“I think Moganshan is a miniature of the first half of China’s 20th-century history,” says Wu Chengtao, a forestry official who lives at the base of the mountain here in southeast China. “It’s a great window through which you can look at history.”
Since Mark Kitto1 started his lodge in Moganshan in 2004, this mountain has attracted a number of investors. These include naked Retreats, naked Stables, Le Passage, as well as more than a few copy cats who lack the creativity to invent original names for their shanzhai2 hostels and “resorts.” These days, the clock is turning back on Moganshan. Foreigners are returning to the retreat, 2,300 feet above the East China plain, where they can escape the summer heat of nearby Shanghai and Hangzhou.
American couple Jim Matteson and his wife Lynda Matteson are both from California. After some time doing business in Mexico, Jim turned his attentions to China, and for 17 years provided global-sourcing solutions for North American companies who were seeking intelligent, low-cost manufacturing alternatives overseas. The original Shamrock Pub was one of Jim’s haunts, and older Hangzhouvians might remember him from there. The Shamrock is no more, and Jim and Lynda have retired, but rather than retreat to a beach in Malibu opened a lovely guesthouse on Moganshan - “The Phoenix” - for a time their holiday house, which they rented on Airbnb when they were away.
The Phoenix sits peacefully in this little village, named Mogaowu (莫皋坞村). Surrounded by farmhouses and mountains, it is very much in-place, and yet it stands-out as something very special. The white painted farmhouse with wooden structure is encircled by a low stonewall, within which you will discover a garden. Lynda’s touch and its green thumb is everywhere, from the fresh herbs to the roses.
The two-story farmhouse was designed by an old friend, an artist named “Rat,” who is involved with a few projects in Moganshan. Inside you will find Chinese furniture and antiques, and original wooden beams, flooring, and stairs. Accommodations could not be cozier. There are two master bedrooms with terraces, and with king-sized beds covered with designer linens and down comforters; and a guest room with two queen beds and desk. The bright and spacious living room has a baby grand piano, leather sofas and a wood-burning stove for those cold winter nights. The bar area at the corner has leather stools, an ice machine, Nespresso coffee maker, and enough wine and liquor to serve 40 people.
You might arrive wearing mittens, but remember to bring your swimsuit: there’s hot tub. (Or: remember to forget to pack your swimsuit; there’s a hot tub.) Your portable soundtrack will fill the social space via the Bose sound system, and if you’re up to it you can tackle the wood-fired pizza oven and professional charcoal BBQ. Jim and Lynda even shared their secret homemade pizza recipe, but plan on doing some cooking. There’s a modern western kitchen complete with spices, cookware, wine glasses, dishes, and napkins sufficient to service 36 people. The larder is stocked with local organic vegetables, eggs and fruit.
Now is the time to plan and to book – whether specifically for Christmas or simply for a great way to enjoying the seasonal fun and good cheer. There’s a discount for this off-peak period, and – what with the overs and culinary accoutrement – don’t be a turkey. Cook. ‘Tis the season.
Jim and Lynda’s Pizza crust recipe (for 1 crust):
1 cup flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbls olive oil
1. Mix the flour and the salt together.
2. Place yeast and sugar in a cup and add 1/2 cup water. Stir and add to flour. Mix, adding water until firm consistency. Kneed until well-mixed and smooth texture.
3. Place in covered bowl in sun or warm area. After 1 hour punch down and raise again. Can be used immediately or put in refrigerator wrapped in plastic until ready to use.
How to book it?
Go to Airbnb https://zh.airbnb.com/rooms/1936827 or email: ThePhoenixMoganshan@yahoo.com, or contact Jim (English only) on his cell: +86 13958141900, Seth Jacobs (speak English and fluent Chinese) +86 13681677111.
How to get there?
Self driving: From downtown, we recommend you to take Shangtang elevated road all the way up to the north to go through Gou Zhuang (勾庄). Once you are on the highway, just follow the signs for Moganshan (莫干山). These will lead you to G25. Travel this roadway and exit at the Deqing (德清) toll gate. Follow Deqing Avenue (德清大道S304) to North Zhiyuan Road (志远北路), then turn right when you see 104国道. A few kilometers down that road you will find Sanmo Xian (三莫线) – it will appear on your left side. Take that left, and follow it to Moganshan Village. Follow this road to the end, and when (at the end) the road split into two direction, bear right. You will see Le Passage ice cream shop on your right. After about two to three minutes of driving, you will see a sign for the police station. Take the left turn before that sign. The road splits into two direction almost immediately -- bear right, and do not take the sharp left. Follow this road up the hill that leads you to Mogaowu (莫皋坞). You will pass under a stone archway with two lions -- keep going. Road gets narrower, and when you get almost to the top of the hill and think This must be the place!, rejoice, for yes it is the place. The Phoenix is on your right --- 20 meters before the road ends further up the mountain.
Public transportation: Trains from East Hangzhou train station to Deqing train station take only 13 minutes, and its only 30 minutes from Deqing train station to the Phoenix. Call Old Joe (the ayi’s husband, Chinese speaking only) 13706829587, and he’ll pick you up from Deqing train station.
How much will it cost me?
It’s 5,000RMB/night, and if you book it for two nights the discounted price is 8,000RMB. Coffee, beer, and soda at the bar area cost 10RMB each, and wine is 150RMB a bottle, but you are welcome to BYOB.
Things to do?
They have two bicycles, board games, hundreds of DVD’s, cards, cribbage boards, and dice. For trekking, just follow the road up to the hill, then trek up the hill to beautiful scenic waterfalls and national park. You will need to pay 80RMB if you go through gate into park. Old Joe has a taxi/van and likes to give top-o’-the-mountain tours. He usually can get a discount on gate entrance fee (ring 13706829587). There is a Western-style bar and restaurant at the end of the road near the village -- a bicycle-themed bar, because nothing goes better with cycling than beer and grain alcohol. There are also a few local restaurants in the village. The Jacobson Championship 18-hole golf course is in the area, too.
A few remarks
Guests are welcome to use any fruits, vegetables, eggs, spices, condiments, sauces and oils that are here, free of charge. All paper goods, shampoos, lotions, etc. are also for your complimentary use. Extra TP is in laundry room. Should you need or desire to use any canned goods, juices, pastas, cereals, cheese, meats, or freezer items, they would appreciate you making a note so they know what to replace -- and please, do make a satisfactory make a monetary contribution for their proper replacement. They use good mountain well water from the tap, but if you are concerned, use bottled or boiled water