Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
25Trip End Jul 24, 2010
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Where I stayed
Old Town Youth Hostel
We left off in Nanjing, having had an unforgettable stay and a great time with some local Chinese people. It was sad to leave, and we all exchanged emails and facebook details with our new friends. Although, we weren't sad to leave the rather suspect smelling room...
We had another lengthy train journey to Huangshan, although this was a mere 7 hours this time around. We had the cheapest ticket and soon found out why it was so cheap - rigid benches 3 people wide were all we had for the journey. It felt like a step back in time on that train - were it not for the pot noodle to keep us going we could have been travelling 50 years ago. The train ride went by quite quickly though and there was plenty of beautiful countryside to keep us occupied
We arrived into Huangshan at 9pm, and piled into taxis to get us to our next temporary home. The hostel was really nice here, and we had some pretty comfortable private rooms which was a real luxury after a smelly 8 bed dorm.
The following morning was a ludicrously early rise at 5:30am, and this was not helped by the 1am bed time the previous night. Nevertheless, we had our cooked breakfast and headed to the bus, bleary eyed but looking forward to seeing one of the main attractions in China. Two hours later we arrived at the foot of Mt. Huang Shan, which loomed ominously overhead. The trek promised to be a step up from our Taishan adventure, and it proved to be much, much more. We were working to a tight schedule as the last bus to the hostel left at 5pm so we had to get up and down the mountain in one day, and a delayed bus in the morning meant we could only start at 9am. Most people stay overnight on the top and don't do the whole thing in a day so the challenge set before us was no mean feat..
We trekked the first 7km up steep steps, which always seemed to go on
and on. We made good time though so things were looking hopeful and we were on track. We arrived at the top a little later, and were greeted with an astounding view. The morning mist had yet to be burnt away, so there we were above a sea of mist with ominous mountain peaks jutting out from the wispy depths below. Descriptions can't really do it justice though, and even with our photos we struggled to capture the beauty before us.
We spent a while trekking from peak to peak along the top ridge of the mountain, and we couldn't afford to stop and stare too long as we wanted to see as much as possible in the time we had. Every turn we made gave us another beautiful view, and the trail took us near some sheer rock faces to the ground below. Some of the peaks we scaled were Flying Over Rock, Bright Summit, West Sea Canyon, and many more. The West Sea Canyon was probably the best as it was a little further out so there were less tourists and more peaceful views. Our whistle stop tour was all going to plan, however things soon took a turn. After taking in as much scenery as we had time for, we started the long descent down
Having half walked, half run, back to where we went wrong, we still had 3km to get to the cable car. We didn't want to take the cable car as it cost quite a bit, but thankfully it was there and we saw this as our insurance policy to get us down in time for the last bus. We half-jogged down hundreds more steps to get there in time, but arrived to a depressing sight. Having been elated to see the cable car, we arrived, very hot and very tired, to see a queue stretching down the mountain. We worked out that it would take too long to wait, then get the cable car down, so we had an hour and a half to get down 7km of steep steps. Jon was most unimpressed with this little prospect, and he wondered why on earth he had joined us in China for such a workout! Somehow, we made it to the bottom safely having literally run down the mountain, just in time for the last bus. Despite it being such hard work, it was a massive achievement and the views made it well worth the effort
This morning we took a coach to Hangzhou, having just made it in time with Dan sprinting back into the hostel to retrieve his forgotten phone. Things were looking up as we made it onto the coach. The coach was pretty much full, with only 5 seats left, so we all distributed ourselves throughout. Unfortunately, this is where Tim started his nightmare journey. As he took his seat, he noticed 2 things: the sweat on the brow of the woman next to him, and the suspicious looking bag of water by her side. It wasn't long before she continued to fill up the plastic bag with her own vomit. And it didn't stop. It is difficult to describe the noise which accompanied the whole ordeal for the next 2 1/2 hours, needless to say Tim's iPod was turned up fully and this only partially muffled the sound.
We eventually arrived in Hangzhou (Tim has never been so happy...) and first impressions are good, good, good! There is a lot to do here with some lovely countryside, lakes, cycling routes, and an old hutong (bustling backstreets, pronounced Hoo-Tong Ursula!) with loads of local delicacies to try including Dragon Whisker Sweets, Chinese Burritos, Dingsheng Cake and much more
We have 2 nights here before hopefully heading to Suzhou, then to our final destination - Shanghai! It's going to go so quickly.
Jon (It's a silent J)