Houping is a small town at the end of the road heading northeast from Wulong City in Chongqing Municipality.
Orientation: Houping is one street long. The bus station is towards the beginning, near the guesthouse and a few small shops. Farther on are about half a dozen more shops and a gambling house (the only thing open late at night).
Geology: Houping is a very exciting caving area that has yielded over 50km of surveyed passage thus far (July 2002). One of the challenges of the area is to connect the two main caves, Er Wang Dong and San Wang Dong together and to the dolines and gorges visible on the topo map below. The cave system is characterized by huge relict phreas on several different levels and a network of small immature streamways draining to the southwest. Thus far we have mapped only small inlets, but the resurgence at Ma Wan Dong carries a huge amount of water, so we hope to drop into a large active master cave.
Climate: In May through September it is rainy and water levels are quite high. In January there was occasional snow, but water levels were generally low. In winter it's very cold, especially at night. Houping was significantly colder than Er Wang Dong. I was wearing two layers of thermals, a fleece,a shell,waterproof trousers,gloves, a wooly cap, a scarf and three pairs of socks and still freezing. The mosquitoes are quite bad in the summer.
Shopping: There seem to be market days every 4 days or so. Mandarins, sandals, and local produce comprise the bulk of what's on offer. In th summer the selection improves, with a variety of normally closed shops opening, and such treats as ice lollies and baba. You can buy: wellies, future cola, oranges, beer, slippers, steamed buns (look hard), pot noodles.
150m deep tiankeng with viewing platform at the top.
Mr. Wang's guesthouse: Across from the bus stop is a small guesthouse. The food is miserable if the proprietor is cooking, but great if his wife is in town. The rooms are okay for 10Y per bed. It takes about half an hour to arrange a hot shower. One of the rooms has a balcony which is good for drying clothes. The rooms are quite cold in the winter, but charcoal fires can be had (care!). It took a lot of shouting to get the hotelier to unlock the front door for us when we returned from a trip after 10pm. Meals at the guesthouse cost about: 4Y breakfast, 6Y lunch, reasonable dinner, and 2Y per beer, and 2.5Yper bottle of future cola. Recently the guesthouse hasn't been providing food, but other eateries have opened in town.
IC, 200, 201, 202 phonecards do not work in Houping. IP cards are the only ones we could use for international calls. I do not think you can buy phone cards in Houping. Also, the shop phone would not permit non-phonecard calls to moblie phones.
Mr. Wang?: Owner of the hotel, he's a jolly fellow with a bit of fuzz on his top lip. He and his wife have a pre-teen daughter.
Mr. Huang?: Owner of the shop across the road from the hotel. His wife is (I believe) the younger sister of Mr. Wang's wife. They have a young daughter.