Solvang Village Moganshan
Travel is such a big part of our lives these days. Whether you are an expat in Shanghai or a local, the travel industry in China has tremendoesly increased these last few years.
With that travel comes a lot of waste, pollution, destruction of natural habitats, animal cruelty, ... you name it.
With these new series of articles, we'd like to introduce you to some parts of Asia where hotels, communities, organisations try to counteract these negative consequences of discovering new things and work hard to make this industry more sustainable and ecologically friendly.
We learn about these places through personal thoughts of people who haved experienced it.
SOLVANG VILLAGE MOGANSHAN
As I barely landed back in Shanghai early September I got a message from Sunny, who is the owner of a boutique hotel called Solvang Village in the mountains of Moganshan. Just a 3 hour ride from the city.
Sunny and I have talked earlier this year about Zer’0Waste coming to their establishment and train their staff on how to make the hotel eco-friendlier, but also, Zero Waste.
So when I got the text with the invitation for the weekend of September 15-16th, I was happy to go back to the bamboo forests, and rural countryside.
I embarked on my train Saturday early morning, with my reusable water bottle, my breakfast in my cotton bag and some snacks for the train ride (as most of you might know, I love eating). While I was riding the train and then later the cab ride, I was listening to an incredible podcast of someone who had all sorts of chronic diseases such as, chronic fatigue, lime disease, liver problems, ... you name it. After hitting rock bottom, and having her doctor send her antibiotics to inject herself so that she could ‘heal’ she decided to quit it all, give her body the chance to heal itself. She left the ‘perfect’ job, the ‘perfect’ apartment, partner and friends behind to retreat in nature, and heal slowly but steadily away from all the negative vibrations she found herself at in the city.
What she spoke about hit a cord in my being and when I got to Solvang Village, I knew I had made the right choice to come. First you are warmly being greeted by Yan, who is the one who talks to all the guests and manages the hotel. She’s the who told me that Sunny built this hotel himself (with some help of course) over two years. Every material chosen for the hotel was carefully selected. Local, natural materials were preferred. You can even see photos of the constructionperiod. You can take multiple hikes from there, but the one that I would come back to do, is the one where you go to the summit of the mountain, where an old couple lives with their chickens and gardens, protecting the bamboo forest that hosts them.
Then Yan showed me to the room up the second floor, perched on the mountain hill with an incredible view over the bamboo forest.
I spent the day walking around the hotel, taking note of daily practices, eco-friendly habits that were already implemented, and going around the hotel to see what is possible in terms of space and area for an educational playground or permaculture projects.
Inspired by the podcast in the morning, I decided to pluck one type of plant I saw around and see what these plants could be used for. We often forget that nature already has all the solutions when it comes to our health and well-being, yet we so often just go for the bad chemical products just because of marketing and false selling claims.
In the evening you’re invited to try the local beer in Moganshan with a delicious Chinese meal. Options are multiple, there’s even a traditional oven-baked pizza, other types of western food, multiple Chinese dishes, … Absolutely amazing. Their fried beans and tofu is just H E A V E N.
I decided to go up the terrace right above the restaurant to enjoy my last sips of beer, complete silence, the only thing you hear are the insects in the background, the swaying of the bamboo forest and the low talking of the people downstairs.
Just soaking it all in before diving into my comfortable bed, windows and door of my bedroom wide open.
In the morning I thought I’d enjoy the little pool before heading into the workshop with the staff members.
There’s a small water stream coming from the top of the mountain down near the hotel. Sunny decided to create a natural pool by creating a stone basin to keep the water for a bit, before it trickles down to water reserve down to the hotel.
I have to say, sitting in that water between the tree roots, the mountain soil and stones, I hadn’t feel so connected to nature in a VERY long time. I saw myself again being completely part of it. I felt like a child. So secure. So grounded. And absolutely free.
Then, this line from the podcast came back to me:
“I feel we have to be prepared for what we’re asking for, because it’s usually greater than where we are right now. You’re getting all that ‘preparation’ (~ hard times, struggles, doubts, hard work) to be in that space and being able to handle it."
This definitely resonates my experience since coming to Shanghai 4 years ago, and being able to looking back and say: Alright, I get it now: this was all preparation, we're just at the beginning right now.
In the afternoon, I sat down with the team members of Solvang Village and we talked about the environmental context, the action plans we have reached so far, the steps we have ahead, the system that needs to be created in order to shift the way we work into an efficient and streamlined process.
But what surprised me in a beautiful way, is that even after long hours of training and workshop, the conversation on creating an impact on a bigger level continued. The staff members were not ready to end the conversation. We talked politics, school education, empowering our local communities, and so forth.
As the evening started to fall and heavy rain started to pour down in the valley, I sat in the taxi on my way to the train station and feeling so certain that I was just at the beginning of it all.
Zer’0Waste has been around for almost two years, we have achieved quite some milestones already, but guys, my gut feeling is telling me to sit tight and stay grounded.
We still got work to do.
Podcast: Expanded by Lacy Philipps, episode 6 Maggie Herrson
Solvang Village Boutique Hotel: http://www.mogansolvangvillage.com/