NYU Shanghai Liberal Studies freshman Zach Hollo intends to pursue a career in international journalism after earning his degree. He's already getting his out there. Not only has he contributed to zaiShanghai (Hong Kong: China’s beacon of free speech, Why Pudong?), but he's also been writing travel pieces for the China Travel Blog as an intern at Ctrip (think China's version of Expedia + TripAdvisor).
So far, Zach's written about: his adventures in Shanghai train stations (there's more than one, he learns); stumbling into a free tour of Harbin; enduring a creepy-doll-and-bad-shower scene in a sketchy Hong Kong hostel; exploring the ancient canals and back alleys of Tongli; and climbing the sacred mountain of Huang Shan (accompanied by countless curious Chinese tourists and a few hotel creepy-crawly pests).
Each post is worth a read, and though it wasn't easy to pick out favorite moments, we present you with a couple of choice cuts below. First, a teaser from Zach's Tongli piece:
The tour ended with a bizarre bird fishing display in which six cormorants were tethered to the sides of a boat. A grumpy man with a cigarette in his mouth manned the boat and released the large black birds two at a time. The birds immediately dove their heads into the water and emerged with fish in their mouths. But they could not swallow—each had a knot tied tightly around its neck, constricting its throat so that the fish did not fit through. The show was disturbing to say the least. Each bird would stretch its neck into the air, and jerk its head up and down in a hopeless struggle to try to eat the fish. They seemed to be choking on the fishes they could not get into their throats, suffocating, their writhing bodies becoming more and more violent.…
The man with the cigarette reached out a pole with a lasso on the end and reeled each bird in. Once he got his hands on a bird, he grabbed it by the throat and shoved his hand into its mouth, snatching the fish and tossing it back into the water. Catch-and-release never seemed so brutal. Our ride ended and our rower looked so happy she could have just won the lottery, waiving in ecstasy as we got off.
And finally, a passage from Zach's Haung Shan ascent:
The next two to three hours were a leg/back/morale-breaking walk up a endless stone stairway that has since blurred in my mind into a very-forgettable memory of exhaustion. What was most disheartening were the tiny old Chinese men constantly passing us carrying heavy bags of supplies and bamboo poles. I am 18 years old and have never felt so nonathletic.
Upon reaching the top, however, every last step was worth it. The mountain, which is known to have inspired many of China's famous landscape paintings and poets like Li Bai, is even more beautiful than its reputation.
We took in the view for a couple minutes, then ate the rice lunch Dave packed us that morning. One thing that struck me was how much man-made infrastructure there was amidst the natural beauty of the mountain; cement walkways paved the mountainside, and the hotels at the peak resembled a city on top of the world.
As we walked the path, Chinese tourists constantly stopped us to ask if they could have their picture taken with us. Addie is a black man, and they were especially interested in getting a picture with him. I felt like the drummer of a band, busy signing autographs but not quite as sought after as the lead singer. Often they would first get a picture with just Addie, then usher in the rest of the foreigners for a second shot. I couldn't help but wonder which one they would choose to frame and hang on the wall at home.
Check out all of Zach's China Travel posts here and keep an eye out for future "Where's Hollo?" roundups here at zaiShanghai.