways, such as cold mixing, frying, stewing, soup and so on. Jiangkou rice tofu has high nutritional value, containing rich protein, calcium, iron and so on.
Tangmayuan is a popular dessert in Tongren, which is a small ball made of glutinous rice flour and white sugar. Tangmayuan is easy to make, just knead the glutinous rice flour and water into a dough, divide it into small pieces, roll it into balls, boil it in boiling water until cooked, then dip it in white sugar and sesame seeds. Tangmayuan has a soft and sweet taste, with a crisp layer of sesame seeds on the outside.
In addition to these snacks, Tongren also has many other delicious snacks, such as beef noodles, oil tea, oil cake, intestine noodles and so on. These snacks have their own production methods, taste characteristics and nutritional values, suitable for different people or occasions to eat. We praised them after tasting these snacks in Tongren, feeling that Tongren is a food paradise.
This hunting trip was a rare experience that made our friendship stronger, made us more aware and appreciative of nature and culture, and exercised and relaxed our body and mind. We saw the amazing sea of clouds and peaks on Fanjing Mountain, felt the mysterious legends and beliefs. We experienced excitement and fun in night hunting, respected and cherished every living being. We tasted delicious and tasty snacks in Tongren, satisfied and happy our taste buds. This was a trip full of surprises and gains that made us unforgettable.
Fanjing Mountain and Tongren food are two highlights of Guizhou Province and one of the charms of China. We are very grateful to this country and this place for providing us with such a rare opportunity to experience their charm and style personally. We are also very grateful to our classmates who are our best friends who accompanied us through this wonderful time. We hope to have the opportunity to meet them again in the future to explore more places together and share more stories. This is our sincere wish and plan.