Boredom is not an option when Daniel Daugherty takes us on brisk jaunt up Huangdao’s highest peak, Zushan. Admiration for the many curiousities along the way is, however, optional.
Looking to get out of the house, but don’t feel like going all the way to Laoshan? Or maybe, like me, your six-pack has turned into a mini-keg. Either way, Zhushan Park has you covered. It can be an easy trip up the mountain or a relaxing stroll along paved lanes. And if walking really isn’t your thing, there’s a tram to pick you up and drop you off at various points throughout.
Located way out on the ragged, bloody edge of Huangdao’s developed area, you’ll get a tour of the area’s many factories and empty apartment buildings on the way there. For added enjoyment, make bets with your friends on how soon residents will move in. That way, you have a built-in reason to go back to Zhushan a second time.
Not that you’ll need the excuse. Zhushan is a perfectly pleasant day trip. It’s just enough to get your heart-rate up a little, with plenty to see and do, and still be home five hours after walking out the door.
After you pay the surprisingly steep 45RMB entry fee, you have the choice of waiting for the next tram or just walking on your own. If you intend to see everything in the park, the tram is a no-brainer. If you just want to hike straight up and back, the walk won’t set you back on time or energy. For families with little ones, you’ll probably find the tram is a must. Families will also appreciate the drink vendors at various places inside the park.
Now, I should mention that I’m new in China. Three months ago, I was living in South Korea, where people take the business of walking up a mountain VERY SERIOUSLY. Distractions and frivolity are discouraged where mountains are concerned. With that in mind, Zhushan had some unexpected stuff going on. Most notable was “grass skiing.” I didn’t see this activity happening, so, sadly, I still don’t know what it is.
Something I did see, though, was a kind of waterslide made of marble tile. I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering about the pain threshold of an average Chinese person’s backside before discovering that people go down by riding inflatable rafts. Too bad it was still the off season, or I would have totally gone raft-sliding down the mountainside.
Another pleasant surprise was the Wisdom Garden. While not technically a garden, someone did have the wisdom to commission stylized portraits of famous thinkers and creators. Included among a bunch of faces I didn’t recognize were obvious renderings of Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, and – inexplicably – someone who looks like US president Andrew Jackson. I couldn’t confirm it by my deadline, so if you go up there, please bring a $20 bill with you to do a side-by-side comparison.
Once you go higher up the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with some picturesque views of the surrounding countryside and the sprawl of Huangdao. I was fortunate enough to go up on a day after rain, so the air quality allowed excellent visibility. There was a large viewing platform, ideal for having a picnic, before heading up to the highest part of the trail.
The best-known attraction at the park is the Bodhi Temple, but it’s located rather far off the main route. If you intend to see the temple, I recommend making use of the tram to go easy on your legs. A temple visit can add 3km to your walk!
Getting to Zhushan is a piece of cake. If you have a car, you can just ignore the rest of this paragraph. If you don’t have a car, a public bus can take you up to the front gate, or you have the option of taking a taxi. Leaving, however, is a bit trickier. It’s too remote to expect a taxi, and your Didi app may not find any available drivers in the area. You’ll probably have to wait for the bus to take you somewhere more populated, where you can then try your luck with the taxis.
However you go about getting there, I hope you get to see what grass skiing is all about.