By Benjamin Cohen
Everyone’s been talking about Moganshan lately, but it was only last weekend that we joined up with a few friends for a jaunt through its bamboo forests. This historic expat retreat, three hours from Shanghai, has enough cool mountain air and shimmering lakes to revive any weary urbanite.
While Moganshan has plenty of hotels, we opted for a newly refurbished, carbon conscious cabin by Naked Retreats (and no, it was not that kind of naked retreat).
The converted 80-year-old wooden farmhouse is dubbed the Bamboo Bungalow. It easily sleeps 14, although the recommended occupancy is 6 to 10. The fully stocked pantry and included breakfast well justifies the weekend rate of RMB 5,000 per night. The kitchen also has an oven, perfect for batchloads of brownies and beef roasts. A friendly aiyi was on hand to help clean up our messes, (she also skinned and gutted a chicken killed by our dog, Saffy). When not gorging on grilled meat and beer, we relaxed on an oversized sofa to watch movies.
Two of Naked Retreat’s founders, Gabriela Lo and Evan Lai, stopped by to chat over a game of Cranium. Evan explained their mission to protect the local environment. They actively educate locals and plan to set up a community Roots & Shoots program. Even the aiyi was hip to their mission. (She scolded us for putting recyclables in the wrong bin).
Outside, the mist hung in the forest like a scene from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Small footpaths wound their way over creeks and through dense bamboo forest. Best of all, there were no crowds. Instead, we saw turn of the century stone houses and tranquil lakes. Be sure to read about Moganshan’s history. It began around 700 BC with legendary swordsmith Gan Jiang and his wife Mo Ye, which whom the mountain was named after. In the early 1900’s, expats flocked to the mountain to escape the summer heat, built houses, and even set up their own governing association.
The best way to get to Moganshan is to rent a driver and car. Dan suggests calling 96822 for Dazhong Car Rental in Shanghai. When renting a driver, make no assumptions. Ours did not have a map or a sense of direction. But fear not, you can print Chinese directions to Naked Retreats. For the more adventurous, Moganshan Lodge has instructions on taking trains, planes and buses.
Naked Retreats, Shanghai Office
Lane 248 Taikang Road, No 30 2/F, Shanghai. Tel: +86 21 5465 9577.
Songliang Shanzhuang, Yin Shan Jie, Moganshan. Tel: +86 (0572) 803 3011. Web: moganshanlodge.com.