China Expat & Travel Blogger. ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO IN CHINA. See My Fun TRAVEL Adventures in China!
It was October 3rd--Golden Week in China—and with my girlfriend having gone home for the holidays I decided to hop on my fully charged electric scooter bike and set off on a long adventure across Kunshan to explore Yangcheng Lake.
Thankfully the weather was picture perfect on this day, so I stopped to snap a few great high quality photos of parts of the city I had never stepped foot in.
Yangcheng Lake was still a few clicks ahead, and since crab season was still in session, I couldn't wait to capture the frenzy of locals dining and bartering for its infamous fresh Hairy Yellow Crab.
But there was just one problem: The battery on my scooter was steadily losing power. But I had traveled much too far to return, so I figured I could just charge it at a yellow box charging station in Yangcheng while I toured the city. No problem, right?
I arrived in Yancheng—just north of the Fairmount Hotel--at the brink of evening and about an hour before the sun set. It was just how I imagined: hundreds of people roaming the streets, cars honking at every turn, and an endless amount of hairy crab restaurants and vendors open for business at every turn.
In the span of an hour I not only was able to document the hustle and bustle of crab season but would also capture the golden sunset over the city by way of Chongning Temple and Bajie Garden Park.
And so here we go. As night fell I began the quest of finding a charging station for my scooter. I passed a busy intersection--not one around. I rode into a bustling crab market--no luck.
I used the last bit of juice that I had left driving up and down the roads until I finally wound back at Hairy Crab Mall, which by that time had transformed into a lively dining zone overrun with neon lights on every building.
Sitting at the entrance were several security guards that looked to be in their mid-twenties. Funny enough, after asking as to whether a charging station was nearby, I was told several different answers. "Not here... go up the street... maybe that way", and lastly, "Yes, just go to the opposite side of these buildings and there's charger on the other side. It'll take about 6 minutes to arrive".
In exactly 6min. later I would arrive at the opposite end, only to encounter another set of even younger security guards that had no clue about any charge box in the area.
Fortunately one of the guards from my previous encounter was strolling along on his scooter and spotted me having trouble. He quickly intervened and suggested that he could lead me to the charger. After about 3 minutes of trailing him and my scooter having nearly flat lined, we arrived at the security guard center seated at the backend of the complex.
Now, this "security center" wasn't a sprawling, well kept building. Rather, it was a beat down mom and pop shop equipped with a store and kitchen. There were only 3 people there--two elderly women and a young boy of about 6 years of age. The security guard, Mr. Wu, helped plug a personal charger into my bike. Praise Jesus!
I told him I'd only stay about an hour--I actually needed at least a 3 hour charge to make it back to downtown--but Mr. Wu absolutely insisted that I join him for dinner.
We ate fried eggs, duck legs, and rice. As we ate Mr. Wu and I got to know each other pretty well, completely conversing in Mandarin. And yep, my skills were that good. To my understanding Mr. Wu was 27 yrs. old, married, from Kunshan, and was a supervisor of the security detail on the premises. He went to college in Beijing and studied computer science.
Afterwards Mr. Wu led me to the back of the shop where therein lied 2 large water cages filled with hairy crab.
He explained that their shop sold the large crabs for 60 RMB, and after initially thinking he had turned businessman and was trying to sell me a few, I realized that he was actually inviting me to stay and eat some fresh crab together, free of charge. Well hell, why not!?
Within moments two female security guards arrived and the crab prepping began. I watched them toss a number of squirming dark green crabs into a boiling pot, and in less than 45-minute’s time they had all turned bright orange and we're ready to be eaten. Incredible!
We sat down, whipped out the crab sauce and dug in. Mr. Wu showed me how to open the crabs and use a crab leg to scrap away the parts you aren't supposed to eat. The two female security guards joined us and before long their boss even showed up only to bear witness to the foreign face dining in their shop. Throughout the night everyone would constantly ask if I enjoyed the hairy crab, and I did.
After awhile it was time to head back home. They'd let me know I could stay a bit longer, and even as I knew my bike battery wasn't fully charged, I didn't want to overstay my welcome. Before leaving we took a group photo, exchanged contact information, and bid farewells. I also repeatedly thanked them for their hospitality and referred to them as 'hao ren', which means good people.
My trip to Yangcheng Lake was a memorable experience thanks to generous locals like Mr. Wu. Ah, if only everyday in China could be like this!