So, when I heard our executive retreat would be at the naked Stables Private Reserve my first thought was good luck explaining THAT on my expense report. Yikes! No, you don't ride naked on the horses through the China countryside...ouch. The "naked" part refers to the natural, organic experience this resort creates in the Yangtze River Delta in the tiny town of Moganshan four hours outside Shanghai.
After the bus ride from Hell, where we were taking bets on how many times our bus would hit other cars (luckily only once!) we barreled up the mountain dodging log trucks on the hairpin turns. I put on my headphones and closed my eyes so as not to have a heart attack. Almost as scary as that bus ride in Vietnam. Why do I keep having these death defying bus experiences??? Luckily we made it there in one piece and didn't get lost like my peers did, wandering in the dark for hours. There's no GPS or cell coverage out in the wilds of China so kiss your ass good bye if you don't have good directions going into the trip.
As we entered the stone and wood lobby, I wondered how on earth did they build such a swanky (and eco-friendly) resort in the middle of nowhere China??? There were large villas and thatch roofed yurts dotting the hillsides along with stables on the 60 acres. Land Rover has one of their few "experience centers" where they will take you on a thrilling mountain ride in their cars--no thanks! One of my peers took the ride and his video shows an adventure I do not want to experience, hurling down mountain muddy roads to showcase the ruggedness of their product. No thanks, I'll take their word for it and, besides, I would never spend that much on a vehicle.
Speaking of vehicles, there are no cars allowed within the resort so you get around with the aid of golf carts. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to call the desk to get one sent to my Yurt so I set out to try and walk till I came upon one racing up and down the roads. As I walked with my bag, backpack, etc. I came upon the local ladies walking up the mountain to come to work at the resort. They laughed at me walking aimlessly and waved me to join them. I did and it amused them to no end. When a cart did race by with several members of my group, I waved good bye to my new friends and hopped on the cart to make the journey. Later in the day, I ran into one of my ladies in the resort and she gave me a huge smile. She won't forget this crazy Laowai any time soon!
In addition to horses, the resort offers several pools, spa services, pottery classes, hiking on paths, dumpling making classes (they were yummy!), archery and bars/restaurants galore. The food and service was very good. Whoever runs this resort, they know their stuff. Not inexpensive but worth every penny.
My Yurt was gorgeous and had it's own patio/outdoor shower and large round bed. I am totally bringing Thom and our friends, Patti and Larry, back here in October. While I don't relish the ride getting there (a long four hours in bad traffic getting out of Shanghai) you can take the train to Hangzhou and then get the resort to pick you up. I look forward to having some quality time in the countryside, wandering with Thom on the hillsides looking for pandas among the bamboo forest. I love our time in the cities exploring the street life and historical sites but I look forward to more time spent in the countryside exploring another side of our new home. Of course, it helps to stay in a high end resort with bathrooms and bars while I'm doing it. :)
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