I wish I'd bought the plastic bag outfit

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Old Street Youth Hostel

Flag of China  , Anhui,
Saturday, May 8, 2010

The minibus was picking us up at 6.15am to take us to Huangshan Mountain so we set the alarm for 5.45am and chose not to have breakfast as we'd ordered a packed lunch from the hostel for our pleasant day hiking. We joined everyone waiting in the reception area (there were about 15 of us in total) some people had walking sticks and others were tucking in to KFC so it was a real mixed bag. The mini bus was about half an hour late much to one Japanese travellers disgust who couldn't believe that getting fuel could take so long (that was the excuse that the reception staff had given him both times he'd asked). When the mini bus did eventually arrive we were all a bit bemused as to where we were all going to sit, it looked like an eight seater. The driver however started unfolding chairs out of everywhere and miraculously everyone got a seat (just).

All four of us were sat at the back and I was next to a Chinese guy who we ended up having a really insightful conversation with all about Chinese culture and politics. He was intending to spend the night camping on the mountain with a friend of his and it was going to be their first time sleeping in a tent. The further we got towards the area where the mountain was the more and more gloomy the sky looked, we regaled our Chinese friend with our washed out camping stories but he didn't seem to be put off. Brave lad. We on the other hand began to feel grateful that we had a comfy bed waiting for us. We arrived at the bus station and had to board our second bus as only Government certified coaches are allowed in to the mountain site. After a very steep and scenic drive within the grounds we eventually got to the foot of the mountain.

Mount Huang, also known as the 'Yellow Mountain' is on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List and is the inspiration for many Chinese painters and poets.  The well known Chinese saying is that "There is no need to see any other mountain after Huangshan".  Its famous granite peaks which reach 1864m were formed 100 million years ago and are well known for having an atmosphere which facilitates the growing of green tea.  It is also famous for its sea of clouds that swirl around creating an eerie atmoshere.

We paid the entrance fee of 230 Yuan each plus 80 Yuan each for the cablecar (we intended to climb down). It had started to rain a little so we donned our expensive waterproof jackets and sniggered at the Chinese people who had all bought plastic ponchos and matching trousers from the small stalls selling tat and all looked remarkably like lemmings. We took the cablecar up and the views were spectacular. We saw lots of waterfalls below us that looked tiny as we were so high up. Andrew chose to close his eyes at first and dither in the corner but after a while he seemed to acclimatise to everything and quite enjoyed it. When we reached the top however the rain had got much heavier, but still, being the troopers that we are, or more's to the point having forked out 31 pounds each for this priviledge and not wanting to waste it we started along the route to the summit. Within 5 minutes we were all absolutely p*ssed wet through. My combats were totally sticking to my legs and my boots were waterlogged. This was not fun. I had a sudden urge to rugby tackle one of the lemmings to the ground to try to steal their bin bag outfit but there was clearly too many of them we were totally outnumbered.

The rain only got worse. It had become torrential. Emer and I decided enough was enough and told Andrew and Rorie that we would meet them back at the cablecar. After about half an hour it even got too much for the Goretex and even they had to admit defeat, we all paid for the return cablecar. At the bottom we decided that we couldn't bear to spend another 2 and a half hours on a bus stagnating in our sodden clothes so we went halves on a taxi the whole way back to the hostel that cost us 20 quid, well halfway we were bustled out of the official taxi in to an illegal one but we didn't care we just wanted to get home.

Back at the hostel we peeled ourselves out of our wet clothes and the hot shower was divine. We sat in our room eating our packed lunch of rice with egg and sausage and had a sleep. Later we went out for a meal at the restaurant across from the hostel and had a feast of roasted pork, noodles, rice and about 8 types of dumpling. The ice cream ones were my favorite of course. We wondered about the poor guy on his first camping expedition sat in a tent thousands of feet up that mountain, shivered and made our way back to our nice warm beds.
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