Tangkou, CHINA

The secret misty mountain town of Tangkou, China

From the travelogue 90 Days in China with Diabetes

Guides
Travelogues

My adventures around the globe as a diabetic. This is my favorite section!

Inspiration

Everyone needs some motivation every now and then

Diabetes

Posts about diabetes not related to travel

Gear

Reviews, packing tips, and thoughts on traveling with diabetes supplies

More

Behind the scenes at 70-130.com

Want to be on the right side of history?

Diabetes is getting cured. JDRF, the leading global T1D research organization, is getting closer... but they need donations to continue.

Give to JDRF and help 70-130 reach its fundraising goal of $2,500. So far, readers have given $660. Click to increase that number!

27%

Donate To JDRF Now

Sometimes a lucky traveler will end up in a place that seems to far from everywhere, and so unknown to tourists, and so mesmerizingly appealing, that you think it must exist only for you and that you’re the first outsider to ever have seen it.

The teeny town of Tangkou, in China’s Anhui Province, became such a place for Masayo and I, who arrived here from Hefei on Day 23 of our adventure. If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble across a place like this from time to time. A destination unspoiled by… anything.

jeremy-stone-steps-tangkou-river

Tangkou (汤口) lies at the foot of famous Huangshan Mountain, a popular UNESCO World Heritage Site that has loomed large in the psyche of China for centuries. Many people come to visit Huangshan every year, but a very small percentage does so from Tangkou.

kids-river-rocks-tangkou-china

Update, March 2016: As of this writing, the town of Tangkou still doesn’t have its own English Wikipedia page (only a Chinese one). I’m quite proud that I got to know a place that remains such a secret all these years later.

In Hefei we’d bought bus tickets to Tangkou and (after some guy tried furtively and unsuccessfully to take Masayo’s camera out of her pocket in front of the station) left about 9:00 am for the four-hour journey into deep, rural China.

When we arrived, we weren’t even dropped off in Tangkou proper: the bus just stopped on the side of a winding mountain road we were on, and the driver smiled and motioned for us to get off. I objected, since we weren’t near anything, and showed him our tickets: we paid for a ride to Tangkou! You’re not going to scam me, Jack.

They resisted my objections, though, and insisted we get off. In a friendly way. So we did.

jeremy-climbing-barbed-wire-tangkou-china

Climb through barbed wire and follow this guy? Sure, why not!

Someone got off with us, a guy who carried Masayo’s bag for her. The three of us climbed through some barbed wire and down a steep hill… at the bottom of which was a waiting minivan.

Ah, so it was all merely a transfer! It turns out that driving directly to Tangkou is too roundabout a route for the first bus, so the rare visitor to the town must climb down this hill to catch a second ride on another road. Fair enough. And I was so suspicious.

tangkou-china-town-scene

The minivan took us into the town of Tangkou and we checked in to a small, cheap hotel. There didn’t seem to be any other tourists around – just a few locals in the chilly, overcast March weather strolling through the town’s few streets.

Diabetes report: Keeping insulin cool

I’m not super-strict about keeping insulin cool while traveling – I’ve never had a problem, even in hot countries, with insulin going bad or losing effectiveness. Still, it’s a good idea to keep it cool when you can.

In a chilly mountain town like Tangkou, leaving insulin wrapped up in my bag in my room always keeps it plenty cool. In the bag I carry around with me, the air is certainly cool enough to refrigerate it.

Mountain air was made for traveling diabetics.

old-building-corner-tangkou-china

The mystical, ancient feel of Tangkou

Tangkou is dominated by the mountains that tower above it, and even moreso by the river that slices the town in two. Bridges cross overhead and grimy white buildings line the sides of the river, which has been channeled into a deep concrete waterway. Stone steps lead down to the water, for those who want a closer look at the frigid mountain stream.

tangkou-china-alley

While we were there, the sky was cloudy and the mountains were hidden in mists. Tangkou seemed to be comprised of cold stone, ancient trees, and the kind of clouds and sky that city dwellers never get to see. It felt like nobody else could possibly have ever heard of Tangkou, much less visited.

In fact, of course, there are tourist facilities for those looking to climb (or take the cable car up) Huangshan. People weren’t shocked to see us or anything, although it was a little unusual for us to be here out of tourist season.

jeremy-haircut-tangkou-china

But having a secret little mountain town all to yourself is a feeling like no other. Picking a tiny spot on a map and getting there by hook or crook can lead to such rewarding experiences.

I hope when you travel, you find your own personal Tangkou-type places: destinations that have always existed… but are here just for you.

Where is a place you’ve visited that seemed like it was made just for you?

Next page: Day 26: Struggling up China's sacred Huangshan mountains

“Striking out on your own as we did on the Huangshan Mountains in China is much more rewarding than the comfort and stability of package tours.”

About the author

Jeremy has traveled to over 40 countries, taken several road trips across the United States (and Canada), and lived on and off in Japan for several years. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1982 but doesn't let a little thing like that stop him from exploring the world.

Jeremy writes about his travels with diabetes on 70-130.com as a way of logging his excursions and of inspiring others who might be feeling hesitant to take their own big bite out of life.

Travel. Diabetes. Emails.

Get the internet's best T1D travel newsletter — free!

Want exciting diabetes travel news and stories from 70-130.com sent directly to you?
It's like little bursts of fun and inspiration in your otherwise dreadfully dull inbox.

I'll also send you a "Doctor's Travel Note" template for your physician to fill out before you travel.
Use it to get through security checkpoints with medical supplies more easily.

Enter your info and click the link in the confirmation email. Welcome to the T1D travel community!

Free, easy, and spamless. Details and privacy information.

One comment on “The secret misty mountain town of Tangkou, China

  1. Pingback: Laundry service plus vomit: The tale of Hefei » Hefei Connect

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet Share Pin +1 Email Comments Donate to JDRF