Part One – Yellow Mountains

June 22, 2017 at 5:08 pm (China, Travel) (, , , )

This summer mum and I are doing a 20 day trip across China. I’ve decided to break the blog up into the different parts of our trip.

Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) was named after the Yellow Emperor who is the father of all Chinese people. Perhaps a mythical figure, his wife is acclaimed to have created silk when a cocoon fell into her tea. The area is known for its Huangshan pine trees, mystical granite peaks and breathtaking views from above the clouds.

Day One

IMG_4681After some last minute ” I’m about to go on holiday tasks” and a Melbourne style breakfast in Suzhou, mum was on her way to her first ever hash! I’d been talking about it so much, that even though it was a bit tight with catching our train we decided to go. We had a lovely stroll around Lake Taihu in Wuxi. Unfortunately the hash was not as off the beaten track as I would have liked but it did have some lovely parts and it was nice to see all the locals out enjoying the sunshine.

The “Queen’s mother” survived the circle, picked at the Chinese meal (It wasn’t really our cup of tea!) and caught the Chinese version of Uber to the train station. We navigated Wuxi train station fairly easily and managed to pick up our train tickets for the rest of our trip. Even though we had heaps of time at the station, we nearly missed our overnight train though! The gates opened as I went to the toilet and they nearly didn’t let us through. We had to run along the platform with luggage in tow. Typical!

Day Two

I basically fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Not even a baby in our four bed carriage or having the light on all night phased me. We were picked up by our driver at Huangshan and then I slept the whole way to the Yellow Mountains. Too. Upon arrival we made the fatal mistake of deciding to walk up the western steps. I hadn’t really done my research and mum didn’t fancy a cable car, so off we went.

We walked up endless amounts of concrete steps. Up, up and more up. It really wasn’t the best climb and half way up we both admitted to wishing we had taken the cable car. This is quite an admittance for us as we’re both quite stubborn.

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Towards the end of the climb we were rewarded with some fabulous views which made us feel a little better. We saw the Five Elders as well as the turtle and the fish embracing. We also met the hoards of Chinese tourists that generally accompany any trip to a national park. This also made us feel better for choosing the western steps, for although it was strenuous and tedious, it was most definitely less full. We understood this first hand as we pushed our way through the Narrow Cliff.

IMG_1765The Guest-Welcoming Pine was most certainly a welcoming sight. The tree is believed to be over 1,500 years old so God knows how many visitors it has had they pleasure of welcoming! This well photographed tree can be found in many paintings and pictures around China so it was really cool to see it in real life. It also signified our hotel must be near and our climb had nearly come to an end for the day. The area was packed with tourists all pushing and elbowing each other to get the perfect shot. Mine purposely includes the tourists of course!

We stayed at Yupinglou hotel. Comfy beds, clean and nice green tea. Restaurant prices  for simple dishes still ok in price.

Day Three

IMG_1782We awoke to the sound of rain and misty clouds. Not exactly the best news! As such, our walk to the next hotel was damp and white. One section, where we climbed a ladder like structure cut into the granite and wedged in between a sea of tourists, was quite something but otherwise unfortunately not too much to report. We arrived at our hotel waited for check in and I slept most of the afternoon.

As such this report will concentrate on the most amusing part of the day… Chinese hiking attire. We have seen dresses, slip on plastic shoes, jeans… You name it, we’ve seen it. Today was particularly amusing as they all produced their wet weather gear. This resulted in a sea of plastic yellow, blue and purple condom shaped figures bustling their way along the stairs. Some even had bootees to keep their shoes from getting wet.

It would be lax of me not to mention the essential hiking accessory for all Chinese tourists. For 10RMB you too can have a simple wooden walking stick. These truly do make you look like a seasoned hiker and are useful for practically nothing!

Before dinner, mum and I ventured out again and were rewarded with some views of the granite peaks above the mist. We have our fingers crossed for more spectacular views tomorrow. We will be walking the Xihai Canyon rain, hail or shine.

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We stayed at Baiyun Hotel. Not as nice as the previous hotel but ok. Meals at the restaurant were ridiculously priced so we had Sprite and biscuits from the little shop instead. Beds were pretty hard, but hey… This is China!

The Lotus Peak trail was closed. Apparently it’s been under maintenance since December 2014?

Day Four

We decided on an early start and descended into the Xihai Canyon pleasantly surprised to have the trail to ourselves. In fact we saw no more than ten walkers all the way down! The walk was steep and downwards but the views were absolutely beautiful.

IMG_1799Unfortunately, the trail we wanted was actually closed so we ended up having to take the long way down. This track followed a waterfall down one side and then up the other to the cable car. It was lovely wandering along without the noise, pushing and shoving and not to forget spitting, that we had put up with on or previous two days.

When we finally made it to the cable car, we’d both had enough and decided to take it up rather than walking the other side of the canyon. This proved to be a good decision when we saw the hoards of people coming down the track. It Is obvious that there are certain tour group trails and we were very pleased we had managed to find one off the beaten track.

After a quick coffee and cake stop, we were back on our way towards our next hotel. This was a pleasant walk up to Bright Summit and past Flying Over Rock and took barely any time at all.

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Flying Over Rock is one of the ‘sights to see’ on the mountain. It’s 15m high and 7m wide and juts out over the cliff face quite spectacularly. It does look like it’s been placed there by some magical force!

We stayed at Paiyunlou Hotel. By far the shabbiest of the hotels but their fried rice was pretty good and at a reasonable price.

If I came back here again I would not choose these hotels in this order. It’s hard to get an idea of what the best options are because all the maps are terrible!  (According to mum you can’t even call it a map, she reckons it’s a drawing!)

Day Five

The mist and rain were unfortunately back to see us off the mountain. We walked to the cable car fairly quickly and took in the Old Monkey Looking Over the Sea (he wasn’t seeing much) and Lions Peak on our way. I’m sure the lookouts would have been magnificent if we’d been able to see anything but cloud!

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With time to spare before our pick up, we decided to take the Eastern Steps down. It definitely made sense that the porters prefer using these steps! The walk down was long but nowhere near as long or as steep as the Western steps. It was actually a fairly pleasant walk even in the train.

I’ve come to the conclusion that every rock in this park has a name. Most of the time it’s pretty hard to A work out which exact rock they are talking about and B how on earth it connects to the name it has been given. I guess that’s all part of the fun.

Wet and tired, we had a quick lunch before taking the bullet train to Hefei. We must be going up in the world because we’re in a five star hotel. It comes complete with gas masks for our protection. 😉

This concludes the Yellow Mountains part of our trip. Stay tuned for our next destination Guilin!

xoxo

P.s More photos?

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