Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Heaven Gate Mountain

The Zhangjiajie National Park is where Avatar was filmed and has become an extremely popular tourist sight. I probably saw the most foreigners at my hostel during my trip.

I arrived at the bus station in Zhangjiajie around 6 and took a short taxi to my hostel. Since I decided to go to Fenghuang, I was a day late for my reservation so the hostel did not think I would be coming at all...which means my room was taken. But there was a spare bed in the male dormitory so I stayed with three Chinese guys. One (maybe 26 years old) really wanted to talk to me but the language barrier made it a little difficult--however another guy could speak English so he was a pretty funny experience. The guy asked me to dinner and then told me he didn't have a girlfriend--sorry buddy if we can't communicate I'm really not interested haha!

The first night i was exhausted from traveling and it was raining so i went to the easiest place i right down the street. The only place in town that had diet coke too. (don't judge me ha!)

I stayed at the Bajie Youth Hostel which was really nice and very helpful 

A 10 year old challenged me to fuzball one day

The weather was NOT fabulous for hiking. Most travelers (especially foreign tourists) come to Zhangjiajie in the Autumn or the Spring when the weather is cooler. 

After I got back from McDonalds a girl who worked at the hostel who spoke good English sat down with me to plan my trip around Zhangjiajie National Park. A park ticket (250 RMB which is about $40) is good for three days. The Bajie Youth Hostel has a second location in the park so you can stay there and see more of the park since its a 30 minute drive from the main part of town. 

I booked a night in the national park, but it wasn't available for the following night so I had to book for the following night. Which added an extra day to my trip. I immediately changed my reservations in Chengdu and booked a flight from Changsha to Chengdu and then paid for an extra night at Bajie. 

For my first day in Zhangjiajie since I couldn't get accommodation in the national park, I went to Tianmen Mountain or Heavenly Gate Mountain. 

The hostel got me a discount on the ticket and a shuttle (with other chinese people) at 8:30 in the morning. The ticket to Tianmen Mountain was 250 RMB ($40) 

The cable car ride up to the mountain is one of the longest cableways through mountains and is supposed to be unbelievably amazing

It was cool...just nothing as spectacular as everyone made it sound. 

The Tianmen Mountain is very culturally important to the Hunan province. It is the first place where history is recorded within the province and the formation of the Heavenly Gate Mountain Cave (the hole in the mountain) is considered to be a miracle--it is also a point of interest because the wingman daredevil flew through it.

Wooo made it to the top!

There was a part of the walkway that was glass--it was pretty dirty so i couldn't get any good pictures but we had to "rent" these funny shoes to keep it clean. 

Many chinese people were gripping the side rail or the mountain side terrified while on the glass part. a little too dangerous for them

the view--in the clouds!

If you look closely in the picture above you can see the walkway around the mountain--it was kind of cool to feel like we were scaling the mountain 

A Buddhist place of worship i think

This couple is getting blessings--when they were doing this an older man was screaming things. A tour guide whose group i kind of joined told me he was the dad of the girl and was screaming that she has a boy. 

A Buddhist temple

This area in Hunan used to be the center of Buddhism in China

Another cable car! 

The highest mountain in Zhangjiajie!

The Heavenly Gate Mountain Cave

1000 steps! The english speaking tour guide and her group of 6 other chinese people decided to race up which was a BAD idea the steps were so steep!

You can see this man in the picture literally pulling his wife up!

This is where winged men "fly" through the hole in the mountain. 

I made it to the top! These "professional" printed//laminated pictures were only $1.50 so I figured I needed a few.

The bus ride down

And the winding street down the mountain--the bus ride down takes a very long time but felt surprisingly safe for chinese driving!

It was a neat day but I was excited to go to the National Park the next day to see the Avatar Rocks! Pictures coming soon!

If you want to read more about Tianmen Mountain...

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