Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Zhangjiajie. Huangshi Village.


W

e arrived into Zhangjiajie late yesterday afternoon.  We had flown from Dunhuang with a layover in Xi'an.  As we were waiting for our luggage, I spotted our guide waiting for us on the other side of the window.  We had been guessing if Lee was going to be a boy or a girl and at first glance, I thought Lee was a boy but in fact, she's a girl.  Very much a tomboy :-)

Lee and our driver dropped us off at our hotel.  We are staying at the Pullman Hotel....VERY luxurious digs by my usual travel standards.  Lee got us checked in and then left us for the night.

I don't know what the other two did but Mal and I just spread ourselves out in the room and relaxed.

This morning, Mal and I headed down for breakfast and for some odd reason, we never met up with Yim and Sal.  Turned out, they had been directed to eat in another dining room which they said was a large room that catered to the Chinese tour bus groups.  The one that Mal and I were in was apparently for *foreign* tourists and I guess because I was with Mal, we got directed here.  I think the food is slightly different for both rooms.  Whatever  the reason, Mal and I really enjoyed our breakfast - we stuffed our faces.  I have to admit, the one big plus about staying in a high end hotel is the breakfast.

After breakfast, we met back up with Lee for our full day of sightseeing in the area. In the morning, we visited Huangshi Village which is located in the so called Wulingyuan Scenic Area, which is renown for its unusual karst landscape.  The Wulingyuan Scenic Area consists of three parts: Zhangjiajie National Park, Suoxiyu Nature Reserve and Tianzi Mountain Natural Reserve, covering a total area of 135 square miles.  Huangshi Village is situated in Zhangjiajie National Park.

In current day pop culture, it's this area, in China, that gave inspiration to the backdrops used by James Cameron in his movie, Avatar.  For Yim, this was the destination she had been very much looking forward to coming to.

Unfortunately, we stepped out of the hotel into a cloudy, dreary day and that was the forecast for the whole day.  Even if today is not so nice, we are here for two more days so hopefully the skies will clear up.



Lee got our park tickets which came in the form of a plastic card, the same size as a credit card, and are good for all the visits that we will be doing over the next 3 days.



From the main entrance, we took a short walk to where we would catch the cable car to get up to Haungshi Village. 



The area here is indeed very scenic though with the fog, it was truly difficult to get decent shots of the mountains.  I did my best but you can just feel how dreary it was.

This is the karst landscape that Chinese just love - it's classically what is depicted in Chinese paintings.  Truthfully, I don't really know how to appreciate the mountains here to really like the view.  It's okay but I'm not a huge fan.






The cable ran up through the tall pillars of rocks.  It was quite a sight to see!


It was a pretty short cable ride to the top.



We began our walk.  There are several pathways that you can take to go around but we opted to do the one big loop to cover the main highlights.  I have to admit that the cloudy day did make for nice walking conditions.  Here are some of the photos I took on our walk.


This park is extremely popular with Chinese tourists and because you are limited to walking along the one path, there is no way to avoid a crowd.


The sign said no more than 20 people on the platform. There must have been twice that many.  Chinese are very good at ignoring signs!!



It was interesting to see trees growing out from rock crevices.  Where's the soil?


There were signs marking the main viewpoints.   Like this one....which is also known as Immortal Turtle in the Mist.  Chinese do love glorious names :-)


The turtle is the humpy rock below.  Can you make out a turtle?  If yes, you are better than me!


The path led us through lush forest.




We crossed paths with a group of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) who were very used to being around people.  In fact, one of them taunted a tourist - reaching for his water bottle.  I kept my distance as I didn't want to provoke an attack and end up in the hospital.  That would not have been a good way to end this trip!



It was amusing to watch the little ones at play.  Reminds me of young boys on the playground.




I loved the signs though I was perpetually puzzled by what they really meant.  I guess you have to walk over to find out.



It really was a shame that it was such an overcast day and the fog (at least I think it's fog) didn't help either.  The views would have been so much nicer.





I had to sneak in a photo of Sallyanne the Trekker.  No one would know it was her except her and I and for that reason, the photo would be approved for posting :-)




She was so disappointed with the weather.  She had been really looking forward to coming here.  I just hope things improve the next two days.


On our walk, we passed by people wedging sticks in crevices of a rock wall.  According to Lee, they are wish sticks.  Before the stick is wedged into the rock, the person makes a wish.  It is believed that for as long at the stick remains upright and positioned between the rock layers, the wish will come true.


Mal's a believer!




As best as I have been able to figure out, the word *village* does not mean village in the sense of a small community of people.  In the context of this park, it is used to describe areas that contain unique rock formations.  Signs are used to mark the direction and route to walk in.


Mal decided to use this one rock as her prop and did me the courtesy of doing several poses for me to photograph.  I just let her loose :-)

The hills are alive.....

No....not another photo....please.

Mal sexy?

I cannot take it anymore.....

My photo muse then ran away and I had to play catch up.


Name something you wouldn't expect to see in a National Park.  Did you say pharmacy?



We ended our visit to Huangshi Village by taking the cable car back down.


Next, it was on to lunch.  We left the park and headed to a nearby village...a real village with people.  There, we at a small local restaurant.  With Lee helping with translation, the gals did the ordering.

Lee is the one with the pony tail.  She's very sweet in nature but she's very much a tomboy.

Since we're in Hunnan, we dined on Hunnan cuisine.

Fern and tofu.

Braised eggplant.

Braised pork belly with salted black beans.  My favorite!

A communal pot of rice.  We were all hungry.  We ate a lot!

I ordered an herbal drink, called Wong Lo Kat, to go with my meal.  Had I been braver, I would have gone with the house specialty - snake wine.  Yes, that would be snakes in wine.  Live snakes thrown into alcohol and left to die.  That wine.  Thankfully, I have an excuse.  I don't drink alcohol though had it been a nice liquor I would have gotten a shot.  The whole "I don't drink alcohol" thing is just a preference - I don't have a medical reason for not being able to have any.



This being a Chinese restaurant, diners want to be able to select their food live.  Therefore, right in the dining room were containers of live frogs and salamanders for patrons to select their meal from.  You even get to pick from three different kinds of frogs.  Hmmm....I'm having second thoughts about Hunnan cuisine.





I left the restaurant happily full and ready to take on the afternoon.  We would head back to the park for another walk.