We’re not sure what it says about our city, but everyone seems as keen as mustard to get out of Shanghai whenever they get the chance. Is it something we said?
Anyway, those who are pining for a stroll through a Chinese village, a hike up a mountain or a visit to a minority group should consider signing up for one of the getaways offered by YANA, a local travel company which runs regular trips to all corners of the country. Shanghaiist spoke to YANA’s intrepid leader Christy about bullfighting, cannibalism and the singing of love songs.
Age, job, and where are you from? I’m 27, the owner of an outdoors club in Shanghai, and originally from Zhejiang province.
Tell us about your store. Apart from our tours, we sell hiking and adventure equipment such as tents, sleeping bags and backpacks. We’re the agent of Lafuma, the big outdoor brand in France.
How did YANA get started? From my personal interest in travelling. Gradually I had the idea of opening a club to help fans of the outdoors –- including foreigners — to explore the “real China”.
Most memorable moment on a trip? There’s always a memorable moment. On a recent trip to Guizhou and Guangxi we found ourselves stuck in the crowds in Judong Town — we were told that a bullfight festival was going on. Getting off the bus we walked to a street side to watch proceedings, and in no time at all we were surrounded by at least ten thousand local people. They were standing on the street, the hillside and even sitting on the trees. Everyone was wearing traditional clothes — so many beautiful women wearing embroidered jackets, pleated skirts and hand-worked silver headdresses. In the end we were just one metre away from the onlookers cheering on the fighting bulls. But the villagers around us were watching us more than they were watching the action. I think the yellow hair and blue eyes were a real novelty for them.
The most difficult moment? I’m looking forward to the most difficult moment. It’ll be a challenge, I’m sure.
Good travellers are usually adventurous when it comes to food. But is there anything you wouldn’t eat? I eat everything except human being.
Shanghaiist is hopeless at putting up a tent. Does this mean we wouldn’t be suitable to travel with YANA? Travelling with YANA is very easy. We arrange food, accommodation, almost everything. Our experienced guides teach travellers how to put up a tent, pack a sleeping bag and the other skills you need to handle during a camping trip. Furthermore before each trip we have a briefing so that everyone is fully prepared for the conditions. But this doesn’t mean you don’t need to do anything!
Can you recommend some good weekend trips out of Shanghai?
- A caving trip in a village in Zhejiang province. There are plenty of great destinations to choose from.
- A weekend around Longsheng terrace and Yangshuo. It’s a bit rushed for just two nights but still worth it.
- A weekend in a monastery in Zhejiang province. A great opportunity to experience monastic life.
What future destinations do you have planned for YANA trips? We have so many plans because China is so big! Our plans for the next three months include Xinjiang and the Silk Road. And next year we hope to do a road trip across China.
How would you describe the typical kind of person who goes on one of your adventures? All the members share similar characteristics. They’re easygoing, open-minded, fearless, have a love of nature, a love of laughing, dare to try food they’ve never seen … and drink a lot.
Short and sharp:
- What do you like most about Shanghai? I can get everything I want in Shanghai.
- What don’t you like about Shanghai? The food.
- So, if you don’t like Shanghai food, what do you like? Guizhou, Canton, Hakka and Italian food … a lot of favorites — everything but Shanghai food!
- Ever owned a pet? Never. I was bitten by a goose when I was very little and that made me scared of animals.
- Think of a number between 1 and 100. 6
- What do you currently have in your pocket? Um … a handkerchief
- What’s your favourite month in the year? June. Not only is it my birth month but the weather is warm.
- What destination would you most like to visit? Italy. In search of the best meal in the world.
- What would you be most likely to sing at a KTV bar? Only love songs — the sad ones.
- What would you like to be doing in 5 years? Helping our members explore more of China, producing a guide book like Lonely Planet (but one with more detail and useful information about this country), travelling around the world and writing a book to help the Chinese explore the outside world, and getting married and hopefully having twins (a boy and a girl).
The YANA Outdoors Club is at 197 Julu Lu. Tel: 6384 1771. Mob: 13061759149. For details of upcoming trips, visit www.withyana.com or email Christy.
Interview is a regular feature on Shanghaiist. Know someone in Shanghai you think would make for a good interview? Email tips(@)shanghaiist.com.