a train to zhangjiajie & an afternoon at baofeng lake scenic spot

Friday, January 23:  Everyone should know by now my aversion to buses, especially those of the Chinese variety.  Usually I won’t submit to one over two hours long, opting for a train or a plane if possible.  Sometimes I’ll even pay a taxi an exorbitant sum just to avoid them.  In this case, we need to get back to Jishou this morning for a 10:48 train to Zhangjiajie, only about an hour’s bus ride, but I still don’t want to take the bus.  We decide we’ll pay for a taxi, directly from our hotel to Jishou.  I can’t remember the amount we pay, but whatever it is, it’s worth it.  Sometimes I don’t care about money and I will opt for comfort and convenience over all else.

We arrive at the Jishou train station and wait with the usual hordes to board.  This is not a fast train, but an older one that makes numerous stops along the way. I love the new comfortable bullet trains, but I couldn’t find one for this trip.  This one is due to arrive in Zhangjiajie at 12:33, but as it’s late to arrive in Jishou, it’s also late to arrive at our destination.

Me at the Jishou train station - photo taken by Mike

Me at the Jishou train station – photo taken by Mike

The seats on this one are a little cramped, with three seats facing another three seats.  These are called the hard seats and were the only option on this train.  The bullet trains have only two soft and larger comfortable seats on them, and they all face forward.  It seems every college student in Hunan province is on this one.  They all have the same break from school that I do.

Me on the train to Zhangjiajie - photo by Mike

Me on the train to Zhangjiajie – photo by Mike

Somehow, Angela, my student helper who bought these tickets for me, wasn’t able to get seats for Mike and I together.  However, he’s sitting behind me, back to back.

Mike's travel companions - photo by Mike

My facing travel companions – photo by Mike

Here’s a view of our whole car. Notice how everyone’s on their mobile phones.

Our train from Jishou to Zhangjiajie - photo by Mike

Our train from Jishou to Zhangjiajie – photo by Mike

And of course, we must have at least one picture of a Chinese train toilet.

The squat toilet on the train - photo by Mike

The squat toilet on the train – photo by Mike

Zhangjiajie must be a big destination because the train station here is sprawling and relatively new.  New buildings in China seem to always be large to accommodate the large crowds of people.

the train station at Zhangjiajie - photo by Mike

the train station at Zhangjiajie – photo by Mike

Mike was worried about heating in our hotels, as I told him that I’ve heard there is no heat generally in Chinese buildings south of the Yangtze River in China.  He asked me to book us a nice hotel in Zhangjiajie, so I booked the Hotel Pullman Zhangjiajie, which is a real treat.  It turns out we don’t encounter many heating problems in our hotels generally, but this one is exceptionally toasty.  Most of the older buildings have wall unit air-conditioners that double as heaters, but they’re not that warm unless you happen to be right under them.

Our room at the Hotel Pullman - photo by Mike

Our room at the Hotel Pullman – photo by Mike

We have a great view of the pool below, but of course it is too cold to enjoy a pool.

the view from our room - photo by Mike

the view from our room – photo by Mike

The best thing about the room is the bathtub.  I love a long hot soak, and am normally a daily bath taker when I’m at home in Virginia.  Sadly, I’ve had to give up my baths for the most part when I’ve lived abroad.  I also like that the folding doors open up to the rest of the room so you can have a bath with a view!

the view from the bathroom (with bathtub) - photo by Mike

the view from the bathroom (with bathtub) – photo by Mike

Since it’s late afternoon by the time we settle in and eat some outrageously expensive pasta for lunch at the hotel, we decide to visit Baofeng Lake Scenic Area, which will not be so time-consuming as the Wulingyuan Scenic Reserve (widely known as Zhangjiajie).  At the entrance, a sign states that senior citizens get a discount, and so I give the woman the reduced price for Mike, insisting that he’s a senior citizen.  She refuses to accept the reduced fee and keeps waving her hand back and forth emphatically: “NO!”  After going around and around about this, someone else comes to the rescue in our stand-off and states in broken English that this reduction is only for Chinese citizens.

When we enter the Scenic Area, there is a pedestrian-only road, and we walk uphill a long way until we see steps climbing up and up into the clouds.  It’s a very long walk up, with many stops to catch our breath along the way.

According to ChinaTravel.com: Baofeng Lake:  Baofeng Lake and the area immediately surrounding it offer pristinely beautiful natural scenery. Being located high up in the mountains, the lake catches some of the first and purest runoff water from the mountain peaks. Its height also guarantees an air freshness not found around lakes at lower altitudes. Baofeng Lake is bordered by lush green trees and shrub-clad stone peaks of various shapes that enclose the lake and give it a fairytale-like atmosphere. Indeed, Baofeng Lake is a reservoir, with a dam enclosing its waters, not for the purpose of power generation, but for the purpose of crop irrigation.

There’s a boat ride around the 2-kilometer lake, but we have to wait a bit for enough people to get on the boat.  Apparently, it’s the last one of the day.  So we wander around and check out the scenery, with the karst reflections on the water’s surface.

Me at Baofeng Lake Scenic Spot

Me at Baofeng Lake Scenic Spot

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

Mike at Baofeng Lake

Mike at Baofeng Lake

A Chinese woman, who is at the lake with her boyfriend, speaks excellent English and talks to us for some time about her business of exporting mostly to Middle Eastern countries. She also asks us a lot of questions about ourselves.  We ride on the same boat together.

The boat ride is actually quite short.  It’s overcast today, but tomorrow rain and fog are forecast, so I guess we should be happy with the non-leaking clouds.  It’s a little disappointing after our sunny but cold days in Fenghuang.

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

Karsts at Baofeng Lake

Karsts at Baofeng Lake

As we approach this little cottage, a woman in ethnic costume walks out on the porch and serenades us with a lovely melodic song.

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

a folk singer at Baofeng Lake

a folk singer at Baofeng Lake

All onboard give her a round of applause and we continue on our little boat ride.

The average depth of the lake is 72 meters, and as I stand near the edge of the boat to take pictures, the Chinese woman asks me if I’m not afraid to stand so close to the edge of the boat when the water is so deep.  I say to her that it doesn’t really matter about the depth of the water because I can swim.  Whether it’s 10 meters or 100 meters makes no difference.  I guess I don’t understand these kinds of fears.

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

Here’s the boat.

Our boat

Our boat

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

a boat on Baofeng Lake

a boat on Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake - photo taken by Mike

Baofeng Lake – photo taken by Mike

Karsts at Baofeng Lake - photo taken by Mike

Karsts at Baofeng Lake – photo taken by Mike

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake

After our boat ride, we are deposited on another shore, and we walk down many flights of steps to the valley floor.  Here’s our view from above as we walk down.

the view from the top

the view from the top

We see this old set of steps that is no longer used.  It looks a little scary and precipitous!

some steep steps no longer used

some steep steps no longer used

At the bottom, we find a koi pond.

Koi in the pond

Koi in the pond

And a hanging bridge, which we walk over.  It is more scenic from below.

a bridge at the bottom of the mountain

a bridge at the bottom of the mountain

From the valley floor, we can see the karsts towering above us.



As well as a grove of bamboo.

Bamboo grove - photo taken by Mike

Bamboo grove – photo taken by Mike

We decide we will walk back to town, which turns out to be quite a long haul, especially after all the stair climbing and descending we did to get to Baofeng Hu.  We find a restaurant, where I use my WayGo app to read the all-Chinese menu and we order a meal of bok choy, eggs with scallions, rice and pickled radishes, accompanied by two tall beers.  As most people know already, I don’t have many choices in Chinese restaurants as the meat is all full of gristle, fat and bones.   These make me gag.

Our dinner: eggs and scallions and bok choy with rice

Our dinner: eggs and scallions and bok choy with rice

Mike at the restaurant

Mike at the restaurant

me enjoying our dinner after our long hike

me enjoying our dinner after our long hike

We drop by a convenience store to buy some water, orange juice and a box of some of my favorite chocolate mousse cake snacks.  We’re exhausted from our day of travel and our long uphill and downhill hike, so I take a long hot bath and we conk out early.  The forecast for tomorrow is still for rain and fog, but I keep foolishly hoping it will change just in time for us to explore the reserve.

Categories: Asia, Baofeng Lake Scenic Spot, China, Fenghuang, Hotel Pullman Zhangjiajie, Hunan, Jishou, Train, Transportation, Travel, Wulingyuan Scenic Reserve, Zhangjiajie | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “a train to zhangjiajie & an afternoon at baofeng lake scenic spot

  1. The scenery is spectacular, what an adventure. All that walking you must be exhausted by the end of the day. What a thrill to have the lady in the cabin sing to you. Those are travel moments that stay with you for ever.


    • Thanks again, Pauline. I loved that scenery too; the weather wasn’t too bad at Baofeng Lake, but the next two days in Zhangjiajie Park were not pleasant, or conducive for seeing much of anything. It was fun to have the lady sing to us, and quite a surprise. I think she must be bored to death sitting in that cabin all day and then having to pop out on cue!


  2. I’m enjoying taking this trip with you. I love the photos of the lake – they are very atmospheric.


  3. Lovely scenes at the lake, and again the use of color in the boat. Your meal looks quite good – lamb shish-ka-bobs and hot pot were my favorites in Beijing.


    • Thanks, Carol. That lake was very pristine and beautiful. I really did enjoy it and our little boat ride. And the serenading lady.

      Back to the food again. This is what I eat at Chinese restaurants: typically dumplings, or eggs or vegetables. Hot pot is okay but not my favorite, again because of the fatty meat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lamb shish kebab in China. But I’m not sure I’d eat it anyway, unless I knew it was lean. That’s just me though. I have a thing about meat of any kind; when I prepare it myself, I make sure every piece of skin, gristle or fat is removed. The Chinese eat every part of any animal. 🙂


  4. Thanks for another long and exquisite day with you. The other post, I commented on all the oranges in the picture (which BTW, you should link to this week’s challenge). This post, it’s all that greenery! I especially liked that steep set of stairs that are no longer being used. I hope you took a lot of pictures of that. So much fun you could have with post processing it.

    Tell Mike thanks for being a good sport and taking all of those pictures, especially of you.



    • Thanks so much, Nancy. Mike is a good sport to take all those pictures of me; and he really had to be a good sport to deal with our nasty weather. He came all the way to China for two weeks, and he had exactly two days of good weather. I felt so bad for him, because as soon as he left, my son came and we went to Yunnan for 2 weeks where we had nothing but blue skies! I only took the one picture of that steep set of stairs, but I don’t generally do much with post processing, mainly because I don’t really know what to do! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d go by train any time rather than a bus. Much more comfortable.


  6. What a beautiful setting the lake is in, Cathy! Even in murky weather it’s lovely. So funny that Chinese lady coming out to serenade you! A bit like a clockwork doll but charming that they take the trouble. Just off to have my pink grapefruit and I’ll bring my toast and coffee to enjoy the next day with you (in the rain 😦 )


    • Thanks, Jo, the setting of the lake was lovely, so peaceful and without crowds, unusual in China. It was funny about the lady serenading us. On another part of the lake, a man also came out of a house and serenaded us too. It is like a clockwork doll!

      The rainy days do really get you down, don’t they, Jo? I had blue skies for a month in Yunnan and Myanmar, and have had nothing but rain in Nanning and it looks like the next week at least is more of the same. 😦 So depressing. Thanks so much for all the tweets, Jo!


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