Monthly Archives: January 2015

the yangshuo countryside & xianggong hill

Friday, January 30: After leaving the tea plantation, we head north, passing through boundless farmland.  The kumquat orchards sprawl over rolling mountains, less sharp around the edges than the karsts; these mountains are clustered in the midst of the karsts between Yangshuo and Guilin.

Here are two views of the same valley, but in the first one you can see the karsts in the distance, and in the second you can see the road to the village.  For some reason, I love that little road, snuggling up to the edge of that mountain.

view of a farming village along the way

view of a farming village along the way

the view of the road to the village with karsts in the distance

the view of the road to the village with karsts in the distance

Along the way, we stop at a view-point where we can see, to our north, the famous karsts of Xingping, and beneath us, the Li River winding its way through the jagged peaks.

view of the Li River

view of the Li River

View of the Li River

View of the Li River

me with Mike at a stopping point overlooking the Li River

me with Mike at a stopping point overlooking the Li River

View north to Xingping

View north to Xingping

View south to farmland and karsts

View south to farmland and karsts

We continue our drive with Vivian’s husband.  He knows all the same places to stop that Vivian stopped with me in October.  I don’t even need to ask him to pull over.  This is a gorgeous valley filled with villages, kumquat farms, forests and other farmland.

valley of karsts

valley of karsts

I love how the karsts fade into the mist the further away they get.

karst landscape

karst landscape

to infinity and beyond

to infinity and beyond

stunning landscape

stunning landscape

final view of the valley

final view of the valley

Finally we end up at Xianggong Hill, where we climb hundreds of steps to the top; here we can see Xingping to our south, with its CNY 20 Banknote View and Chaoban Hill, among many others.  To the north, we can see Nine-Horse Fresco Hill.  Other peaks around Xianggong Hill have names such as Wave Stone View, Lad Worships Goddess, Grandpa Watching Apple, Chicken Cage Hill, Lion Hill, Pen Holder Peak, and Carp Wall.

Looking south to Xingping

Looking south to Xingping

The view north of Nine-Horse Fresco Hill

The view north to Nine-Horse Fresco Hill

Looking west to Lion Hill and other peaks whose names I don't know

Looking west to Lion Hill and other peaks whose names I don’t know

Northerly view

Northerly view

Village across the Li River form Xianggong Hill

Village across the Li River from Xianggong Hill

Mike atop Xianggong HIll

Mike atop Xianggong HIll

Looking across the Li River from Xianggang Hill to the villages

Looking across the Li River from Xianggong Hill to the villages

Me atop Xianggong Hill

Me atop Xianggong Hill

Looking northeasterly

Looking northeasterly

After we leave Xianggong Hill, we continue on our way to Guilin, making one more photo stop along the way.

Green fields and karsts

Green fields and karsts

marching orders

marching orders

as far as the eye can see

as far as the eye can see

Back in Guilin, which is just another sprawling Chinese city, we head directly to our hotel, The Guilinyi Royal Palace, where we pamper ourselves on the last night of our holiday together.

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Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Li River, Nine Horse Fresco Hill, Travel, Xianggong Hill, Xingping, Yangshuo | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments

heading to guilin: kumquat orchards & the seven star tea plantation

Friday, January 30: Our original plan was to take bicycle rides in the Yangshuo countryside, to take a bamboo raft ride down the Yulong River, and to rent an electric bike to explore the mountains and kumquat orchards north of Yangshuo.  The bicycle ride we did take was short and rainy.  The Yulong River rafts were closed for the season and weren’t due to open until Chinese New Year, or February 18.  And the rain prevented us from renting e-bikes to explore the countryside north of Yangshuo.

Weighing our remaining options, we arrange with Vivian at our hotel to have her husband drive us through the countryside north of Yangshuo on our way to Guilin.  We tell her we’re checking out a day early, and she reminds us we’ll lose our money for the hotel room tonight.  We don’t care.  Her husband will meet us at 10:00 a.m. to drive us through the countryside, with our suitcases in the van, and he will take us directly to our hotel in Guilin when the drive is over.

We eat our breakfast and take a walk around the hotel before we leave.  Across the street, we enjoy our last gray view of the Li River.

The Li River view across the street from our hotel

The Li River view across the street from our hotel

Behind our hotel, we find this pretty little courtyard.

the pretty little courtyard behind the hotel (Photo by Mike)

the pretty little courtyard behind the hotel (Photo by Mike)

And we take a parting shot of the Yangshuo River View Hotel.

Yangshuo River View Hotel (Photo by Mike)

Yangshuo River View Hotel (Photo by Mike)

Outside of town, we come to rolling hills covered in kumquat orchards.  At this time of year, they’re all covered in plastic sheeting to protect them from the rain.  In October when I was here, Vivian herself took me on a motorbike ride through this same countryside.  It was so much fun riding on the back of her e-bike with the wind in my hair!  The weather was lovely then.  You can see the differences in the countryside in this post: a motorbike ride through orange groves to xianggong hill

the drive through the countryside north of Yangshuo

the drive through the countryside north of Yangshuo

kumquat orchards protected with plastic sheeting from the rain

kumquat orchards protected with plastic sheeting from the rain

kumquat orchards north of Yangshuo

kumquat orchards north of Yangshuo

mountains and kumquat orchards north of Yangshuo

mountains and kumquat orchards north of Yangshuo

Our first stop on today’s drive is the Seven Star Green Tea Plantation.  In Chinese, it’s called Qi Xian Feng tea plantation and it’s about 14 km from the center of Yangshuo  According to a brochure from the plantation: It is about 600 meters above sea level.  Cloud and mist surround it perennially. Specially when it rains, the whole plantation looks like a charming beauty in white. 

I just love Chinese descriptions of places!

We walk around the tea plantation.  Luckily today it’s not raining, just awfully cloudy.

Entrance to the Seven Star Tea Plantation

Entrance to the Seven Star Tea Plantation

The green tea plants aren’t covered up.  In the distance, the covered kumquat orchards stretch as far as the eye can see.

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Views of the kumquat orchards from the Seven Star Tea Plantation

Views of the kumquat orchards from the Seven Star Tea Plantation

kumquat orchards

kumquat orchards

The plantation is a lot browner than when I was here in October.  If you’d like to see what the plantation looked like in sunnier weather, you can check out: the seven star tea plantation and return to yangshuo

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

view of orchards from Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

view from Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation

Seven Star Tea Plantation (Photo by Mike)

Seven Star Tea Plantation (Photo by Mike)

Seven Star Tea Plantation (Photo by Mike)

Seven Star Tea Plantation (Photo by Mike)

Chicken at Seven Star Tea Plantation (Photo by Mike)

Chicken at Seven Star Tea Plantation (Photo by Mike)

After we walk around the tea plantation, a young lady performs a tea ceremony for us.  I’m not a big fan of tea, especially green tea, but today it’s a warm and welcome treat.

a little tea ceremony

a little tea ceremony

After the tea plantation, we continue on our drive through the countryside, heading for Xianggong Hill, where we get marvelous views of Xingping and the Li River.

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Motorbike tour, Seven Star Tea Plantation, Travel, Yangshuo | Tags: , , , , | 22 Comments

massages and a day of rest :-)

Thursday, January 29: This morning, we both wake up feeling sicker than ever.  Out the window, we can see it is raining heavily.  Besides that, Mike was kept awake all night by a bunch of Chinese people having a barbecue on the street outside of our window.  Apparently they were talking, laughing and partying until the wee hours.  I was oblivious to the whole affair as I can sleep though any noise, including my own snoring.  🙂

Because of his awful night of sleep, and being sick on top of that, Mike is feeling pretty grumpy, which is unusual for him.  I am too, but at least I have more holiday after he leaves.  I already know my whole holiday will not be ruined by bad weather, as the forecast for Yunnan province is for sunny skies and in the 60s (F) and Myanmar’s is for hot weather (90s) and sunshine every day.  I feel so bad for Mike that we are near the end of our time together, and the weather forecast is for nothing good ahead.  Even if we were to stay 10 more days in Yangshuo, the forecast would still be for continual rain and cold.

Mike has been an extremely good sport about the whole thing.  I have not been such a good sport because I wanted him to see the best of China.  I had a great time in Yangshuo in October, and I wanted him to have the same experience.  Because of his demanding work schedule, this will probably be his only holiday this year, and it’s been ruined.  He has tried to put a positive spin on it, enjoying it for the cultural experience it has been.  Meanwhile, I have felt sad, angry, frustrated, and irritated.  Besides the fact that his vacation has been ruined, mine has too!  I haven’t been able to take any decent photos or to do the activities, such as hiking and bicycling, that I hoped to do.

Mike asks the hotel staff if we can change rooms and move away from the street.  He doesn’t want to suffer through another night of no sleep.  So we pack up our stuff and move to another room, one that has a little alcove with a tea table in it.  It’s kind of cute.

After moving, we go out for breakfast at the Rosewood Cafe and then go for hour-long whole body massages.  We return to the hotel room and put on our pajamas.  We stay in the rest of the day, reading, sleeping, snacking and talking.

Mike in our new hotel room, in his pajamas. :-)

Mike in our new hotel room, in his pajamas. 🙂

During this time, as we can see the forecast is for more of the same in Yangshuo, we decide we will leave Yangshuo one day early and return to Guilin. We’ll lose the money for our hotel in Yangshuo for one night, but as it was cheap, only $35, we don’t care.  We book a room back at the Guilinyi Royal Palace for Friday night, so we can have all of our creature comforts.  We must catch a train from Guilin to Nanning on Saturday morning, so we can have a more leisurely time by going to Guilin a day early.

The only time we leave the room is in the evening, when the rain has abated a bit, to eat a Chinese dinner at Cloud 9.

 

Categories: Asia, China, Cloud 9 Restaurant, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Rosewood Cafe, Travel, Yangshuo, Yangshuo River View Hotel | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

a cloudy day boat ride down the li river

Wednesday, January 28:  We go through a bit of an ordeal with our guide Esther today.  She has lured us into a boat ride down the Li River for a lower price than our hotel offers. She says she has connections.  I don’t understand how she can give us a better deal than the hotel, as the boat operators on the river charge generally the same prices, so she must be getting a deal on the transportation to the boat launch in Xingping and back.  She has already told us that the ride will be upriver from Xingping to Yangdi (east to west), and I told her I wanted the ride downriver from west to east, from Yangdi to Xingping.  This is the way I did it in October.  What’s so amazing about the downriver direction is that you end up in Xingping, where the jagged mountains are clustered together in such a fantastical array that a painting of them graces the 20 yuan bill.

Esther leads us through the streets to different spots, where she stops and looks all around for some mysterious person who’s supposed to show up.  She’s on the phone the whole time.  I still don’t like that she won’t guarantee the downriver boat ride, and she’s not telling us any details about who we’re going with.  She’s not planning to come along with us, and she’s being generally evasive.  As we move from one spot on the street to the other, with her on the phone yapping in Chinese and looking all around impatiently, I start to lose it.

I say, “Esther, you’ve had since yesterday to plan this!  How much longer will it be?” She keeps pacing up and down, searching for some vehicle that never materializes, and she has no answers.  Finally, I get fed up.  “I’m sorry, Esther.  You’ve had since yesterday to arrange this and you still don’t have it arranged!  We’re going back to the hotel.”

We walk away and leave her on the street, still talking on the phone.  Nearby, we stop into a travel agent, and we arrange the boat ride for the same price Esther was offering.  It seems however, that the downriver route is not available and the only way to go is from Xingping upriver a bit, but not all the way to Yangdi, and then returning to Xingping.  I guess the Li River must be lower at this time of year.  We pay the travel agent for the trip, wait about 20 minutes in the agent’s office, and then hop on a bus for the nearly one hour drive to Xingping.

On the bus, I’m squeezed in next to a Chinese lady who speaks excellent English.  She’s here in Yangshuo for the Spring Festival holiday with her husband and daughter.  She tells me her English name is Julia.  We have a long conversation about our holidays and her life in her hometown.  When we get to the boat launch, it ends up we all five share a bamboo raft together.

At the boat launch - waiting and waiting

At the boat launch – waiting and waiting

For some unknown reason, we have to wait quite a long time at the boat launch.  There are some boats lingering about, but no one seems to be manning them. Things are so much more disorganized than when I took this boat ride in October: a raft trip down the li river: yangdi to xingping

Finally, after at least a half-hour wait, we get on the boat with the lovely Chinese family.  We agree with the Chinese family that we’ll start in the front seat, which offers the best views, but we’ll switch places with them from time to time.  Sadly, the views today are not great anyway.  It’s a dark and cloudy day, but at least so far it isn’t raining.  We find out quickly that it’s quite cold on the river, with the cold wind and the spray from the river, and we realize we haven’t dressed warmly enough.

the Li River

the Li River

the boat launch at the Li River

the boat launch at the Li River

a dark day on the Li River

a dark day on the Li River

the cloudy Li River

the cloudy Li River

a river surrounded by karst landscape

a river surrounded by karst landscape

the Li River

the Li River

mysterious mountains

mysterious mountains

trees and karsts

boats, trees and karsts

For yet another day of our holiday, I’m disappointed in the dreary charcoal skies and the fog that nearly obscures our view.

a dark day on the Li River

a dark day on the Li River

the Li River

the Li River

the Li River

the Li River

The boat driver makes a stop at a little island where people are selling handicrafts, but none of us wants to buy anything.  While we wander about, the Chinese girl spends her time throwing heavy stones into the river.  Meanwhile, the boat driver sits with his friends and eats a snack.  We take turns taking pictures of each other.

our Chinese companions

our Chinese companions

Mike and I on the Li River

Mike and I on the Li River

It’s so funny, Julia reminds me so much of my Korean friend Julie.  Even her haircut is similar: my two closest korean friends

me with the Chinese girls

me with the Chinese girls

We pass on the opportunity to ride this little pony.

a ride on a pony, anyone?

a ride on a pony, anyone?

Finally, when our boat driver finishes eating his snack and chatting with his friends, we’re on our way again.

back on the boat

back on the boat

a boat with a view

a boat with a view

Soon after we get back on the boat, it starts to spit rain.  This continues for the rest of our ride.  Argh!!!!

Me, mother & daughter, and Mike on the bamboo raft

Me, mother & daughter, and Mike on the bamboo raft

heading down the Li River

heading down the Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

continuing down the river

continuing down the river

more picturesque views

more picturesque views

another boat on the river

another boat on the river

beach

beach

one of the larger boats for the Li River Cruise

one of the larger boats for the Li River Cruise

the Li River

the Li River

The Li River

The Li River

mother and daughter

mother and daughter

on the Li River

on the Li River

Li River views

Li River views

the Li River looking out over the end of our bamboo raft

the Li River looking out over the end of our bamboo raft

Cruising down the Li River

Cruising down the Li River

By the time we finish our ride, we’re all shivering and wet from the rain and the spray from the river.  We squeeze into the bus again and ride back to Yangshuo.  We go back to the hotel to rest and get warm and dry for a while before we head out to dinner at Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant.

The restaurant has two huge wooden sliding doors at the front.  Mike doesn’t realize they’re sliding doors and he pushes one of them inward, lifting both of them dangerously into the air.  He realizes belatedly what he’s done and he steps back, letting the doors clunk back into place.  Meanwhile the people in the restaurant run to the front to stop him from knocking down the two huge doors.  They’re so heavy that they probably would have crushed him if he had knocked them off their tracks.  He causes quite a stir!

at Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant

at Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant

Luckily after dinner the rain has abated so we take a short walk around the town again.  We run across some funny characters in the street.

characters on the streets of Yangshuo

characters on the streets of Yangshuo

We decide to warm up a bit in Mango by sharing a refreshing mango and ice cream dessert.  It’s really yummy, but that ice cream makes us shiver all the way back to our hotel.

Mike at Mango sharing his mango dessert

Mike at Mango sharing his mango dessert

the walls at Mango

the walls at Mango

Inside Mango

Inside Mango

We get cozy again in our hotel and read a long while.  There’s never anything on TV to watch as all the shows are in Chinese.  After our day on the river, we’re both feeling really sick, with coughs, sore throats, runny noses and general head colds and shivers.  We can see the forecast for tomorrow is for rain all day.  We decide that if it is actually raining, we will get massages in the morning and just stay in our hotel room for most of the day, trying to recover from our miserable colds.

 

 

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Li River, Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant, Rosewood Cafe, Travel, West Street, Xi Jie, Yangdi, Yangshuo, Yangshuo River View Hotel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

a morning walk around yangshuo

Wednesday, January 28:  This morning, loud explosions outside our hotel jolt us out of our sleep.  We hear musical instruments, and more explosions.  We hop out of bed, scurrying to the balcony to see what the hubbub is about.   On the street below is what looks like a funeral procession.  People are setting off firecrackers, leaving wisps of smoke and a trail of red litter scattered on the ground.  A street-sweeping crew follows behind to clean it all up.  Musicians are marching beside the procession, playing lively tunes.  Some people are walking backwards, facing what must be the casket, while the pallbearers and the mourners are moving solidly forward.

a morning funeral procession

a morning funeral procession

the sweepers

the sweepers

the procession on the streets of Yangshuo

the procession on the streets of Yangshuo

I guess this is our wake up call.  Esther, our bicycle guide from yesterday, has arranged a boat ride down the Li River for the late morning, so we get showered and dressed and head into town to grab some breakfast.

Yangshuo

Yangshuo

colorful cafe in town

colorful cafe in town

Write a postcard to the future and coffee

Write a postcard to the future and coffee

Chez Valerie

Chez Valerie

It looks like another gray day, but at least at this point, it isn’t raining.

dark street of the town

dark street of the town

We stop at the Rosewood Cafe, which has a warm cozy atmosphere and a great Western breakfast.

The Rosewood Cafe

The Rosewood Cafe

Mike outside the Rosewood Cafe

Mike outside the Rosewood Cafe

Streets of Yangshuo

Streets of Yangshuo

After breakfast, we walk around the streets a bit. As usual, I admire the lantern shops.  I go into one to ask how I’d go about transporting one of the lanterns if I were to buy one.  The two Chinese people at the counter obviously don’t want to have to make the effort to understand or speak English. They look up briefly and wave their hands back and forth in front of their faces, as if to brush me away, and then they get right back to the business at hand: their phones.  Some Chinese people can be so rude!  They just lost a sale, but what do they care?  Customer service is not part of the Chinese mentality.

Lanterns galore

Lanterns galore

Darn it all, I want one of those lanterns!!  I should have just bought one and dealt with the transport.  But after the salespeople’s rudeness, I won’t buy one from them on matter of principle. I will get one, I promise, before I leave China.

More lanterns

More lanterns

The streets don’t have much action on them at this time of morning.  Strangely, outdoor tables are set up at some cafes.  Don’t the proprietors notice the heavy skies?  Don’t they sense the threat of rain?

streets of Yangshuo

streets of Yangshuo

On a nice day, you can imagine this town is really cute, with its canals, bridges, red lanterns and colorful umbrellas and signs.

Canals of Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Canals of Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

bridges in Yangshuo

bridges in Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Pretty little footbridge

Pretty little footbridge

Canals of Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Canals of Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Pond in Yangshuo

Pond in Yangshuo

McDonald's ~ It's everywhere!

McDonald’s ~ It’s everywhere! (Photo by Mike)

The streets outside of the tourist part of town

The streets outside of the tourist part of town (Photo by Mike)

Busy Yangshuo

Busy Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

After our walk, we go back to the room to bundle up some more as it’s likely to be awfully cold and windy out on the Li River.

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Holidays, Rosewood Cafe, Spring Festival, West Street, Xi Jie, Yangshuo | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

a rainy day bicycle ride in yangshuo

Tuesday, January 27:  Though the bus ride from Guilin to Yangshuo is only supposed to be 1 1/2 hours, today it seems like it is longer.  It also seems to go through much uglier scenery than I remember from my October trip.  Maybe it’s the dreary weather, but there is also much ugliness in the human habitats and commercial establishments along the way.  Most of the buildings are of shabby concrete construction, of no architectural character at all, and junk seems to be scattered about willy-nilly.  It’s too bad the amazing natural landscape is so ruined by people.

We arrive and check in to the Yangshuo River View Hotel, the same hotel in which I stayed in October.  It seems shabbier now at off-season, and Mike is pretty disappointed after some of the nice hotels we’ve had.  Oh well, we get settled in and immediately go out for lunch.

On the street outside of our hotel, we run into an older lady who introduces herself as Esther.  She offers to take us on a bicycle ride through the countryside for a good price and she pulls out a book in which many foreigners have written glowing things about her in English.  She’s apparently wonderful, the most kind person in the world, energetic and hard-working.  We tell her we are interested in a bicycle ride this afternoon, as the rain seems to be holding off.  But we want to eat some lunch first, so if she’ll wait, we’ll go with her.

I would take the lead myself, but I’ve only been on one bicycle ride here in Yangshuo and I’m afraid we might get lost.  It’s late in the day to get lost, so I figure it will be nice to have someone along who knows the territory.

We stop at a pizza place and share a medium pizza because we only want a small snack.  It’s another cold and cloudy day in a what is becoming a long line of dreary days on our holiday.

Me at lunch in Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Me at lunch in Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Even the cute town of Yangshuo looks a little empty and desolate.

Street in Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Street in Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

We look for Esther after lunch but she seems to have vanished.  I go to the room to put on some warmer clothes, and Mike goes off in search of her.  He finds her (I’m not sure where), comes to collect me from the hotel, and we meet her at a bicycle rental place.  After finding some bikes that fit, we’re off.

We ride quite a long way until we’re able to make a stop at this lovely spot.  I am always in awe of Yangshuo’s karst landscape, with its mystical oddly shaped mountains jutting up from flat farmland.  Granted, it’s a dark and hazy day, so it’s not as beautiful as it could be.  But it still reminds me of ancient Chinese paintings and suggests romantic and poetic ancient times.

Farmland and karsts outside of Yangshuo

Farmland and karsts outside of Yangshuo

Esther is lively, cheery and energetic and luckily we all ride about the same pace.

Our guide Edith

Our guide Esther

When we stop for photos, Esther makes a phone call so we mill about taking a lot of shots while she’s talking.

Me and our bicycles (Photo by Mike)

Me and our bicycles (Photo by Mike)

Farmland and karsts

Farmland and karsts

the road ahead

the road ahead

landscape around Yangshuo

landscape around Yangshuo

Farmland and karst landscape

Farmland and karst landscape

stopping along the way

stopping along the way

fields and pointed mountains

fields and pointed mountains

Me at a stop along our bike ride (Photo by Mike)

Me at a stop along our bike ride (Photo by Mike)

the road into the village (Photo by Mike)

the road into the village (Photo by Mike)

We continue on our ride through farmland and old villages.  We pass some of the countryside hotels I’ve heard of, most notably the Giggling Tree, a place I want to try one day.

reaching to the horizon

reaching to the horizon

On our bicycle ride (Photo by Mike)

On our bicycle ride (Photo by Mike)

the beautiful karst landscape of Yangshuo

the beautiful karst landscape of Yangshuo

trees, grasses and karsts

trees, grasses and karsts

leaning towers

leaning towers

It seems to be getting colder and darker as we ride.

Karst landscape seen on our bikeride (Photo by Mike)

Karst landscape seen on our bike ride (Photo by Mike)

along our bike ride (Photo by Mike)

along our bike ride (Photo by Mike)

a waterway in Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

a waterway in Yangshuo (Photo by Mike)

Karsts and reflections

Karsts and reflections

After going back to one of the main roads, Esther wants us to stop at her friend’s restaurant so we can eat something.  We’re not hungry because we just ate lunch several hours earlier, and we plan to eat at Rock-n-Grill tonight.  Her friend’s restaurant is in the shadow of Moon Hill, so we can see a glimpse of it from below without climbing up to it.

Moon Hill

Moon Hill

On the way back down the main road, I am looking for the Passion Fruit Leisure Farm where Audrey and I had a lovely lunch on our bike ride in October: a bicycle ride through the yangshuo countryside

At this time of year, which is off-season, there is no lunch being served.  However, the proprietor is serving up some passion fruit juice.  We each order one and take our time enjoying it, much to Esther’s chagrin.  I think she’s impatient to be on her way.

Passion Fruit Leisure Farm (Photo by Mike)

Passion Fruit Leisure Farm (Photo by Mike)

Me sipping on a passion fruit drink (Photo by Mike)

Me sipping on a passion fruit drink (Photo by Mike)

Mike and his passion fruit juice

Mike and his passion fruit juice

After we finish our passion fruit juice and leave the farm, I know from my bike ride with Audrey in October that we are almost back to town.  However, Esther has other ideas.  She veers off on another backroad to take us through more villages.  Once we get off onto the backroads, it starts to rain.  At first it’s spitting, but then it turns into a steady drizzle.  It seems like we’re riding forever, with Esther pedaling furiously onward.  I am now miserable and wet and just want to go back to our hotel.  Finally, Mike tells Esther that we want to go back to Yangshuo.  It’s a very long ride back into town.  Meanwhile I’m getting drenched and starting to shiver.  I’m getting the chills and I can feel a cold coming on.

Finally, we get back to town, pay Esther her money, and go to the hotel.  The room is quite cold, even with the heat on.  Mike and I decide to grab a bite at Rock-n-Grill, just to get out of the hotel.  At Rock-n-Grill, the restaurant is toasty warm.  We order wine and delicious Thai food and thoroughly enjoy our meal.  After dinner we take a walk through the town.  It has stopped raining by now but I am feeling quite miserable.  I have been not feeling great ever since the day in Zhangjiajie when my feet got wet, but now, I can feel a sore throat and a bad head cold coming on.  After I walk, I put on multiple layers of pajamas and cuddle up in bed, wondering how on earth I will survive not only the rest of my trip with Mike, but the next month of travel I’ve planned after Mike leaves.

 

Categories: Asia, Bicycle tour, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Rock-n-Grill, Travel, Yangshuo, Yangshuo River View Hotel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

a lazy morning at the guilinyi royal palace before heading to yangshuo

Tuesday, January 27:  We arrived at our lovely hotel in Guilin, the Guilinyi Royal Palace, too late last night to wander around the grounds, so this morning, we decide we’ll have a leisurely breakfast and explore the grounds before heading to Yangshuo.  It’s the best hotel Mike and I stay at during our holiday, after the Hotel Pullman Zhangjiajie, so we’d like to savor it a bit before heading to our cheap hotel, the Yangshuo River View Hotel, for the next four nights.

The Guilinyi Palace Hotel

The Guilinyi Royal Palace

The hotel sits in the middle of Guilin’s Central Park, the city’s botanical gardens, but we don’t have time to explore those surrounding gardens today.  The hotel itself has pretty enough gardens on its own.

Guilinyi Palace Hotel

Guilinyi Royal Palace

Little waterways on the grounds (Photo by Mike)

Little waterways on the grounds (Photo by Mike)

Koi pond at the Guilinyi Royal Palace Hotel

Koi pond at the Guilinyi Royal Palace

Koi

Koi

Guilinyi Palace Hotel

Guilinyi Royal Palace

Banana plants on the grounds of the Guilinyi Palace Hotel

Banana plants on the grounds of the Guilinyi Royal Palace (Photo by Mike)

Pretty pavilion

Pretty pavilion

It really is a shame that this is only a stopover point on our trip, as we need to head on to Yangshuo by bus. It certainly warrants a longer stay.  As it turns out, we end up coming back here for another night, but we don’t know this at this time.  When we return, we’ll be able to explore the larger surrounding botanical gardens.

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Guilinyi Royal Palace, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

an extravaganza in zhangjiajie & a day of travel to guilin

Sunday, January 25: After our disappointing day in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, we at least have a show to look forward to: “Charming Western Hunan.”  We eat a nice dinner in the hotel, then walk next door to the theater to see an acrobatics and dance show.

I love how the walls of the theater have Chinese-style carved railings and red lanterns.  As is usual in Chinese public buildings, the space is not heated, so we stay bundled up in our jackets for the show’s duration.

The theater

The theater

I’ve seen a number of Chinese shows by now, and they’re always impressive in the way they use backdrops, lighting and sound effects.

Fire dance

Fire dance

Dancing extravaganza

Dancing extravaganza

They always seem to create either a magical fairy-tale land, or a land beset by violence and war.

Delicate Hunan

Delicate Hunan

Blue Hunan

Blue Hunan

The show is impressive, but not as good as many I have seen.  This one has several unrelated dance numbers, so it doesn’t tell a story.  Toward the end, there is a lot of talking by one person about various things that I can’t understand because it’s all in Chinese.  I think what she talks about is the history of Hunan province and the ethnic groups that make up the province.  But who knows, really?

Warriors

Warriors

We leave the theater, thinking the show is over, and we find this diorama of a traditional Chinese village in the lobby.

Diorama in the theater

Diorama in the theater

We also find an interesting wood carving with a fierce-looking face hovering over it.

in the theater lobby

in the theater lobby

When we walk outside, we find there is an outdoor theater as well, where people are doing all kinds of daredevil performances.  In one instance, a man lies down and blocks of wood are piled upon him like a pyramid; a lot of people come to stand on those blocks of wood.  It looks like the poor man underneath would be crushed to death by all that weight.

One of the performances really freaks me out, so much so that I have to leave.  I don’t take a picture because the light is so terrible, but now I wish I had at least tried.  A huge curved sword is brought out to the stage.  The sharp blade is facing up, and a man stands barefoot at one end of it.  He bends over and takes a piece of string and pulls it over the sword’s edge, slicing it cleanly to show how sharp it is.  Then he walks slowly down the curve of the sword barefooted and balancing on its sharp edge.  I can barely watch as I can’t stop imagining him slipping and falling and getting cut in half vertically!!  That is not something I want to see.  I would be traumatized for life.

The outdoor show

The outdoor show

It’s freezing standing outside at this theater, but the Chinese are very tough characters, used to living without heat or air conditioning in most aspects of their lives.  They seem willing to stand and watch for the duration.  Meanwhile, as a spoiled Westerner who’s already been suffering in the cold and fog all day, I am tired of being cold.  We leave early to return next door to the hotel, where we get warm and toasty in our room.  We leave tomorrow for Guilin.  With a day of travel ahead, all I want to do is relax.

Monday, January 26:  Today, we have a flight from Zhangjiajie to Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province, from 1:10 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.  When we arrive at the Changsha airport, we have to get quickly to the Changsha train station for a 4:17 p.m. train to Guilin.  We’re due to arrive in Guilin by 7:47 p.m.

We make the mistake of arriving way too early to the Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport.  This is a really small airport, one of the smallest I’ve ever seen.  It’s not heated and there is not a single shop open to grab a bite to eat or to get some coffee or a drink. It’s an extremely long wait for what appears to be the only flight going out of the airport for the day.  Not only that but the boarding starts late, making us nervous about making our train connection in Changsha.  The airline has the reassuring name of Okay Airways and it’s China’s first private sector airline.  It’s a small old-fashioned propeller plane, but the flight is comfortable and without incident.

It turns out we make it to Changsha with plenty of time to get to the railway station.  We take a taxi to the huge train station, where we immediately find a McDonald’s to grab a quick meal.  Then we get on our train for the 3 1/2 hour train ride to Guilin.  Luckily, it’s a fast train, with comfortable seats and not too frequent stops.

By the time we arrive in Guilin, it’s dark, and we find a taxi at the taxi stand to take us to our hotel, the Guilinyi Royal Palace, which is on the grounds of the Guilin Central Park, the city’s botanical garden.  We get dropped at a gate outside the botanical garden, where an electric cart waits to pick up hotel guests.  Here’s a view of the hotel at night.

The Guilinyi Royal Palace

The Guilinyi Royal Palace

We’re starving, so we go immediately to the restaurant, where we order a Chinese meal accompanied by beer and tea.

the restaurant of the Guilinyi Royal Palace

the restaurant at the Guilinyi Royal Palace

Me in the restaurant of Guilinyi Royal Palace, pouring some tea to go along with our beer

Me in the Guilinyi Royal Palace restaurant, pouring some tea to go along with our beer 🙂

There is a tea room where you can stop in for a tea ceremony.  It seems pretty deserted.   I’m not a tea drinker, so we opt not to go in.  However, we can hear this woman playing a delicate melody on a traditional instrument.

The tea room

The tea room

Finally, we can relax in our room.  This room, like the Hotel Pullman, also has a bathtub.  This of course is a rare treat in China, so I always take full advantage by taking baths in the morning and at night.

Our room

Our room

We plan to take our time leaving in the morning for Yangshuo.  The forecast is for more rain and clouds, so what’s the rush?  It won’t be the same as when I went in October, at which time I had warm and somewhat clear skies every day.

Categories: Airplane, Asia, Changsha, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Guilinyi Royal Palace, Hunan, Okay Airways, Train, Transportation, Travel, Yangshuo, Zhangjiajie, Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

to the heights of zhangjiajie by way of the bailong elevator

Sunday, January 25:  The forecast for today is as bad as it was yesterday, but as it’s our last day here, we’ve hired a guide to make sure we see the best of what there is to see in the shortest amount of time.  She meets us at our hotel at 10:00 and we head by taxi to the entrance to the park and then directly by the park bus to the Bailong Elevator, which will take us to the heights of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

me on the platform of the Bailong Elevator

me on the platform of the Bailong Elevator

According to Prafulla.net:‘The Bailong Elevator’ at Zhangjiajie National Park, China : The Highest and Heaviest Outdoor Elevator in the World:  Zhangjiajie Bailong Elevator (Chinese百龙天梯) is a glass elevator built on the side of a huge rock in the Wulingyuan Scenic Reserve in Zhangjiajie, China.  It is 1070 ft (330m) high and claimed to be the world’s tallest glass elevator.

It is the highest outdoor elevator in the world and it has three Guinness World Records: 1) World’s tallest full-exposure outdoor elevator; 2) World’s tallest double-deck sightseeing elevator and 3) World’s fastest passenger traffic elevator with biggest carrying capacity.

However, due to the potential harm caused to the surrounding landscape, its future remains uncertain.

Views of our surroundings from the bottom of the Bailong Elevator

Views of our surroundings from the bottom of the Bailong Elevator

According to Top China Travel.com: Bailong Elevator: Bailong Elevator, or Hundred Dragons Elevator, includes three exposure sightseeing elevators running parallel to one another. Each elevator can take 50 passengers every time and the speed is 3 m/s. If the three elevators run simultaneously, the amount of one-way passengers can reach 4,000 per hour.

The Bailong Elevator allows people to “go sightseeing up the mountain during the day,” and return to the bottom by nightfall.  So it provides convenience in transportation for visitors.  Moreover, passengers can access amazing scenery on the elevator, including the World Bridge of Yuanjiajie, Wulong village and Yangjiajie. The elevator integrates Mount Tianzi, Yuanjiajie, and Jinbian Stream as a single entity, solving traffic bottleneck problems in this scenic spot.

Sadly, I don’t take a picture of the elevator to show here, because I actually think it’s quite ugly.  You can see the actual elevator on one of the links above.

View from the deck of the Bailong Elevator

View from the deck of the Bailong Elevator

Prior to the elevator’s opening in 2002, it took visitors more than three hours to drive on dangerous mountain roads to Yuanjiajie.  It took more than five hours if you drove from the foot of mountain to Yuanjiajie scenic spot. Since Bailong Elevator has been accessible to visitors, the time has shortened to one minute and 58 seconds, which is considered to be a miracle.

We pay a lot of money to be whisked quickly up the elevator to the walkways built along the heights of the National Park.  The fog is so thick today you could stir it with a spoon, but as morning fog usually yields to clear skies later in the day, I figure it will get better as the day progresses.  I am dead wrong.

At the top of the elevator, the walkway begins

At the top of the elevator, the walkway begins

Our guide Kathy is one of the ethnic minority people who lives in the area (I can’t remember which minority).  At the top of the mountain she sings us a native song.  I would put my video on YouTube and link to it here, but YouTube is nearly impossible to use in China. Maybe when I return to the USA, I’ll be able to post it.  I’m sure she’s thrilled to be taking people on a tour here on this dreary and cold day.

Our cute guide

Our cute guide

We get some glimpses of the park’s pinnacles early on.

first glimpses from the top...

first glimpses from the top…

...and that's all they are: glimpses

…and that’s all they are: glimpses

But as we continue to walk, the fog gets thicker and thicker.  We get to a spot that shows a placard of the Avatar Mountain.  This is what we see:

The Avatar Mountain

The Avatar Mountain

I’m not kidding.  We can’t even see the outline of the famous mountain that looks so pretty on the placard.  I honestly want to cry.  I am so frustrated that this fog won’t allow us even a glimpse of some of the beautiful mountains here.

We do get so see scores of monkeys climbing over the trees and the walkways and the railings.  One of them even jumps on a girl’s backpack as she’s walking and tries to take some food from her.  She screeches, as I suppose I would do too if a monkey jumped on my back!

We continue on the walk and I feel increasingly depressed and frustrated.  I have so looked forward to coming to this place.  I’ve dreamed of having wonderful pictures to share, but all I can see is fog.  In some spots, the wind is blowing and the fog looks more wispy than in other places.  I stand in those areas for a long time, determined to wait until the wind blogs the fog away, if even for a split second, so I can see the mountains.  Here’s a gallery of some of what I see, but it isn’t much.

There are a couple of better views along the way as the fog does clear intermittently.

a few peeks of a few peaks

a few peeks of a few peaks

some slightly clearer views

some slightly clearer views

more slightly clear views

more slightly clear views

We continue on until we come to the No. 1 Bridge in the Earth.  A stone near the bridge says: This natural bridge connects the natural moat with a span of 50 meters, a height of 350 meters, a width of 4 meters, and a thickness of 5 meters.  When sunny, the bridge opening is obviously seen, when rainy the fog drifts in with sounds.

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

I’m trying to smile, but you can see it’s difficult.  I really want to cry and feel like I’m on the verge of doing so.  Can you tell?

me at the No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

me at the No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

Looking down

Looking down

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

The No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

Locks on the bridge

Locks on the bridge

a few more glimpses from the bridge

a few more glimpses from the bridge

fleeting sights along the bridge

fleeting sights along the bridge

looking into the depths

looking into the depths

View from No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

View from No. 1 Bridge in the Earth

More locks on the bridge

More locks on the bridge

On the bridge with the Chinese tourists

Mike on the bridge with the Chinese tourists

Mike and I on No. 1 Bridge

Mike and I on No. 1 Bridge

We look out on the opposite side of the No. 1 Bridge in the Earth, and we can barely see some of the pinnacles on the other side.

After our walk, we walk to another mountain, where I stand on the edge of a steep precipice.

Me on edge

Me on edge

Finally, we make it to a lunch place where we order my usual Chinese dishes of salty green beans sautéed with hot peppers and scrambled eggs with tomato.

Lunchtime!

Lunchtime!

Our guide tries to take us to an old village on the mountain.  We start to go in, but when she tells us we have to pay another entry fee, we decline.  I’m too depressed to go further.  Every bit of this trip has cost us a fortune, from hiring the guide, to paying the fee to go up the elevator to coming back down the elevator.  The fees are endless at this place.

the entry to the village that we don't go into

the entry to the village that we don’t go into

outside of the village

outside of the village

As we’re returning to take the elevator back down, we come to this statue of Marshal He Long.  A group of Chinese businessmen are milling about and posing with the statue.

He Long was a Chinese military leader who lived from March 22, 1896 – June 8, 1969. He was from a poor rural family of the Tujia ethnic group in Hunan, and his family was not able to provide him with any formal education. He began his revolutionary career after avenging the death of his uncle, when he fled to become an outlaw and attracted a small personal army around him.  You can read more about him here: Long March Leaders: Marshal He Long.

Statue of Marshal He Long

Statue of Marshal He Long

As we leave through the visitor’s center, we see these gorgeous photos of the park.  Here’s what Zhangjiajie should look like on a nicer day.

This is what Zhangjiajie SHOULD look like!

This is what Zhangjiajie SHOULD look like!

What I wish I'd seen

What I wish I’d seen

Unless I someday make it back to the park, what I saw today is all I will ever see.  Sadly, this will be my memory of the park: a mere suggestion of what it really is.

Last views of the park from the Bailong Elevator platform

Last views of the park from the Bailong Elevator platform

final view of Zhangjiajie

final view of Zhangjiajie

We take the park bus back to the entrance, where the bus driver is much more careful and slow-moving than yesterday’s driver, who careened around the many curvy cliffside roads to return us to earth.

Back at our hotel. we rest awhile before going to a Chinese acrobatic and dance show at a venue next to our hotel.  More about that in another post.  🙂

 

 

 

Categories: Asia, Avatar Mountain, Bailong Elevator, China, Hunan, Marshal He Long statue, Travel, Wulingyuan Scenic Reserve, Zhangjiajie, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park | Tags: , , , , , , | 36 Comments

a fog-enshrouded day along zhangjiajie’s golden whip stream

Saturday, January 24:  Our next two days at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are to prove incredibly disappointing because of steady rain, heavy fog, and biting cold.  We are barely able to see the beautiful karst formations on the first day, and on the second day, when we climb to the higher elevations, we are often not able to see anything at all.  In some spots, all we see is a bank of white fog without even an outline of the mountains that are beautifully pictured on placards.

The entrance to Zhangjiajie Global Geopark

The entrance to Zhangjiajie Global Geopark

the view beyond the crowds of tourists

the view beyond the crowds of tourists

Outside of the park entrance, we are greeted by vendors selling cheap ponchos and shoe covers.   We each buy a poncho, me blue and Mike yellow.  I buy a pair of plastic camouflage-patterned shoe covers for my tennis shoes; Mike doesn’t because he has good waterproof hiking boots. I come quickly to regret this decision.

me in several layers of clothes as well as a big blue poncho and some camouflage-colored shoe covers

me in several layers of clothes as well as a big blue poncho and some camouflage-colored shoe covers

Inside the gate, we’re greeted on the walkway by the monkeys that occupy the park.  They congregate where the tourists do, in hopes of getting some snack food, which they most certainly do.  Chinese tourists love to share junk food with animals of all sorts.

one of the many monkeys in Zhangjiajie

one of the many monkeys in Zhangjiajie

According to China Highlights: Zhangjiajie, Zhangjiajie sits in the west of Hunan Province, 330 kilometers from Changsha, the capital of the province, and over 1,000 kilometers from both Shanghai and Beijing.  The park is famous for its precarious peaks, limpid streams, dense forests, and large karst caves. In 1982, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park became China’s first national forest park.

Zhangjiajie was the inspiration for James Cameron’s movie Avatar. The park is known for its stone pillars that reach over 1km in height and resemble the ones seen in the movie; I haven’t seen the movie myself. The area has approximately 3,000 tall quartzite sandstone pillars.  These are different from the karst formations in Guilin, which are limestone.

According to Wikipedia: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: Although resembling karst terrain, this area is not underlain by limestones and is not the product of chemical dissolution, which is characteristic of limestone karst. They are the result of many years of physical, rather than chemical, erosion. Much of the weathering which forms these pillars are the result of expanding ice in the winter and the plants which grow on them. The weather is moist year round, and as a result, the foliage is very dense. The weathered material is carried away primarily by streams. These formations are a distinct hallmark of Chinese landscape, and can be found in many ancient Chinese paintings.

We are advised by Donald, an English-speaking Chinese manager at the Hotel Pullman, to take a 5 km walk today along Golden Whip Stream, since it will be raining all day.  I’m interested in going to the higher elevations, but we’ll wait until tomorrow in hopes that the rain and fog will clear so we can enjoy the views. Golden Whip Stream is in Jinbianxi Canyon, a deep canyon surrounded by cliffs and peaks.  A sign at the park says the distance from the peaks to the valley bottom is 350-500 meters and the width of the valley base is 30-80 meters.

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

More monkeys are in the trees around us.  This mother is holding her baby close.

monkeys at Zhangjiajie

monkeys at Zhangjiajie

We can see some beautiful peaks along our walk, peaks with names such as Golden Whip Crag and Splitting Mountain to Save Mother, among others.  They’re enshrouded in fog.

 

peaks along Golden Whip Stream

peaks along Golden Whip Stream

Zhangjiajie's poetic peaks

Zhangjiajie’s poetic peaks

mystical peaks

mystical peaks

Limestone karst formations at Zhangjiajie

Limestone karst formations at Zhangjiajie

peaks through the trees

peaks through the trees

As we walk along the stream, it feels like my feet are getting colder and colder.  They even feel like they’re wet, but how can they be?  I have those plastic shoe covers on.  I inspect my shoes and find that water has collected on the plastic shoe covers and is seeping into my shoes.  They are soaked through and through.  I take off the shoe covers, realizing too late that I would have been better off without them.  My feet are soaked and will be for the rest of the day.

the walkway along Golden Whip Stream

the walkway along Golden Whip Stream

Even with all the layers of clothes, I am shivering, and now with wet feet, I feel even colder.  But of course, we’re here to enjoy the walk and we must complete the 5km long path.  There’s no easy way out to return to the hotel to change my shoes as there are no cars or roads along this trail.

views along the stream

views along the stream

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

I try to look cheery even though I'm cold and miserable and disappointed.

I try to look cheery even though I’m cold and miserable and disappointed. (Photo by Mike)

Every once in a while we get a glimpse of color through the fog, and I foolishly hope that the fog will lift.  It doesn’t.

misty views

misty views

looming tower of Golden Whip Crag

looming tower of Golden Whip Crag

Closer view of Golden Whip Crag

Closer view of Golden Whip Crag

More pinnacles

More pinnacles

towering pinnacles

towering pinnacles

Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie

Some of the peaks have interesting names.  This one is Splitting Mountain to Save Mother.

Splitting Mountain to Save Mother

Splitting Mountain to Save Mother

I wonder what they look like on a sunny blue-sky day?

I wonder what they look like on a sunny blue-sky day?

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

Another pinnacle along Golden Whip Stream

Another pinnacle along Golden Whip Stream

How would you like to try to climb one of these?

How would you like to try to climb one of these?

After all our walking, we’re getting quite hungry.  We come upon a little set of food stalls in the middle of nowhere and we stop for a snack of corn on the cob and boiled eggs.

Lunchtime!!

Lunchtime!!

We continue on our walk through more of the valley.  The views would all be amazing if they weren’t so obscured by fog. I love how the Chinese give such interesting names to mountains.  Along this trail, we see: Monkey Playing in the Chinese Yew Grove, Master and Apprentice Journey to the West, Pigsy Looking in the Mirror, Two Turtles Peeking at the Stream, Rabbit Watching Moon, Soldiers Gathering and Candle Peak.

Luckily, it has stopped raining by now, but my feet are still wet and I’m shivery cold.

The end of the trail deposits us at a parking lot in front of a little museum.  We wander about inside looking at the exhibits describing the karst formation at Zhangjiajie. We’re also hoping to get warm here, but no such luck; the building isn’t heated.

We take a small bus to another part of the park where you can take a train for some more views.  This is called the Long Gallery.  Some of the peaks which we can barely see here are called Her Collecting Old Man, Three-Sisters Peaks, and The God of Longevity Welcoming Guests.  Our views are even more hazy on this train ride.

When we get back to our hotel, I’m happy to take off my wet shoes and to take a long hot soak in that bathtub, drinking a glass of wine in the steaming water.  I can open the slatted doors and chat with Mike in the room.  It’s lovely.  Then we treat ourselves to a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Hotel Pullman restaurant

Hotel Pullman restaurant

Mike orders steamed broccoli and gets a huge plate of it.

Mike orders steamed broccoli and gets a huge plate of it.

Me at dinner.  I order a plate of spring rolls.

Me at dinner. I order a plate of spring rolls.

Donald, an English-speaking manager at the Hotel Pullman, has been super friendly and helpful to us.  As we only have one more day in Zhangjiajie, we ask him if we can hire a guide for the day to take us to the higher elevations.  He arranges the guide for us, even though we all know that another rainy and foggy day is forecast for tomorrow and our chances of seeing anything are slim to none.

This is Donald

This is Donald

If you want to see some pictures of how this park looks in beautiful weather, I suggest you drop by to visit China Nomads: The Karst Peaks of Zhangjiajie.

Categories: Asia, China, Golden Whip Stream, Hotel Pullman Zhangjiajie, Hunan, Jianbianxi Canyon, Travel, Wulingyuan Scenic Reserve, Zhangjiajie, Zhangjiajie Global Geopark, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park | Tags: , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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