Weekend Trip Recap Part I: We started our trip with a night in Hangzhou, at the eccentrically decorated Milan hotel (carpeted doors and walls?) From there, we took a bus to the city of Tongxi, at the foot of the Yellow Mountain area. The ride was smooth, with the exception of the three people throwing up the whole way in the seats in front of us. (Something they ate?) From Tongxi, we got on a minibus to Tongkou, which sits near the entrance gate to the mountains. We showed the bus driver our hotel information there. He responded by pulling to the curb and telling us to get out soon after we'd gotten into town. We were confused, as our hotel was nowhere in site, but then we saw that we'd been dropped in front of "Mr. Cheng's Restaurant," with its welcoming "English Speaking Tourist Information" sign. Mr. Cheng himself came right out to help us and before long, he'd gotten us bus tickets for our return trip, driven us to our hotel, and taken us to the Emerald Valley scenic area.
The valley was beautiful. It was the site of some of the filming of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and had great hiking through the mountains, along some of the clearest water I've seen in China. There were sparkling blue pools of water and waterfalls every few meters. Along certain bridges and gates, padlocks were hanging. These were put up by couples who, following tradition, threw the key away so their love will always be locked in place there.
We finished the day with a great dinner (and Huangshan Beer) at Mr. Cheng's. More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/4024?size=All&startIndex=0 and more of the trip to come soon.