Silver Bottle Mountain, in Xiegang Town, at 898 meters is the tallest mountain in Dongguan. The mountain is named so because from a distance it looks like a bottle. The town defines itself by the mountain and a lot of the town’s history is wrapped in the mythology of the mountain.
There is a Chinese myth that the Buddhist Goddess Guanyin travelled through Dongguan and was so impressed by the beautiful scenery that she left her lotus flower on Lotus Hill in Chang’an and her silver bottle on Silver Bottle Mountain in Xiegang.
Su Dong Po, the famous writer from the Song dynasty, wrote a poem about the mountain, in which he used the silver bottle as a metaphor. It is from this poem that people started to call the mountain Silver Bottle Mountain.
Although Xiegang has seen the same increase in factories and influx of workers that the rest of Dongguan has in the past twenty years, it is still a scenic spot. Surrounding the town are green mountains shrouded in mist, while every street is lined with trees. Walking around in Xiegang can feel like somewhere in Guangxi rather than in Guangdong.
Xiegang is a town in transition. They are in the middle of building a lake; Li village built during the Ming dynasty is currently under reconstruction; and the ancient tombs from the Qin dynasty in Dalong village are closed due to renovation.
Xiegang is less developed than some of the other towns in Dongguan. Many of the fast food and supermarket chains common in Dongguan have yet to open in Xiegang.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Silver Bottle Mountain is the most popular destination in Xiegang, with tourists visiting the mountain all year round. Since 2004, Xiegang has held an annual Mountain Climbing Festival on the third weekend of September. The festival includes a bike race, a climbing contest, a parade through the town and a live show.
Almost as famous as Silver Bottle Mountain is the local Hakka cuisine. There are many Hakka restaurants in the east of Xiegang, but it is in the west that one of the most popular Hakka restaurants can be found. Tai Shan Huang Shan Fan restaurant on Xie Chang Road specializes in Hakka dishes such as Sea Snake Rice, Fried Bowels and Pig Intestines with Tangerine Peel.
The dishes may sound daunting, but those who have been brave enough to try them often come back for more. The children of the owners speak English and they are able to help foreigners order from the menu.
The government square represents the center of Xiegang, and most of what else there is to do can be found there. To the east of the square is a row of kiosks popular with the teenagers who hang out eating octopus balls, chicken kebabs or drinking taro milkshakes.
Across the street from the kiosks is a market where hidden amongst the stalls there is a Muslim restaurant and a tattoo parlor. To the west of the square is a park with a playground and basketball courts. Vendors pull carts around selling fresh pineapple and barbecue beef.
Xiegang is best visited during the summer. The Shi Gu reservoir is opened to the public for swimming. At Silver Bottle Mountain bikes are available to rent. Also, it is when the ripe strawberries and lychees are picked.
Xiegang may be one of the furthest towns away from Dongguan, but it is straightforward to reach. By car take the East Expressway, but as you approach Xiegang watch out for construction.
Xiegang is just as easy to reach by bus. From Dongguan East Bus Station take the 116 or 122. From Nancheng Bus Station take the 129.
Location: East Dongguan
Area: 103 sq. kilometers
Journey Time: Around 60 minutes
Local Attractions: Silver Bottle Mountain, Shi Gu Reservoir (Seasonal), Tai Shan Huang Shan Fan Restaurant