Near Huangshan, Hongcun Village
Hong Cun is an amazing village where the water flow through the entire town for use of each household. It is a place for budding artists and film directors.
A wonderful village worth visiting after the majestic grandeur of Huangshan.
Pine trees growing out of peer...
Pine trees growing out of peer rocks, does not seem there is any soil around them. Many pine trees are of various shapes, some look like a fan, some of the truncks look like 'dragon'. Chinese are good at imagination naming the mountain scenes. So they name those pine trees 'Fan' or 'Dragon'. There are so many fairy tales about each peak (the most famous here, 72 peaks).
Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is a holy place of Chinese, something like Varanasi is a holy place for the Indians. Although the Chinese did not say so but I can see it is a godlike place for Chinese, especially standing together with this particular pine tree called The Welcoming Guest Pine. It cost 30 yuan for tourist taking photos with it, however, there is a pathway that you can squeeze into it for free but the queue is long, about 50 peoples at anytime, the tourists around you would come to tell you that it is a complete waste if one did not take photo with The Welcoming Guest Pine.
The Welcoming Guest Pine is on top of the mountain, roughly 5000 feet above sea level and once you are up there you can see it look like a downtown shopping mall, restaurants, hotels, souvenirs shops, and you also can see half of China's population standing with you.
Chinese of PRC believe you and your love one/ones can lock love up at the Huangshan. To lock love, first you buy a lock, any kinds of lock that are made of metal, then you and your love one/ones go up Huangshan, lock it at the steel chain, done!
Your love with your love one/ones are locked forever, forever ever in love!!!
Huang Shan Mountain National Park
Currently photos and info are under 'off the beaten path' section. I will move them to 'general' later.
The Huang Shan Mountain (aka 'Yellow mountain',or 'Huangshan') National Park can be reached easily from Shanghai (by air, or bus, I need to check if any train goes there later). More details will be added gradually.
Huangshan, now under UNESCO World Culture/Natural Heritage List, is located in the south An Hui province, about 40 kms long (south-north) and 30 kms wide (east-west). Its best scenic area is about 154 sq.kms.
Huangshai has spectacular landscape with its four unique scenes: interesting shaped rocks, waterfalls, unique shaped pine trees growing out of rocks, and its sea of clouds. Compare to other five famous mountain areas in China that each has its own unique scene, Chinese say 'There is no need to go to any other mountains after seeing these five, but after Huangshan, none of the five'. Huangshan has all the characters these five have, the steepness, the grace, the elegance, and so on. Its ever changing scenes attracts tourists in all seasons and inspired countless Chinese ancient poets for thousands of years.
Touring in Huangshan area, you can also visit some small villages nearby where the traditional architecture (Ming or Qing styles) especially the local unique Hui style houses, relatively well preserved. The fine carvings used in Hui architecture are famous, being the materials stones, bricks, wood, etc.
We flew from Beijing to Tun Xi airport (the closest to the park), then took a taxi to a hotel a few miles away from the park. We booked the Bei Hai hotel on top of the mountain but the local people said since there were thunderstorms the cable ride was closed and there was no way we could hike to the hotel with the time given on that day. So instead, the hotel taxi took us to the Emerald Valley and the Nine-Dragon Waterfall for the afternoon.
Next morning, we took a taxi to the park all the way to the Yun Gu Cable station (Yun=cloud, gu=valley). (We started our trip from the back of the touring area hiking to the front while other go reversely. It is all up to you.)
There were two type of fares then: RMB 50/one-way ride per person, but have to wait for 2-3 hours in the queue even in May when it was not the peak season; or RMB 65 for foreigners or dignities. However, just because you look like a foreigner and/or are willing to pay the extra cost for a higher fare, you are NOT automatically granted with it. You have to walk to its office nearby and negotiate with the officers there. Only with their approval, can you then go back to the ticket window to purchase your higher fare ticket. Then life would be easier: you do not have to wait in the queue, instead, you go to a VIP waiting room and get onto the next ride. Together with us, there were young PLA soldiers and a Taiwan housewife tour group. I thought the PLA soldiers should climb up to the top for a good training session. The Yun Gu cableway uses a cable car of 40-people capacity. Stand next to the window (front preferable) to have a marvelous view.
The end stop is the White Goose (Bai E Ling) station, from where you can hike to the ‘Just Believe Peak?(the title photo), the Refresh Terrace, Bei Hai (north sea area), then the Bright Summit, the Jade Screen Peak/Hotel, stay over one night, then Celestial Capital Peak. Finally we took the Jade Screen Cableway down to the Mercy Temple Station, then stay over night at the Huangshan Hot Spring hotel at the hot spring area where many hotels located.
The Jade Screen-Mercy Temple cable ride uses smaller cars of 6-people capacity with RMB 65 per person for a one-way ride. Watch your head when you walk out the Mercy Light station, the metal gate might not be higher enough to give you tall people head clearance, in other words, you would hear a 'bang' as you knocked your head on it. :(
Along the mountain paths, local peoples carrying human sedans trying to carry you or at least your backpack for a very cheap fee. We never let them do that.
Our strategy is to hike day 1 and stay in hotel A, then hike day 2 and stay in hotel B etc. Many other tourists use only one hotel as base (typically a hotel at the hot spring area at the foot of the mountain), but then waste lots of time hiking repeatedly on the same path.
The third morning, our taxi driver took us to a famous local village Xi Di. You would have to find a reliable taxi driver with a reliable car, he would be happy to pick you up after you finish the mountain tour and take you to some local villages (although reluctant, as some dirt roads really can dent their relatively car). He would be more than happy to give you his home phone number so that you can contact him when needed. Knowing Chinese definitely will help as these taxi drivers do not speak any English.
Huang Shan Mountain area is such a marvelous place with spectacular vista. However, they do not do a good job in marketing. The service need to improve as well. If you do not want to go there by yourself, there are tours organized by travel agencies in Shanghai etc to get there.
The paths in the park are very clean. In order to be on the UNESCO list, a site has to meet the UNESCO criteria, including, easy access, cleaness etc. Every 50 meters there is a trash 'well' built with cement or rock, so look natural in its natural setting. People wearing uniforms constantly sweep the main paths. However, many tourists still have a bad habbit littering all over...
Everything in the hotels on top of the mountains is carried up by local people - very cheap labor cost. Right next to the empty yet running cablecars, local people climb up with huge metal file cabnets, logs, cement, rice, etc on their backs. From time to time, you may have to stop to let these local 'porters'-be they in their 20s to 70s - pass first, as the logs they carry are so huge, there was no way they can turn around for you.
If you are 'lucky' to share the mountain path with some VIP group, you would have to wait till them pass first. A group of Thai royal family people visited there when we were there, the security people blocked everye one from walking along with the dignities even when the paths were wide enough. One good thing is that if you follow them, you would have a 'free' English guide to show you the details such as this rock looks like a monkey, and that one, two monks playing chess.
Be prepared to use the restroom. Hold your breath! Bring your own paper. We found the public restrooms in one of the top end hotels, namely, Bei Hai hotel, filthy dirty.
We had our lunch there in the hotel's dinning room, so as the Thai dignities (in their private room of course). The lunch was RMB 64 (about $8) per person. There were fish, chicken, pork, soup, and a few vegetable dishes. Although the mountain area located in An Hui province which is famous for its Hui style cuisine, the cooking in the mountain areas is not the best. However, one of the famous mountain dish is steamed pheasant (shi ji= rock chicken) with a kind of wild fungus (shi er = rock 'ear'). That was delicious. In the morning, do not expect any cold milk nor cold drinking water, there were always hard boild eggs soaked in soy sauce, with several dishes of hot and salty and spicy local pickle like vegetables even though they might be fresh. There was always some steamed buns and rice porridge.
As a side trip, do not forget to visit one of the old villages nearby, such as Xi Di Village-Museums of Ming/Qing Residential Architecture (see Xidi, Anhui sheng, China page).