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Goodman's Travels

Zhangjiajie China

CHINA | Sunday, 29 April 2012 | Views [1407]

Zhangjiajie -

Wednesday 25th April 2012 - ANZAC DAY.

Arrived as per schedule on Train 2012 from Nanning at 08:27hrs, took a meter cab to the Home Inn, in Tianmen Road. We were thankfully able to check in straight away and have a shower and do some computer work with emails and blog etc. The LAN worked. We then went downstairs to the foyer where there was a travel agent. The young girl spoke broken English and we were able to book a 2 day tour of the Zhangjiajie National Park. The cost of A$65 each included the tour in an 8 seater van, a tour guide who didn’t speak English, some entry onto a few minor scenic side tours, lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch and one nights accommodation at what was to be a very run-down Motel.

After that it was time for a Beer to celebrate ANZAC DAY. Unfortunately their isn’t any Pubs in Zhangjiajie, so we bought a couple from the little side-alley shop and took back to our room and drank to the Anzacs.

Thursday 26th April 2012

We joined two young ladies (which we subsequently named Cuyuan and Chiyuan) and two young men in the 10 seater van for our tour of Zhangjiajie National Park. Along the way we picked up another two young Chinese fellows, so that made it 8 for the tour and one young lady as our guide. One young fellow, whom we subsequently name ‘the Prof’ made himself known to us as he spoke some English. He had been taught English for a number of years through his high school days but hadn’t used it in a couple of years. So we had a two-way beneficial street here, he could practice his English on us and we would know where to go and what to do. He couldn’t be our guide as such as his English was not good enough but he could tell us what the tour guide was saying when we had to do something or go somewhere. In the end, ‘The Prof” treated us like his mother and father and pampered us with all sorts of information he thought we should know.

The tour began with a 45 minute van ride from the Zhangjiajie township to the National Park where we, and umpteen thousand others, lined up to go up the most impressive lift we’ve ever been in. This took us up to the canopy of the mountains. When we got off we were then able to walk through the magnificent scenery and marvel at how it was created. Words cannot describe its beauty and unfortunately the photo’s don’t really do it justice either. You need to be there to fully appreciate it. This is the region where Avatar was made.

      

    

 

 

 

At about 2.00pm we were given the option of going down the mountain by cable-car or walking. We did the group thing and made a democratic decision to walk down the mountain. The guide knew better, she went down by the cable car. There we were, 6 young Chinese, all in their early 20s and two old westerners, going to walk down the mountain. We weren’t on the top of the mountain and they said it might take about an hour, maybe a little more. Off we went. The steps were short, only just long enough to put your foot on. There were no hand rails, the steps were sometimes irregular. The trail would go down for 500 steps and then go up 100 steps. At what we thought was about half way, we were starting to hurt. The young girls were getting calf muscle soreness, Wendy was going ok but was also starting to feel the pain in the calves. We continued, after 3 hours of walking down the mountain, all calves and thighs were burning we finally made it. We weren’t advised we would be doing so much walking so we only wore our good walking sandals and this made things a little worse than would have normally been. We can now say we have seen the Zhangjiajie National Park from its best and worst aspects. Got back to our accommodation at about 6.30pm and they shunted us straight into a dining room for a meal of mass produced Chinese tasteless food. There was plenty of variety but the quality was crap. Up to the room for a shower when there was a knock on the door. A young lady from the Hotel wanting to know if we wanted a foot massage for 48RMB ($8). You know the answer to that.

Friday 27th April.

Up at 6.30am for Chinese breakfast in the run-down hotel included in the cost of the tour. The sight of the dish water noodles, uncooked buns, cabbage, spring onions, tofu, dried something or other and an assortment of items that had been resurrected from last nights leftovers was a bit much for both of us. Allan went in search of some edible street food but came back empty handed. Had an apple.

Then onto the bus and onto the National Park again. Then another winding bus ride to a most scenic place where they dropped us off and said, you can walk 5.5klm to the end of the trail and we will pick you up when you get there. The walk was absolutely beautiful. It meandered along through the forest. Little bridges crossing streams, ginormous outcrops creeping into the sky, wonderful flora and just to spoil it, every 400m was a small resting area where they sell all manner of snack products and crap souvenirs. The pictures tell the story. We loved every moment of it. Wendy was fortunate enough to come across one of the worst toilets in China. It was an open stall where the women just squatted beside each other, did their business (1s and 2s) and walked away. No flushing, no sanitation, no privacy a stench that would outlive religion. (..Kenny)

Our guide Si Goong,

gave us the option of going to another mountain which in her mind looked exactly the same as the one we had just seen or to take us to a different area. We asked could we go to Tianmen Mountain where the have the most magnificent rock structures and mountain walkways. It cost an extra 240RMB each but it was what we came here for.

The trip up to Tianmen Mountain started with the most incredible 7.5klm cable car ride you will ever see. It goes up and down mountains and rises to an altitude of 1297m. We were flabbergasted. So were our Chinese friends.

The young lady we called Cuyuan, was so frightened she covered her eyes most of the way. She only looked down once, that was enough for her.

When we eventually reached the top we then went on a walk around the edge of the mountain on a ‘skywalk’. There is a 60m stretch of the ‘skywalk’ that is glass bottomed. Seven of our group took up the challenge and walked it, one young man we named ‘woose’ did exactly that. He refused to walk on the glass.

 

At one point on the ‘skywalk’ there is a place where the Chinese write on red pieces of cloth, their hopes and dreams for this life and the next. We did the same and tied it to one of the tree branches. Time will tell if the Gods of China will shine on us.

From there we went back to the cable car and it took us down to about 1/3 the way back down to another cable station to get off. We then jumped on another bus that took us back up the mountains in another direction to Tianmen Mountain itself. This road winds and turns and rises and fall and is mostly only wide enough for one ½ buses but they pass without danger.

We got to the top and took one look at the voluminous steps leading to the Archway that the Russian Air Force flew their MIG jets through a few years ago. We are told there are 999 steps. The Chinese recognise 9 as the biggest number and designed it that way.

                                     

We hesitated and said, lets give it a try and see how far we get. We were still a little sore and sorry from the enormous walk down the Zhangjiajie Mountain the day before and didn’t want to push ourselves too hard for fear of injuring ourselves. So we set off. Some of the steps were normal sized steps where a good stride is comfortable, then there were steps that were small and you needed to be very careful where you trod. We started off together but after a little while Allan decide he would meet up with the other lads who where about half way up. He met “The Prof’ at about half way mark where he had decided was far enough. Allan cajoled and embarrassed him into going further.

They got to ¾ up and rested. Then another 20 steps and rested, then another 20, then another 20 and so on until the top. Victory for Allan. A dream come true.

We had both seen a video of this mountain several years ago and put it on our radar to do some day. Today was the day. After Allan had reached the top and rested a little, he looked back and couldn’t see Wendy, he thought she had got to about ½ the way and decided enough was enough. Then, another look and there she was, ¾ the way up and taking it step by step. With some encouragement from ‘the boys’ and Allan. She finally made it to the top. Legs like jelly and face red as a beetroot. What an effort and what a dream realised.

 

We took a photo in front of something which “The Prof’ told us was something to do with achievement and character building….it certainly was.

Then the trek down. This hurt the thighs a little and caution was needed because of the size of the steps, so it was slowly down to the waiting Cuyuan, Chiyuan and Goong who applauded our efforts. They had decided not to even attempt it. There were very few tourist souvenirs at the bottom so we didn’t bring anything back from that expedition only heaps of photo’s and memories.

Back down to the cable car and down the mountain and then to the train station to meet train K1096 at 18:36 from Zhangjiajie to Dazhou.

We said our goodbyes in our own languages. We treated them like our kids and they treated us like their parents. The girls bought three necklaces at one of the souvenir shops to cement their friendship. A lovely blue necklace that would suit any Cheroke Squaw.

We waited at the station and observed the Chinese waiting room habits again although they were much more civilised this time.

The train arrived and departed on time as most Chinese train do. We were in soft sleeper tonight, so we were looking to a good nights rest.

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