Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Zhangjiajie. A Walk Along Golden Whip Stream.


After lunch, Lee and our driver took us back to the park entrance where we took the path leading to the trail that ran alongside Golden Whip Stream.  The trail was basically a loop and it took us about 2 hours to complete. We had the occasional stop to take photos and admire the scenery but otherwise, we didn't break our stride.


The scenery here is very pretty and it's a very tranquil place for a walk in the woods as long as you're not surrounded by dozens of Chinese tourists who apparently love this park.  Golden Whip Stream is named after Golden Whip Rock and it flows from Laomo Gully to Confluence of Four Rivers then to Suoxi Stream where it finally joins Li river, one of the four rivers in Hunan Province. I love how Chinese ascribe names to their nature landmarks.  The major scenic spots here include Rock of Welcoming Guests, Reunion Rock, Purple Grass Pond, Mother and Child Peak, Bajie Carrying His Wife on the Back, Magical Hawk Protecting the Whip, and last but not least, Drunk Arhat.

The section of Golden Whip Stream that we walked alongside takes a meandering flow through the lush forest.  I thought the stream would be an ideal mosquito breeding ground but there were none buzzing around me.  I enjoyed the walk and here are some of the photos I took along the way.

This may be China but much of the flora here is what I see in the woods at home.



One section of the trail had what I would describe as balance blocks that test your balance as you walk across them.  There were several sets of blocks along the trail.

Lee watching over Mal who was perfectly balanced with every step she took.

At first, I thought they were benches but they are more balance blocks.

Boat shaped sycee set in the ground between Chinese coins.

My favorite set of  balance blocks came in the form of the classic boat shaped ingots known as sycee.  Sycee was a type of silver or gold ingot currency used in imperial China during under the Qin dynasty all the way until the fall of the Qing in the 20th century. Sycee were not made by a central bank or mint but by individual silversmiths for local exchange.  Consequently, the shape and amount of extra detail on each ingot varied.  While square and oval shapes were common, boat shaped sycee were also popular.  The value of sycee was determined by experienced moneyhandlers and based on the purity and weight of either the gold or the silver. In present day China, gold sycees remain a symbol of wealth and prosperity.


The trail often crossed the stream.


Mal was worried that the bridge would not hold her.  Of course it would!!  Even when she was well past halfway across the bridge she was still concerned it would collapse on her.


It's the end of summer and the water level in the stream was very low.










There was the occasional covered pavilion for sitting and just relaxing.


Curiously enough, we passed by a group of men and their ....what do you call these covered bamboo chairs?  Shoulder carriage? Apparently, if you don't feel like or can't do the trail walk, they will be glad to should you along the way.



The water here is known to be crystal clear and absolutely potable.  We happened upon a small group filling up their water bottles from a spring which flowed out of the mouth of a small stone dragon's head.


Mal took a sip and declared the water to be sweet and clean tasting.  She then proceeded to fill up her water bottle.






The trail looped back to our starting point.  I was expecting our driver to be there to pick us up but instead, we took a shuttle bus back into town.


The bus deposited us off on the other side of a giant pagoda which turned out to be official east entrance to Zhangjiajie National Park.


From here, we walked past a row of souvenir shops and small restaurants to a small side street where our driver was waiting with our car.  It was then a very short drive back to the hotel.  Mal and I are the lazy pair in the group.  While we hung out in our room, Yim and Sal did a bit of exploring.  They came back with some fruit for us - more of those delicious persimmons and some Chinese kiwi aka Chinese gooseberry. 


Although we most often associate kiwi fruit with New Zealand, the fruit is actually native to China; cultivation spread to New Zealand in the 20th century.  The kiwi that the girls picked up was slightly more longish in shape than the typical New Zealand variety that we find in US supermarkets.  The flesh was yellowish in color and the flesh around the seeds was bright red in color.  The fruit tasted no different than New Zealand kiwi but I think it was plucked from the vine at a later stage so it was perfectly ripe for eaten and sweet.  I really enjoyed it!


We skipped dinner but we would  join up with Yim and Sal for a night walk around the hotel. More on that in the next posting.