We went to Huangshan Mountain often referred to as Yellow Mountain at the end of May. We have been in the city to long and needed a mountain fix. To maximize your time on vacation we took an overnight sleeper train from Shanghai to the city of Tunxi (which is about 2 hours from the mountain). The train left the station at 9:20pm yet I had to work until 8:30pm. My co-workers were taking bets on if I would make the train, but to me that was part of the adventure. I put my running shoes on during the last 15 min of my class and told my students that we would be ending precisely on time today, and I literally ran out of class. I made the 50 min commute in 30 min and meet Katie on the platform with time to spare. I loved the challenge.
The train trip was as pleasurable as could be expected, yet we realized that earplugs are no match for heavy snoring. The next morning we arrived at our destination and grabbed a tuk-tuk (basically a pedi-cab) to get to our hostel. We made our way to Hongcun Village, which was made famous because many of the scenes from the film ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ were shot there. The village was a perfect example of ancient Chinese architecture, but its most distinguishing feature is the large Moon Pond in the center of the city. This was built to not only provide water for drinking, washing, and cooking but also fire protection. The water feed into and out of the pond with several very small canals that wind through the village. The ancient engineering was as impressive as the village itself.
The hostel arranged a bus to pick us up the next morning at 6:00am, which ended up only having 2 seats left. I got the chair that folds down by the door and Katie got the back row between some smelly old men. This first bus, which included a tour guide who talked in Chinese for an hour over a microphone at 6 o’clock in the morning, got us half way to the mountain. Then we had to change to a different bus to take us the rest of the way.
At the main entrance once we paid a hefty entrance fee we had the option of taking the cable car to the top or to hike. Most people take the cable car, but as you know that was not even an option for us. This was no Rocky Mountain dirt trail, but craziest stair workout you could ever imagine. Oh, and the one thing if forgot to mention it was raining buckets! It was a sight to see Katie and I trudging up an endless staircase made of granite into the clouds. It took us almost 3 hours to get to the top and we saw a couple monkeys on the way (we could smell them before we saw them, stinky!). Once we reached the top we had also reached the center of the giant cloud. The views were supposed to be amazing but instead we got views of white, very white clouds. Check out the best scenic area picture below.
From the top we had to walk a maze of poorly signed paths to get to the West side where our “hotel” was. Two hours of wandering later we made it to our “hotel”. Our plan was to drop our stuff at our “hotel” and continue hiking and enjoying the views. Unfortunately there was only about 20 feet or less of visibility so there was no point. So, we strategically use our heater to dry our shoes and clothes. We also meet some girls traveling from the UK who were saying in our dorm room with us. It is understandable that everything on the mountain is extremely expensive because most of it is carried up by porters. These guys use a bamboo yoke to carry up insane amounts of supplies. They make 3-4 trips up and down the mountain and have the biggest most muscular calves I have ever seen.
The next day was just as cloudy as the previous so instead of taking a morning scenic hike we sleep a little more and make our way down the West side. We knew this was a longer route but it is easy to forget that walking down stair for hours hurts as much as walking up them. After 4.5 hours of walking down we finally made it under the cloud and saw a sneak peak of some the views that we couldn’t see in the cloud.
That night we took a night train back to Shanghai with sore legs and a head full of priceless memories. Even though the trip didn’t turn out as expected the adventure was amazing and I’m reminded of a saying someone close to us likes to say, “The journey is the destination.” The fear of disappointment is never a reason not to do something. There were times on this trip that I thought the rain was dampening our experience, but as long as I’m having an adventure with my Katie I’m happy.
Enjoy the pictures! https://picasaweb.google.com/105315223482012434599/YellowMountain