If there is one thing that the Chinese have down to a science, it’s got to be their tourism industry. Just kidding, the Chinese have quite a few things down to a science, some more deserving of bragging rights than others. Nonetheless, this was the first weekend I’ve had both Saturday and Sunday off, so I finally decided to head off on an excursion. This time, to Huangshan (the Yellow Mountains).
The excursion actually began on Friday evening. I had to swing by the Shanghai South Bus Station to buy a ticket for the following day. It’s usually better to go ahead and buy the ticket one day in advance than to arrive at the bus station and waste a morning waiting for a space on the bus (because of the 1.3-1.4 billion people, most of the coaches are usually packed). I managed to pick up a ticket that left at 6:38 AM, and a good 6+ hours later, I was at the foot of the mountain.
Arriving at the foot of the mountain was actually a mistake from my part. Huangshan City (Tunxi) and Mt. Huangshan are actually 2 different stops. The problem was that my hostel was in Tunxi but not at the foot of the mountain, so I had to haul my backpack the entire time. That being said, arriving at the foot of the mountain was actually good because I lost no time getting to the top.
First Glimpse of the Mountain
Because of the time crunch, I decided to cable car my way to the top (also known as the lazy way). The climb to the top is an agonizing 2.5+ hours (at least), and I simply couldn’t afford the time to climb the mountain. Nonetheless the cable car was still fun, quick, and drops you off at the peak, where most people go to anyway. That being said, I have to go back sometime to actually do the climb, as there are spots along the path that are experientially unique (and there’s also something zen about climbing the Yellow Mountains as well).
Taking the Cable Car
Reaching the first peak… how far does it go?
it keeps going…
Don’t look down
It keeps going….
Really cool rock formations
But that trip will have to wait. The price to get into the mountain is an outstanding 230 RMB (!!!) and the cable car 1-way ticket was a solid 80 RMB. I mean, almost every historic/natural space in China has a fee, but I’ve never been to a place where the fees were so high. All things considered, this was one of the more expensive tourist activities I’ve done (considering it was a mere 38 hours).
Also bear in mind that the last cable car is at 5 pm, and from the cable car exit you need to take a bus down the mountain to the actual base (another 20 minutes). So all in all, I only had a good 3 hours at Mt. Huangshan when I arrived to when I had to make my way back down.
But the views are truly unique and inspiring:
I think this is the tallest peak
Just like in Avatar
Little fog – it wouldve been cool to see a the clouds within the mountains,… but I guess you can’t have it all….
This army of guys take things from the basecamp to the hotels at the top
Making their way around people
Viewing platform 1 – not as many people as I expected
This is the most famous spot for photographs of the Mountain range… can’t remember the name, but it has something to do with a tiger
Stalagmite mountains the background
this one looks like a hand
walking back… less people on the platform
the Beihai Hotel (i think this is what it’s called – a night is over 170 Euros)
the weather was starting to get darker
More pine trees
the line to get back to the cable car
heading back down, view from below
they should really install non-reflective glass on these cable cars
View from below
More Heaven-like clouds
The cable car seems to go on forever… I don’t know if I like its existence or not…. I mean, not everyone can get to the top by walking, and it’s definitely less intrusive than putting escalators….
On my way back, it was actually very easy to find my way back to Tunxi (a good 100 km from the mountain). The Hostel I stayed at, the Old Street Backpacker’s hostel, was incredibly clean and the staff helpful. They helped me arrange my way back to Shanghai the following day at 4:00 pm (sunday – this trip was WAY TOO SHORT). Rather than going back for a second round at Mt. Huangshan on Sunday, I booked a tour with them to the villages of Hongcun and Xidi (pictures to come later).
After doing the logistics for Sunday, I walked around the Old Street of Tunxi – it had a similar feel as that of Yangshuo. People again were trying to sell you things that you really didn’t need – most of the things you can find at any souvenir shop anywhere in China. But there was this one little store that sold Chinese mind-twisting puzzles, and it was definitely a first. Very cool store.
The best-dressed toll booth lady I have ever seen -
the old street entrance of Tunxi
The hostel from outside
the old street
Souvenir store galore
This is a certain type of caramel from the region
More old street
The lighting was actually not so bad… i mean, at least there was a modest use of neon
Paper lamps, anyone?
the Old Street gate at night
That was Saturday – Sunday will come later. For now, I’ll leave you with some signs I found while at Huangshan:
But… what does it mean?
I deeply enjoy the Chinese sense of mysticism embedded in their language… untranslatable.