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Day 7 - HuangShan.

The Journey

Today was going to be a long day. Breakfast was at 7:15, and the groups assembled at 8:15 to start the tour. There was going to be a two and a half hour drive to HuangShan. We stopped off at the equivalent of a Motorway service station for a toilet break – no Western loos here, just holes in the ground. Along the way, we were driving through countryside, but there were still many towns and places of habitation. It is very noticeable how much new building is going on – especially of apartments.

The final part of the drive us upwards, along winding roads that are surrounded by greenery. There is a mixture of trees, and very tall and thick bamboo. This is the first area where we really felt that we were in the countryside.

Mount HuangShan

There is a cable car to get to the top of the mountain. In the waiting area, there is a shop. As I needed a hat (having lost my 2 Euro special somewhere in Heathrow) I asked the price – expecting it to be extortionate. What a surprise – the most expensive was 20 RMB – that's about £2, or $5 NZD. I bought a very fetching 'bucket hat' for 10 RMB.

The cable car gets a bit crowded – they fit up to 100 people into it. One of our party had a bit of a panic attack, and I'm not surprised. The route the cable car takes is very steep, and our fellow Chinese passengers were cheering every time we went through a pylon.

At the top, we piled out, and started walking downhill to the restaurant. This is not a place for people with disabilities. Once you walk down, there are a couple of ways you can get back – you can either walk, or you can hire a couple of guys to carry you up on a chair. This costs 300 RMB (£30 GBP, $70 NZD). Even so, I felt really sorry for the two slightly built carriers when one of the ladies from another of the groups on our boat chose to take this route – she was huge, and they were really struggling!

Lunch was not one of the best – really bland, and mainly vegetables. And it took too long – we weren't going to be on the mountain too long, and it took an hour. We would much rather have spent more time walking around outside. Just outside the restaurant is something we're really getting used to – another building site. You can't get away from them, even up a mountain!

The guide started to take us back upwards via a different route. There are some spectacular views here, and with cypress trees hanging into every crevice, and the mist and clouds, this is very typical Chinese scenery as you can see in traditional Chinese pictures. It is very beautiful – and although still hot and humid, it's not quite as hot as down near the river.

We were guided towards a track, and instructed to be back at the cable car station at 2:30. Further along the track there is the 'Cloud Viewing Pavilion'. This is actually just a little concrete hut, with a good view down the valleys, but is different as local lovers have locked engraved padlocks onto the chain that stops the visitors from falling over the edge. This is supposed to represent their 'locked-in love' for each other. After this, Art and Dave took the 'short cut' back, and the rest of us carried on down the track. There are some very steep steps on this bit, and yet again there is only one way back – uphill!

We arrived back at 2:15 – a quarter of an hour early, and ready for a cool drink in the cafe. But our guide (looking very worried) hurried us into the cable car station. Unfortunately some of the group were still out on the paths, so we weren't going to be going anywhere! There then followed over an hours wait in the cable car station, with no explanation. Eventually I went to find someone who could tell us what was going on. Apparently there was a threat of a thunderstorm, and during such times the cable car was closed. Now, if they had told us this instead of just leaving us sitting there, there would have been many, many less disgruntled people, and many more who were prepared to be more understanding.

Eventually, at 3:30, we were allowed onto the cable cars, and back down to the buses. We were going to be late back.

Although the scenery was beautiful, we're not convinced the experience was worth it. We spent 5.5 hours travelling on a bus, for 3.5 hours up on the mountain, of which over an hour was spent at lunch and over an hour was spent on a cable car station. That meant we had 1.5 hours seeing the scenery – and a chunk of that was in the crowded cable cars.

Fishermens nets

As we stepped onto the boat, and headed for our rooms, the boat left the quay. As our balcony was on the side nearest the bank, we sat and relaxed for a bit before dinner. On the next balcony was Dave & Jean.

The wake from the boat was causing large waves up the bank. We were commenting on this, when Dave said 'there are some fishermens nets' up ahead'. The first couple were on pivots, so the fishermen could hoist them upwards, and out of the way of our wake. The didn't look very amused, though. Then some more appeared on the horizon. These were much simpler affairs. With bamboo poles stuck upright in the riverbed, and netting in between. As the wave from the wake of the boat passed, it snapped them all off like twigs! I think there will (quite rightly so) be some very unhappy fishermen when they go back to see what they have caught! And it was really so unnecessary – the captain should have been further away from the bank and/or been going slower.

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holidays/abroad/china/day_7.txt · Last modified: 2010/09/05 02:45 by art
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