2012年3月6日 星期二

A tale of two mountains

可惜胡適跟我一樣 都還沒去過

A tale of two mountains

Tourism in China comes in all sorts of colours, but green is not normally one of them. China may leave western visitors feeling blue, seeing red or sunk in a black rage – but few go home raving about how green the place is.


Yet improbable as it may sound, one of the world’s most eco-friendly resorts recently opened near Shanghai – possibly the worst-served major city in the world, from the point of view of proximate natural beauty spots. The resort, Naked Stables – which uses loo water to power the room heaters and has walls made partly of rubbish – is working to be certified the world’s greenest resort outside the US by the US Green Building Council, under its prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design programme.


For Rmb1,800 ($286) per night, the nature-starved masses of Shanghai can stay in a mud hut at Naked Stables, under a roof of bamboo thatch, with an unpredictable hot water supply and toilet water that is slightly brown in hue, because the resort recycles 100 per cent of its water. For entertainment, they can watch bamboo grow: the resort is surrounded by a forest whose bamboo grows up to a metre per day. Scant wonder the New York Times recently named the local area – Moganshan, a hill station for Europeans and gangsters in the 1930s – one of the world’s 45 top places to visit in 2012.

虽然听起来令人难以置信,但是,世界最具环境友好性的度假村之一近期在上海附近开业了。在全球 各大城市中,就周边自然景点而论,上海大概排在末位。裸心谷(Naked Stables)度假村利用厕所里的水为房间取暖器供电,墙壁的部分材料为废弃物。目前,该度假村正致力于获得美国绿色建筑委员会(US Green Building Council)权威的“能源与环境设计先锋”(LEED)评估体系下的一项认证:全球(美国以外)顶尖绿色度假村。

After four concrete-crazed years in Shanghai, I think the resort is perfectly heavenly: hidden hot tubs on secluded hilltops; private massage huts on stilts in the forest; an outdoor jacuzzi that beckons in a snowstorm. Expat appeal is a given.

花上1800元人民币(合286美元),渴望拥抱自然的上海市民就能在裸心谷的夯土小屋里住上 一晚,置身于竹子屋顶下,享受时断时续的热水供应,而由于该度假村对水资源进行百分百的循环利用,卫生间里的水呈淡褐色。在娱乐方面,他们可以观看竹子的 生长。该度假村地处一片林海之中,这里的竹子生长迅速,最快的一天能长一米。难怪该度假村所在的莫干山能够入选《纽约时报》(New York Times)最近出炉的2012年“全球45个最值得去的地方”榜单。在上世纪30年代,莫干山既是欧洲人的避署胜地,也是土匪的啸聚之所。

But will the Chinese über-wealthy – who single-handedly drive the world’s gold, diamond and bling markets these days – aspire to a night in a yurt, when it could be the Waldorf Astoria? Some of them already have had a more than passing acquaintance with pounded earth walls, from their days out in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. A mud hut tends to have the most charm for those who have never lived in one. China may not be quite ready yet for rustic.


Hummer road hogs

然而,中国的巨富们——他们如今独力推动着国际黄金、珠宝和奢侈品市场——在本来可以选择上海 外滩华尔道夫酒店(Waldorf Astoria)的情况下,会渴望在蒙古包里过夜吗?他们中有些人在文革期间下过乡,熟悉的夯土墙壁对他们而言不仅仅是过去的回忆。通常来说,土屋子对那 些从来没住过这种房子的人最有吸引力。乡村特色在中国恐怕一时半会儿还流行不起来。

Don’t get me wrong: the Chinese touring classes are keen on nature – so long as it comes with staircases instead of dirt paths and a souvenir shop every few hundred metres.


In my quest to commune with what passes for the environment in overcrowded, overworked and over-ambitious eastern China, I took my tween-aged girls recently to climb a famous Chinese mountain, Yandangshan, which has since come to be known in our household as “the mountain resort from hell”.


There was nothing wrong with the hill in question. Yandangshan has all the attributes of peaks, waterfalls and caves and throws in a good helping of dangling suspension bridges over dramatic gorges, Buddhist nunneries perched halfway up sheer cliffs and temples sunk deep in underground caverns. In short, not the kind of thing one could see in the Cairngorms.


The problem was not nature, or even the humans who chose to invade it in hordes on the first day of the lunar new year – wearing the standard Chinese mountaineering uniform of stiletto heels and satin hotpants for the ladies, pink tutus and plastic swords for the little guys; and a cane and scowling visage for grandma.


What really got to us were the cars. For a place dedicated to hiking, visitors to Yandangshan spend an inordinate amount of time engaged in an insane and peculiarly Chinese form of road racing. The bigger the car, the worse the behaviour: those in million-renminbi cars seemed to think that lane discipline was for Toyotas. Overtaking on the wrong side of the road, around a blind bend in a snowstorm: isn’t that what mountains are for? Ask the owner of the stretch Hummer hogging our hotel car park: he really knows how to rough it.


By the time we got back to Shanghai, a city scarcely renowned for traffic safety, we breathed a sigh of relief to be back where people run red lights and target pedestrians on zebra crossings – but mostly drive on the right side of the road.

让我们觉得气恼的是那些小汽车。雁荡山是一个徒步旅行胜地,但旅游者在路途上要花掉过多的时 间,而且要经历疯狂而古怪的中国式公路竞赛,才能到达这里。那些小汽车体型越大就越疯狂,那些驾着价值百万人民币豪车的人似乎认为,行车规则是为丰田 (Toyota)那种车制定的。在大雪天里一个急转弯的地方超速逆向行驶:在山里不就应该这样吗?问问那辆在我们所住酒店停车场横冲直撞的加长悍马的车主 吧,他完全懂得怎么在公路上撒野。

Don’t bet on rustic


Will Moganshan ever meet Yandangshan? Ask the guy with the stretch Hummer. When he parks it next to a yurt we will all know that green has finally come to Chinese tourism. But for the moment, you won’t catch me going long on rustic.