Until today I still don’t know how I found this place. I just remember that we had a free weekend and we wanted to go somewhere ”nearby” (which can be quite difficult in China) but anyway I checked all possible travel guides and found nothing but places we’ve already been to. So I simply looked at the Google maps and search for nearby places. I found a big lake with some island in the middle. So I thought let’s go there and see what happens. So we did and it was amazing….
Dongjiang lake lies in the southeastern part of Hunan province. Hunan is very popular province. It has a lot of tourist places included Zhang jia jie mountains, one of the most beautiful places in China. And guess which famous (most probably the most famous) man was born here? Yes, it was the great Chairman Mao himself.
The name Hunan actually means ”South of the lake”. The province is really named after a lake but not after this one. There is another lake – Dongting which lies on the northern part of the province near to the boarder of the other province Hubei. It’s quite funny because Hubei is also named after Dongting lake. Hubei means ”North of the lake”. So these two provinces are named after the location relative to the lake. Well it’s a bit confusing so let’s get back to the Dongjiang lake
Traveling to Dongjiang lake was bit adventure. Quite unusual for us because I always get as much information as I can about our destinations but Dongjiang seemed to be very non touristic place as I couldn’t find any decent info. One thing why we decided to go was that the lake is near the Chenzhou city where we could comfortably get by speed train in about 70 minutes.
We took a taxi from the train station to the lake. It was about 60 km. If you want to go the island you must take a boat of course. Buying tickets was quite confusing but we were lucky, some nice lady saw that we are in troubles. She spoke English and helped us to buy a ticket (as we made this trip about two years ago and my Chinese wasn’t that good yet). After all it wasn’t as non touristic as I thought but most of the visitors were Chinese. Actually all of them were Chinese we were the only foreigners there. But almost all of them just went to the island to visit a caves and then left again.
Once we got to the island all those tour groups went to the caves but we followed a tiny path leading to the local hotel where we booked a room. It was nice walk along the lake shore. First we reached a floating reception. To be clear, the reception and the hotel itself are on the different places. Floating reception means that the reception was placed on the lake surface. After checked in they gave us a ride to the hotel. It was quite uphill. During the ride it was clear that this stay will be exceptional. And it was. We drove through the never ending alleys of orange trees and tea fields.
Hotel staff was very friendly, even if nobody spoke English as usual. It was the bungalow style hotel. Each bungalow had its own wooden terrace with grill and bubble bath. We were lucky again. Only a few other people stayed that night in the hotel so we had amazing privacy in lovely wooden bungalow surrounded by old pine trees with beautiful view to the lake below and to the sky full of stars later in the night. I really didn’t feel like being in China. It looked more like Croatia 🙂
As I mentioned above there was a cave on the island and we decided to visit it the first day after our arrival even if it was quite late already. The decision really paid off. As all the tourists already left the island we were the only people inside the caves. It was truly amazing. And quiet! Only the drops of water falling down from the stalactites…
You know there are a lot of beautiful caves in China. I love visiting caves so as the Chinese…But Chinese people also love to hear their echo. And what place is better than a cave to hear it? So visiting caves in China is very noisy experience. All you can hear is yelling and shouting which is very disturbing (some people even smoke inside the caves but it’s another story) and it simply shows the lack of respect to the nature. How sad but silence just isn’t in Chinese vocabulary at all and being alone in huge caves is very very rare…
Dinner time approached and we had a chance to taste a real Hunan cuisine. It was super tasty and we ate too much as usual 🙂 Next morning we paid for a helicopter flight. I really don’t know why I agreed with it. I have a phobia of flying. Never flew in helicopter before. I was scared but I must admit that the view was spectacular. Pilot took us above the lake so we could see the whole lake from a bird’s perspective.
It was time to pack up and go back home again. Such a shame I would stay here longer but we didn’t have time. While we were waiting in the port for the boat I bought some fresh fruit and also dried fish from local women. I think it was the first place in China where they were selling only local products not a bullshit such as toys or selfie sticks.
Dongjiang lake was one of our most beautiful trips in China and I am sure this wasn’t our last visit because this amazing place offers lot more.
TIP: The hotel on the island is Scenery Retreats Dongjiang lake Villa Resort and can be found on Booking.com
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