This is the most beautiful nature sight in China from what I've seen so far. It is just amazing when you walk all the way to the top on stairs that have been there for centuries. Seeing something that is hard to imagine when you would hear someone talk about it. I am glad we had misty weather which made everything look like a mystery, although I would love to go back someday and see this place on a clear day!
It is unfortunaty when it starts raining, which it did on our second day when we had to climb down. But don't let this bring you down, because now I can tell you that climbing it by steps and being on top is an experience that you will never forget and always think back of smiling.
Hongcun, the cow-like village.
Visitors used to have to get a special permit to visit these Huizhou villages, but now you just need to pay an entrance fee to go inside these villages, notably Hongcun and Xidi, in the Yixing county.
Entrance fee for Hongcun village is 80 yuan. This well-preserved centuries old village is unique. What's so special about Hongcun is that the village was designed by a feng shui master to resemble a cow. The tour guide will explain which part of the village is the anatomical equivalent to the cow and you will need some imagination to link the two. For example, the two old trees at the entrance to the village represent the horns, the four bridges the legs, the bodies of water the stomach, etc., etc.
Now, we finally get to see some people. Well, that's because I reached my 2nd base, that night I'm supposed to spend at this hotel somewhere in the middle of the mountains. It's a complicated system of navigation. One would never get the direction even by looking at the map. Trust me, you'll have to be there to know what I'm talking about. Mei emailed me the map b4 my arrival & everything looked close; boy, if that means climbing innumerable steps for hours, you still have to do it because there's no way out but ahead!
Those who are not fit, kindly do not hike here!
The Most Scenic Mountain I've Ever Seen
"Comments on Sharrie's Huangshan Page"
I was on a package tour to Huangshan and 5 South China cities last summer. A lot of people informed me about the must-carry's: raincoat, walking stick, lightly-loaded backpack, and so on. The rain at Huangshan is really a blessing, because the well-known 'cloud sea' will show only after the rain (the other 3 best-known wonders about Huangshan are pine trees, rock formations, and hot springs). Did you also see 'the welcoming guest pine-tree' (which is the nationally most famous pine-tree) and 'the accompanying guest pine-tree' alongside with 'the farewell guest pine-tree' (which is very rarely mentioned on other occasions or represented in art forms)? Did you buy a lock, have it inscribed, and throw the keys into the ravines? I lived at a group bunk-bed lodging for one night, and saw the sunrise at 'Light Peak' the next morning. Did you see those men who carry almost everything to the hotels on their shoulders? This is why things should be even more expensive. Did you see some climbers are carried on 'sedans'? These men work with their sheer strength and are extremely underpaid. My nephew and I climbed unto the 'flown-over stone' and he touched it 4 times, each meaning something (family harmony, career success, wealth, and the 4th time romantic luck). This stone is said to be left over by the Goddess who mended the sky and was incarnated into Monkey King; another legend goes that Precious Jade (of the Dreams of Red Mansions) was born with this stone in his mouth. I also bought Huangshan tea, 'rock ear' (fungi, very healthy food), and chrysanthemum tea. Besides those well-acclaimed peaks, trees, rocks, and so on, the surrounding areas are equally awesome. My tour co. put us on a non-air-conditioned and hard-seat-only slow train to enter Huangshan, and a very modern tour bus took us downhill. I saw endless mountain ranges and trees. The downhill zigzag path is the most beautiful path I've ever seen (unluckily I've never been to #1 on the west coast of California): mountains on one side, rice paddies and houses (both traditional and modern) on the other. My nephew (12 years old) and I climbed by foot up and down. Our legs hurt; mine hurt for 3 days and nights which failed to cease even when I was sleeping. Huangshan has attracted a lot of people to go back and back. It's ranked as one of the top natural wonders of the world by the UN. A Chinese saying goes, 'After seeing the 5 holy mountains, no need to see other mountains; after seeing Huangshan, no need to see the 5 holy mountains'. Part of my soul is sealed there for ever!