Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tianmen Mountain. The Glass Skywalk.


Today's cloudy skies and the fact that today is my last day on this trip did not detract from my excitement.  Today, was a trip highlight day!  We got to walk on 5 foot wide, 100 meter (328 feet) long glass skywalk that stretches around a cliff on Tianmen Mountain, a mountain located within Zhangjiajie National Park.

The glasswalkway was recently converted from a wooden pathway.  Called the Coiling Dragon Cliff, the glass skywalk clings to the face of the mountain at 4700 feet above the valley floor!  This is the newest of the three glass skywalks that are attached to Tianmen Mountain.  It was opened to the public in early August and we were lucky enough to experience walking on it!

From our hotel, we drove to another part of Zhangjiajie.  Our driver dropped us all off in front of the cable car station that would take us to the top of Tianmen Mountain. 



On the outside of the station there were barriers set up to force people into lining up to enter inside.  Today, there was no one in line but give the long length the queue would be, they are prepared for a veritable mass of people lining up for a cable car ride!

Inside the building was another story.  There was already a lot of people queued up but surprisingly, the line moved very quickly.





The Tianmen Mountain Cableway has 98 cars and a total length of 7,455 meters (24,459 feet) and an ascent of 1,279 meters (4,196 feet) The sharpest angle of ascent is an unusual 37 degrees! The first part of the cable ride took us over the city.




Then we passed over fields.  It's amazing to me to see agricultural areas so close to a major metropolitan area.  Zhangjiajie is much larger in size than I had expected.



Next thing you know, we are in the park.




The cable car went up and down hills as it ascended towards the top of the mountain.  It was fun ride!



Instead of taking the cable car up to the top, you can also drive up Tongtian Avenue, a mountain road with 99 turns that snakes up the mountain.  According, we'll be taking a shuttle bus that will take us down the mountain back to the cable car station.




The views got more dramatic as we got higher up!



The aerial tramway ride is the longest in the world, taking about 30 minutes to complete. The last part of the cable ride is the sharp 37 degree ride.  You can see just how sharp the angle is from the cable wires!




As soon as we got off the cable car, we headed for the path that would take us to the Coiling Dragon Cliff glass walkway which on the map below is the section that overlooks Tongtian Avenue aka the 99 Bends.

Image from China Highlights

We strolled along the Coiling Dragon Walkway which is a concrete path that literally hugs the side of the mountain.  We all occasionally paused to take in the spectacular views.  To bad it was cloudy, hazy day  :-( 





From a far distance, Lee pointed out the glass skywalk to us.  I saw nothing but bodies and braced myself to be with a crowd when it would be our turn to experience the walk on glass.



Aka the Coiling Dragon Cliff glass skywalk.  It's a mouthful to say!

Before we could get on the glass, we had to don booties; I presume to prevent the glass from being scratched.



Initially, I thought the glass was frosted and that would have been a great disappoint but to my delight, it was clear! 


You can see all the way to the valley floor - in some sections of the walkway, all the way to 4,600 feet below!  Wow!  Talk about a view!



Of course, this is the place for photo ops though I gave up any chance of just taking a photo of the glass without a person on it.  It was so crowded that at times, I had no choice but to stop walking. It wasn't even possible to walk around the person in front of me!  Patience!





There were No Leaping signs posted up.  At first, I thought they meant to not jump over the glass partition but on second thought, it's to prohibit people from jumping up and down. A while back, in one of the other glass walkways, cracks appeared in the glass and they had to close the walkway.  I wonder if the cracks by groups of people jumping up and down e.g., doing happy jumps.  You would think that would be a stupid thing to do but nothing that tourists do these days, no matter how stupid, surprises me anymore!



It was a short but fun experience to walk across the glass walkway,  Thankfully, I'm not afraid of heights!  I did notice a few people walking on concrete sections rather than on the glass.  I felt for them.  No fun being scared.  At the end of the glass walkway, we turned in our booties.



It's off to see the rest of this part of the park.