A spring weekend in Danshan Chisui

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of Ningbo Focus. 

Spring is just around the corner. Soon the weather will get warmer, the days longer, and trees all around Ningbo will erupt in displays of beautiful blossom.

To truly appreciate this seasonal awakening you need to get out of the city and into the some of the mountain scenic spots that surround Ningbo. And the wonderful Danshan Chishui – nestled in the Siming mountain range, around 1.5 hour’s drive from Ningbo – is the perfect place for a weekend getaway.

Like all scenic spots in the area, you need your own transport to access and explore it, making it fairly tricky for non-driving ex-pats to get to.

To counter this, we stayed at the Persimmon Lodges, a collection of Swedish-style wooden chalets that have been built on the outskirts of an ‘ancient’ village and come with all the mod-cons you need for a comfortable rural break from the city. The team running the lodges can arrange transport for groups from Ningbo (prepare yourself for a breathtakingly twisty-turny journey up through the mountains) or a pick-up from Yuyao train station.

The area around the chalets offers uplifting views of mountains, river valleys and bamboo forests, which just beg to be explored by foot. The walking is good, although like many scenic areas in China you will be following pre-determined concrete paths. When we visited the area wasn’t too crowded although don’t go expecting a rural idyll completely away from the company of others – the fact it’s a designated scenic area means that there are plenty of weekend visitors.

The village itself is still alive and functioning much as it would have, although as more and more tourism comes to the area who knows how long that will last. Meanwhile, the locals (who seem to be mainly older folk) are extremely friendly and many are happy to attempt conversation with you in their indecipherable Yuyao dialect. Others merely watch quietly as you pass, presumably curiously amused as to why we strange people would want to come and gawk at their unassuming little village.

And all around, the delicate pink blossom-covered persimmon trees contrast with the lush green of the mountains, reminding you that winter is over and that warmer days are on their way.

Get there: arrange a car either from Ningbo or Yuyao train station.
Stay: Swedish-style cabins. For more information visit the Persimmon Lodges website.
Do: hike around the mountains or take a disposable BBQ for lunch al-fresco.

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