Bamboo dreams in Sichuan Photo©Ingrid Booz Morejohn
Just back from Thailand and I'm already longing for nature and outdoor delights. Came across a company called Naked Retreats that runs small cabins in the mountains of Moganshan in southern Zhejiang Province, 50-60 km north of Hangzhou and a 3 hour drive from Shanghai. Moganshan used to be the hill station/summer resort of choice for expatriates and the Shanghai moneyed classes before 1949, a welcome retreat during scorching summer months. The crumbling ruins of old villas and decaying swimming pools can still be seen today and I'm sure if you listen hard enough that you might hear the faint sounds of whacked tennis balls, clinking cocktail glasses and children's laughter amid the bamboo. For anyone nostalgic for pre-1949 days check out Shanghai photojournalist Deke Erh's (Erh Dongqiang) and American writer Tess Johnston's books on Western architecture in China. They have a number of period photographs from Moganshan in a few of their books. (If you are in Shanghai visit The Old China Hand Reading Room, 27 Shaoxing Road, or The Deke Erh Arts Center, Lane 210, Taikang Road).
I know that Moganshan is a teeny-weeny bit too far from Chengdu but it's the idea that I like. There is an entire world of beautiful bamboo-dreamy places just outside of Chengdu waiting to be explored and I would like to find a country house and family where I could spend weekends. In an area where there are opportunities for long walks away from freeways, cars and noise. The food, being in Sichuan, will of course be very good, no need for luxury accommodation either, I'm not picky. Any ideas? And for all those who wondered, the naked in Naked Retreat is "no frills" not "no clothes".