Monday, November 2, 2015

YuanJiaJie and TianZiShan

It was a beautiful day on Sunday, October 18th, as Bob's team set out to tour the sandstone peaks of the Yuanjiajie portion of Zhangjiajie National Park in China.  If the painfully pushy crowds and typical China smog had dissipated, it would have been a perfect sight-seeing day!  Our time was spent waiting in lines, riding buses from site to site where we fought for an edge on the crowded viewing platforms, and then relishing the stunning creations.  From the bus, I caught my first view of the Bailong Elevator where we would start our adventure.

The double-decker glass elevator - the highest and heaviest in the world - runs along a cliff face which takes about two minutes to climb to the top.  With about 50 people on-board, it stretches 1,070 feet in height. The elevator has a daily capacity of 18,000 people - all of whom I'm sure were there the day we visited!  The views around this area were magnificent!

From the top of the elevator, we walked a short distance to a viewing platform and saw this:

From there, we walked around to see several views of the recently named “Hallelujah Mountain,” (previously known as "Pillar between heaven and earth"), a floating island in the movie "Avatar".  It stands at a height of 3,500 feet above sea level - a height which was really hard to capture on film.

Next we came to the boy and girlfriend pillars, and the "turtle rock" area - complete with a touristy small live turtle display.

The highest natural bridge in the world was our next viewpoint, followed by a trail covered in love locks and red ribbons donated by tourists from around the world.

 And then, more spectacular views!  If only you could really see just how high we were from the ground!

Along the trail vendors were selling souvenirs from the Chinese Tujia minority tribe which are concentrated in this area.  We stopped for lunch near one of the bus stops and some of our group had their names artfully painted onto scenic prints to take home as gifts.

The lines for the buses reminded me of Disneyland!  It was amazing to think that people live and actually farm atop these mountains.  The treacherous ride to the Tianzi pillars had us stopping at a statue of a Chinese General for whom these intricately carved sandstone peaks were named.  From my experience, Bryce Canyon in Utah is the only scenery that comes remotely close to resembling this.


There were so many beautiful formations.  And along the trails we saw gateways to the valley and crevices in the cliffs filled with the "wish sticks" left by people following the tradition of the minority tribes.


Perched high in these mountain peaks was perhaps one of the largest McDonald's (it was twice as big as the photo!) we've ever seen, where we stopped for an afternoon ice cream treat.    We tested our agility by hopping along a stepping stone strewn path.

With a little imagination, silhouettes of faces could be seen carved from the pillars.  And a group of "paintbrushes" jut up from the masterpiece they seem to have created.  Our cute tour guide, Candy, was a treat to spend time with on this trip.


Our final stop was a pagoda from which we could enjoy a last look at the Tianzi mountains.  But first we had to pass by the souvenir shops, which were selling dried salamander meat and dips!

Look at how artistically they disposed of their waste.  A few monkeys seemed to bid us farewell as we boarded the bus. With visions of Tianzi playing in our minds, we returned to Wulingyuan, .

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