Zhangjiajie, Hunan – Part 2
Finally out of China so I can get back to updating this blog. Miss us much? 😉
It was an early start at 630am on the following day. The first place we went to was a temple that was near our hotel. We didn't have this temple as part of our itinerary but went to check it out anyways. It wasn't anything special so when quickly went back down after. At the bottom there are old ladies doing leg massages for 5RMB/15min. Cheap cheap.
Our next stop was the National Forest Park to ride the world's tallest elevator at 380m high. At the summit awaits a stunning view of the Zhangjiajie mountains. What we got instead was the most dreadful wait ever! We waited in line for 3hrs before we even reached the elevator! Way too crowded with everyone literally touching shoulder to shoulder in the muggy air the entire time…
The line would move every 10min and you could only shuffle your feet forward. Felt like we were stuck in a herd of sheep. It started off as a simple winding lineup. Then it turned to a long flight of stairs. You get to the top to find out that there's another winding lineup! Wth, This isn't the end? After passing the second snake ladder we turned into a tunnel to wait some more. I peered down the tunnel and it was about 100m long, and packed. At this point we didn't think this ordeal would end. At the end of the tunnel we passed through a bottlenecked security checkpoint…As we were able to walk down the rest of the way freely i thought we finally made it…nope! We reach the end and it turned into another tunnel. We were in disbelief and at that point. At the end of it was finally the elevators but that whole process took 3hrs to reach that moment. We get to the summit and saw our tour guide. We had 5min before we had to walk back down. It didn't really matter at that point as the dense fog covered everything in sight. Totally disappointing.
A couple of peeves to mention – people tend to cut in line quite a bit here. Same thing happens at the line up for check-in at the airport so you need to be aware and assertive that you don't let anyone cut in front of you. Another peeve was people trying to get by you will nudge their way through without saying anything. Call it bad manners/invasion of personal space, but it seems like normal behavior here. Surprisingly, nobody really gets pissed off about it except us foreigners lol
A few shots when we walked down. Still hazy as hell.
This is a bridge made from a natural formation. We didn't bother trying to cross it to avoid getting our eyes poked from all the umbrellas!
The view starts to disappear fast as Viv tries to pose for this shot.
After a while we make a quick stop to a memorial area dedicated to Marshal He Long who was a very important military figure during the communist movement. There stood a large bronze statue of him where the body cast resembled one of the mountains. To any average onlooker you may have wondered if the statue was even finished 🙂
Keep on walking…
You do not want to take a tumble here!
Along the route you'll see 'jiao fu' – sedan chairs where two people carry you down the steps! And these guys aren't that young either. Probably in there 40's if not older. The way they charge depends on your weight. 2.5RMB per pound. I don't think they have a scale on hand so its probably guesswork and your haggling skills to determine the cost.
We got to the last stop for the final tourist trap before our final destination to the parking lot. You can pay 30RMB for a 5min monorail ride down or take a 30min walk for free. It was better to walk since the monorail was going too fast to really enjoy the scenery and soak up the experience.
Does this look like a man carrying herbs on his back?
Does my index look like the mountains?
The next day we headed back to the National Forest Park. There were monkeys scattered all over the trees near the entrance. Obviously they've been spoiled from human feeding as we witnessed some of the monkeys attempting to ambush people for their goody bags. There was a sign that warned you not to tease the monkeys and provoke them. Some people didn't get the message. One woman shouted towards one of the monkeys and scared him away. Later on a man got pretty close to one that was sitting up near a ledge, shouted and waved his jacket at it. WTF? You can tell the monkey was getting agitated and began to show some aggression. I don't know if it was his friend but some guy came into the picture and wisely dragged his arm back. If the monkey somehow decided to rip his face off, he truly deserved it.
We stopped at one point and the tour guide gave you an option to walk up to the viewpoint on another mountain. Thanks but no thanks – we learned our lesson already. Plus it was still raining and hazy so we believed that we were not going to be able to see anything. Majority of the tour group went (dummies) so we walked around the park by ourselves and regrouped with them after. We were right as the guide told us you couldn't see anything at the top.
Washing veggies by the creek
If you're bored of just walking on a flat path, test your balance here! Just don't fall and hurt yourself
This bridge gets quite shaky
Suppose to look like a mother holding a baby. Yeah, I can see that.
The four columns is suppose to represent the four main characters in Journey to the West story.
The final stop of the day was at a place that had the worlds largest baseless wooden palace. It was more or less a museum of one of the minority groups from Hunan province.
A couple of interesting sights:
A bride-to-be room
A display case with various zombie artifacts. Apparently after wars in the past, the people believe that the spirit of dead soldiers would have to be led back to their home. So this 'spiritual guide' would help bring their spirit back to their rightful resting place. Call it fluff but I'm sure the guy made a lot of coin back in the day!
After touring various rooms we got led into this room where a priest comes out and starts talking about your zodiac signs and which diety/god you were connected to. He started going through each sign and if you were that sign, you should stand in front of deity/god and he'd bless you. Viv pointed out that it's another money grabbing scheme since you pay the priest to perform this 'blessing' So we just got up and left.
The fourth day we went to take the cable car up to a section of the National Forest Park where you can walk around the edge of the mountainside. Again it was super hazy we couldn't see a thing. I'm pretty sure we would have witnessed one of the most incredible sights in the world but it just wasn't meant to be this time around.
Raining and covered by the most mute surroundings
After this 'wonderful' walk, we took the cable car back down halfway to check out the heavens gate mountain. It's literally a mountain with a huge opening in the middle. It's large enough that a wingsuit skydiver has flown through it before. Google it! Again it was super hazy so we couldn't see a thing when we walked up top. By the way, it takes 999 steps to reach the top. A mini Grouse grind 🙂
Sneaking in a break to take a photo
We reached the top…wow, absolutely nothing lol you'll have to look online to see what it looks like on a nicer day.
We walk back down and they were setting up a stage in front of the entrance. There are outdoor performances staged in the evenings here. That's a great venue spot and would be pretty cool to check out next time.
The plan was to head to Phoenix town for our last tour day. However, Viv overheard from another guide that roads to the area have been experiencing collapsed roads due to heavy raining. It was an easy decision to cancel after hearing that. We didn't feel too disappointed missing out on it because the bus driver of our tour told us he personally thought the town was overated. The accommodation and food were both terrible and there was not much to do there.
Thus concludes the Zhangjiajie tour. It was an overall disappointment but would definitely come back next time when the weather is nice.