The Travelling Neopian: Shenkuu
Hello! I have returned once again in time for the summer months - arguably the busiest time of year for residents all around Neopia to do some travelling. We are so lucky we live in such a unique place, we have so many lands to discover and people to meet. This series is to help introduce all of these interesting places to you, the reader. This is the second installment of the series - the previous one covered all about Mystery Island so be sure to read that if you plan on visiting!
Visit this beautiful and exotic empire of flying ships, Lunar Festivals, and mystical wisdom. Marvel at the beauty of Shenkuu's buildings, which are perched on mountaintops among glistening waterfalls.
For this second installment in this series, I am taking you to one of the most exotic and historic lands in all of Neopia - Shenkuu. This is the official description:
High in the mountains North of Altador is the mystical city of Shenkuu. Unknown to Neopians for centuries, it was revealed to the world by the crew of the Cyodrake's Gaze after a terrible mishap at sea. Its citizens were cautious at first, but have since welcomed visitors from all over Neopia with open arms... as long as they have their wallets. They are a merchant town, after all.
As the description suggests, as soon as my Neopets and I stepped of the boat, we were greeted by many merchants trying to make a few quick Neopoints off unsuspecting tourists. While you may be tempted to buy everything offered - use caution. A lot of these items can be bought cheaper elsewhere, and while the merchant may say it is homemade, it's actually quite mass-produced! That being said, we found a lovely little Kyrii girl selling some fresh Voidberry Moon Cakes!
Nestled in the mountains of the far most eastern point of Neopia sits the region of Shenkuu. Since the majority of the land is high up on mountain tops, the residents here enjoy travelling by airships. These ships are equipped with fin-looking sails; two at the top and one on either side. They seem to "swim" through the air, using the wind from the mountains to go up or down. Only locals (or Neopians who have lived here for a long time) seem to know how to operate these ships. Of course, you can walk as well, however it will take substantially longer!
Shenkuu, although situated north-east, the climate is actually somewhat subtropical, and experiences all four seasons. This is due to the snow covered land that separates it from mainland Neopia. Every season holds special importance to the people of Shenkuu, with festivals marking the start or end of each one. Winter holds New Years, with locals indulging in Moon Cakes & mochi and watching fireworks go off in the night sky. The beginning of spring has annual cherry blossom viewing festivals, celebrating the awakening of the land after months of the sleepy wintertime. Summer is probably the busiest for festivals, each having it's own meaning. The end of the summer you can see street parties with tents having a variety of local foods like Tofu Satay, and even some local games. Fall is generally harvest season, so you will see a lot of festivals involving fresh farmed food from the bases of the mountains - like rice and different kinds of teas.
Things to Do
Probably the best way to experience Shenkuu is to experience it like a local. Many people here are more than happy to host you during your stay - so be sure to show gratitude by bringing them gifts! (Good ideas would be souvenirs from where you live in Neopia!) The people here love relaxing - some waterfalls boast the best natural hot springs in the world. They also enjoy food, every meal is its own experience and is often very communal. Picky eaters be warned however! It's generally seen as rude to decline a dish from your host. If you have any food sensitivities it would be advised to let them know beforehand.
The most common played game here is Kou-Jong. It involves several wooden tiles with different pictures on them, built up like a pyramid. You must match each tile with a similar piece, removing them until there is none left. Sounds simple but one wrong move and you might end up losing the entire game!
You can also go to the Lunar Temple on the highest point in Shenkuu. Here there lives a wise old Gnorbu who tracks the position of Kreludor. You can test your knowledge of Neopia's moon and receive some nice prizes as well! How kind!
Since Shenkuu is filled with merchants you will never be tired of shopping! Some of the main, permanent shops here is a fine weaponry to equip your Neopets for the Battledome, a Petpet shop selling exclusive Shenkuu area Petpets, and of course, the food shop! And should your Neopet fall ill on their trip there is a medicine shop selling all-natural cures. Many of these medicines have been passed down for centuries - so the locals should be getting something right!
Things to Eat
Shenkuu is one of the most unique places for the culinary adventurous. Rice dishes are some of the most popular, and seeing as there is an abundance of rice fields at the bottom of the mountains this makes sense! Fish is also very common here, with shrimp being a favourite to add into recipes. Desserts are less sweet than other places - one of my Neopet's personal favourites is the Moon Cakes you can get at New Year's. But one of the most unique foods is sushi - a cute thing a lot of shops do is shape sushi into different Neopets and Petpets! Kougras, Pandaphants and Chombys just to name a few.
Places to Stay
Like Mystery Island, Shenkuu has no actual hotel around. However you will find many boarding houses for tourists, and a lot of locals are more than willing to act as your host through your trip! Some may even accompany you on your daily outings which are perfect to get a local's perspective on things. As mentioned before it is customary to bring a gift from your own corner of Neopia as a thank you gift. Food is an excellent way to share your own culture and customs!
What Makes it Unique
Besides the air ships I think the most unique thing about Shenkuu is the people and the culture. Everyone seems to enjoy spending time together, whether this be at meal times, festivals, going to a hot spring or even just spending the day in the street shopping. Everything here holds a special sentiment as well. You'll often see even the most ordinary of objects shaped into a Neopet or Petpet. Perhaps this is from a Shenkuu belief that everything has its own life and must be respected - from the tiniest Petpetpet to a rock formation on the mountain! I think we all have something to learn from these wonderful people.
Shenkuu is - by far - a great exotic land to travel to. If you are looking for something different than what you are used to, Shenkuu definitely offers that! It can seem a little weird at first, but eventually you start experiencing things alongside the locals and you almost feel like you are one of them. Shenkuu will forever hold a special place in my heart and I hope one day you and your Neopets will get to experience this wondrous place too!