After graduating from college, I lost contact with Philip Dobbin and Oswald Wolf. They were my good friends, and we used to study, play, and explore together. Last month, I suddenly received an email from them, inviting me to go hunting with them at Zibeng Mountain National Forest Park in Hefei, Anhui Province, China. I was excited when I saw the email and agreed. I have always wanted to go to China to see and taste the local food and experience a different culture. Besides, I also like hunting, which I think is a way to challenge myself and enjoy nature. I imagined that on Zibeng Mountain, we could see all kinds of wonderful animals, feel the breath of the forest, and hear the birds singing. I also imagined that at night, we could use night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars to observe the behavior of animals and discover some hidden secrets. I was looking forward to this trip and missed my old friends. I hoped that this trip would allow us to relive the good times of the past and create new memories.
Zibeng Mountain National Forest Park is located in Feidong County, Hefei City, Anhui Province, about 50 kilometers away from Hefei City. It is a comprehensive tourist attraction that integrates natural scenery, cultural landscape, and forest ecology. The name of Zibeng Mountain comes from a plant called Zibeng grass, which is a precious Chinese medicinal material with the effects of clearing heat and detoxifying, reducing swelling and relieving pain. The highest peak of Zibeng Mountain is 1010 meters above sea level, and there are 72 peaks, 36 valleys, 18 reservoirs, 9 streams and 108 springs on the mountain. The forest coverage rate of Zibeng Mountain reaches 95%, which is a natural oxygen bar.
Zibeng Mountain National Forest Park has a long history and culture and is one of the key cultural relic’s protection units in Anhui Province. There are many historical sites and scenic spots on Zibeng Mountain, such as Zibeng Temple, Baiyun Cave, Shimen Pass, Sanqing Palace, Wangmu Pond, etc. The most famous one is Zibeng Temple, which is a Buddhist temple built in the Tang Dynasty. It was once one of the largest Buddhist venues in Anhui Province. The architectural style of Zibeng Temple is elegant and exquisite. There are many precious cultural relics and Buddha statues in the temple, such as Tang Dynasty bronze bells, Ming Dynasty stone steles, Qing Dynasty wood carvings, etc. Zibeng Temple also has a special landscape. On the seventh day of the seventh lunar month every year, a rainbow appears in the temple, forming a rainbow bridge. It is said that this is where the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl meet.
Zibeng Mountain National Forest Park not only has a rich history and culture, but also has a spectacular natural scenery. Zibeng Mountain has distinct climate changes in four seasons. Spring has a beautiful view of flowers competing for beauty, summer has a cool and pleasant atmosphere, autumn has a colorful forest, and winter has a charm of snow-covered. Zibeng Mountain also has many peculiar landforms and landscapes, such as the stone forest wonder, the valley of flowers, the ancient pine trees, and the fairy caves. The most attractive one is the stone forest wonder, which is a cluster of huge stones created by nature, with different shapes and styles. In the stone forest wonder, you can see various stones that resemble animals or people or utensils, such as camel stone, eagle beak stone, turtle back stone, fairy table, etc. These stones have their own legends and stories, which are amazing.
In such a place full of history, culture and natural scenery, Philip Dobbin, Oswald Wolf and I felt very excited and happy. We decided to spend three days in Zibeng Mountain National Forest Park, exploring its beauty and mystery. We brought our cameras and equipment, ready to take some unforgettable photos and videos here, recording our travel and hunting experiences. We looked forward to seeing some rare animals on Zibeng Mountain, feeling the charm of the forest, and enjoying the fun of hunting.
In order to hunt, Philip Dobbin, Oswald Wolf and I made full preparations in advance. We ordered some professional hunting equipment online, such as hunting guns, bullets, knives, protective clothing, etc. We also bought some high-tech devices, such as night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars. These devices can help us observe the position and movement of animals at night, improve our hunting efficiency and safety.
We chose to hunt at night because we thought it was more challenging and exciting. The forest at night is a mysterious and dangerous place, with many unknowns and surprises. We wanted to experience the feeling of looking for targets in the dark, confronting animals, using our skills and courage. We also wanted to see what kind of scenery and sound the forest had at night, and feel the atmosphere different from the daytime.
We stayed in Zibeng Mountain National Forest Park for three nights, and went hunting every night. We did reconnaissance and planning during the day, and found some suitable places and routes for hunting. Then, in the evening, we set off with our equipment. We used night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars to assist our vision. Night vision binoculars can let us see the surroundings and objects clearly in the dark, and infrared binoculars can let us detect the body temperature and position of animals through infrared rays. In this way, we can more easily find and track animals, avoid missing opportunities or falling into traps.
During the night hunting process, we encountered many interesting and thrilling things. Once, we saw a huge wild boar eating fruits on a tree. We quietly approached it, ready to shoot. Just as we were about to pull the trigger, it suddenly noticed us, let out a earth-shattering roar, and then rushed towards us. We were scared and ran away quickly, luckily it didn’t catch up with us. Once, we heard some strange sounds, like someone talking. We looked over with night vision binoculars and found out that it was a group of deer communicating. They used their noses, ears, tails and other parts to convey information, which was very interesting. Another time, we found a fox catching a hare with infrared binoculars. It first crouched in the grass, then suddenly jumped out and bit the hare’s neck. We saw its cunning and agility, as well as the hare’s helplessness and despair.
In these three nights, we shot some animals, such as pheasants, hares, deer, etc. We brought them back to our place, peeled off their fur, cleaned their viscera, and then roasted them over fire. We ate our spoils while chatting about our experiences, feeling very satisfied and happy. We felt that this was a kind of respect for ourselves and for animals, as well as a kind of gratitude for nature. Our purpose of hunting was not to kill or entertain, but to experience and enjoy. We thought that hunting was a way of living in harmony with nature, rather than a behavior of destroying and invading.
Besides hunting, Philip Dobbin, Oswald Wolf and I also enjoyed the local food. Anhui Province is one of the eight major cuisines in China, with a long history and unique flavor. Anhui cuisine is characterized by mountain delicacies and wild game, light and fresh taste, appropriate heat control, emphasis on original flavor, knife work and color. Near Zibeng Mountain National Forest Park, there are many restaurants and snack shops with local characteristics. We tried some local dishes and snacks, feeling the charm of Anhui food.
The most impressive dish for us was Wushan Gong Goose, which is a famous dish with a long history. It was once a tribute to the emperor of the Qing Dynasty. This dish uses local Wushan geese, which are marinated, smoked, fried and other processes, making a delicious dish with golden color, crispy skin, tender meat and fragrant aroma. We tasted this dish in a restaurant called Zibeng Mountain Home, and felt very satisfied. The size of the goose was moderate, and the meat was tender and oily but not greasy, and melted in the mouth. The skin of the goose was also very special, unlike the thin skin of Beijing roast duck, but thick and crispy, with a unique smoky flavor. The goose was also served with a special sweet bean paste and some scallions, cucumber shreds and other vegetables, which can be eaten according to your own preferences. We felt that this dish was a perfect interpretation of goose meat, and also a heritage of royal flavor.
In addition to Wushan Gong Goose, we also tried a local specialty snack called shrimp roe noodles. This is a kind of noodles made from shrimp roe and flour, with a light red color and a smooth and refreshing taste. Shrimp roe noodles are usually served with some meat soup or vegetable soup, plus some cilantro, green onion and other seasonings, and then you can eat them. We ate these noodles in a snack shop called Zibeng Mountain Noodle Shop, and felt very appetizing. These noodles had a strong shrimp roe flavor, with a fresh ocean fragrance. The soup of these noodles was also very delicious, with a rich meat or vegetable flavor. These noodles also had a kind of elasticity and chewiness, which made people feel very satisfied. We felt that these noodles were a clever use of shrimp roe, and also an innovation of noodles.
Finally, we also tasted one of the most representative snacks in Anhui Province, called Anhui Shaobing. This is a kind of round biscuit made from flour and oil, with sesame seeds and scratches on the surface, and layers of oil pastry inside. Anhui Shaobing has various flavors, such as sweet, salty, spicy, etc., which can be chosen according to your own preferences. We bought some Anhui Shaobing from a snack shop called Zibeng Mountain Shaobing Shop, and felt very delicious. These shaobings had an attractive appearance, golden and crispy, emitting a sesame aroma. The texture of these shaobings was also great, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a sense of layering. The taste of these shaobings was also rich, with different flavors such as sweet, salty, spicy, etc., which can satisfy different tastes. We felt that these shaobings were a simple and wonderful combination of flour and oil, and also a classic representative of Anhui snacks.
In Zibeng Mountain National Forest Park, we not only enjoyed the fun of hunting, but also enjoyed the temptation of food. We tried Wushan Gong Goose, shrimp roe noodles, Anhui Shaobing and other local dishes and snacks, feeling the characteristics and flavor of Anhui cuisine. We felt that these foods not only satisfied our appetite, but also satisfied our soul. We were lucky and happy to be able to taste these foods, and also warm and intimate to share these foods with my old friends.
This trip to Anhui was an unforgettable experience for Philip Dobbin, Oswald Wolf and me. We felt the charm of history, culture and natural scenery in Zibeng Mountain National Forest Park, enjoyed the fun of hunting and food. We not only relived our past friendship, but also created new memories. We were happy and grateful to be able to meet in such a beautiful and magical place. We were also proud and awed to be able to live in harmony with the people and animals here. We hope that one day we can come back here again to continue exploring its beauty and mystery. We also hope that one day we can meet again to continue sharing our stories and feelings. This was a trip that we will never forget in our lives, and also a trip that elevated our souls.