Three hours south of Shanghai just beyond the scenic West Lake in Hangzhou lies a vast bamboo forest located in the hills of Moganshan. Away from tall skyscrapers and the chaotic noise of traffic, Moganshan provides the closest interaction with the beauty of untouched nature. Nestled deep inside the whistling bamboo trees and atop the 300 stone steps lies a tiny village and the boutique hotel, Naked Retreat. Now, don’t be fooled by the name of the hotel. The terms “naked retreat” identify with the eco-friendly aspects of providing organic foods and promoting “green” sustainability. The wonderful thing about staying at Naked Retreat is being surrounded by the ideology that everything is green friendly. From the deliciously all organic chinese meals (that you can request be cooked inside of your room by an “Ayi”) that is chinese food like you’ve never tried before to the eco-friendly bathroom amenities and amazingly serene location makes Naked Retreat one worth staying at.
The mornings here are peaceful like no other place. You wake up to the sounds of whistling bamboo trees as gusts of wind sway their branches from left to right. Rays of sunlight creak through your bamboo-built bungalow and kiss every inch of your skin awakening you with warmth. The subtle chirping birds and howling monkeys call from distances away to signal the start of a new day. Being miles away from any internet/cell phone connectivity, waking up here in Moganshan at Naked Retreat must be like waking up in heaven. As you wake, you are welcomed by the travelling scent of Doug’s freshly baked loaf of bread sitting inside a basket atop the kitchen table. Nothing is as cozy as being surrounded by the very basics of life given to you in the most organic and pristine way.
In the afternoons, you can hike through the bamboo forests and delve deep to find its hidden treasures. Along the way you’ll come across acres of tea plantations, butterflies and tree-top animals, chinese pavilions and temples, and maybe even run into a villager making their way back home. Being in Moganshan really cultivates an appreciation for nature and a feeling that you are surrounded by one of the world’s most majestic forests. It is here than you begin to realize and be touched by the simplicities of life and be without the materialistic items that we consume in our other modern society. It is here, amongst the wildness and purity of nature that our souls may begin to feel grounded and stripped of our material ideas and needs. When travel experts really suggest to “travel lightly” they really do mean that. But what they forget to imply is to travel with a clear mind and soul stripped from material longing and luxurious amenities. When we are without these things do we really begin to understand ourselves and our place in the universe.
“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” – Socrates
In my short time at Naked Retreat in Moganshan, I learned to appreciate the majesty of nature, grew to respect the world and resources it gives us, and left with an impression in my soul that undoubtedly came from just being surrounded by the whispering bamboo trees. It was as if the bamboo trees whispered their very own words of wisdom into my soul. Perhaps they whispered Mao Tse-Tung’s words, “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend.” –I have never seen more beautiful flowers bloom since.
Interested in staying at Naked Retreat? Check out their website at: http://www.nakedretreats.cn