Last week, during the May holiday, the InternChina Zhuhai office, the Zhuhai interns and some of our friends, made a trip to the city of Zhangjiajie, in Hunan province. The main purpose of the trip was to visit the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, recognized as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. This park is famous for its pillar-like mountains, which are the result of many years of erosion. This unique landscape was the inspiration for the floating “Hallelujah Mountains” seen in the movie Avatar.
We decided to take a coach bus to Zhangjiajie to make it affordable to everyone, so it took us 16 hours to get there. It might seem like a very long time to sit inside a bus, but actually it’s part of the adventure! We left on Sunday night and arrived Monday morning, ready to start exploring. We went inside the park and walked from one end to another, in between the mountains. It was foggy and rainy, so we all had to buy ponchos and umbrellas to stay dry. Most of the ponchos were blue, which actually went great with the Avatar theme.
Inside the park you really felt like you were in a jungle. Trees, bushes, creeks, hills, everything green and untouched by man except for the narrow stone pathway and wooden bridges. When you looked up you could see the mountains rising up into the sky but you couldn’t actually see the tops because of the fog. It was almost like they went all the way into the clouds!
One of the best parts of the park was seeing all the monkeys. They were very friendly and loved all the attention, it even seemed as if they were posing for the cameras. I’d seen monkeys before, but never so near that I could take close-up photos without having to zoom-in.
After leaving the park we were all wet and tired so we were taken to our hotel. We changed clothes, went donwstairs for dinner and then hung around for a couple more hours drinking beer, eating street barbecue and chatting.
The next day it was time to climb the mountain, so we got up at 6 am, went for breakfast and headed back into the park. We had 2 options: either climb the mountain on foot and ride back down on the elevator, or viceversa. Some of the girls decided to go up in the elevator but the bigger part of the group (including me) chose the braver option and set right off into the mountain.
The first part of the journey was a not-so-unpleasant walk up a stone pathway. But then we arrived at the steps. The guide told us it was 6000 steps to the top – at that moment I didn’t know if it was a lot or not. But it didn’t take long for me to realize what I had gotten myself into. After the first 200-ish steps, I was out of breath, sweating and ready to give up. Some of our group (especially the girls, how embarrasing!) were also in the same situation, but seeing the others keep on going made me “man up” and keep on climbing.
I have to admit: it was not an easy climb. But then we turned around, looked at the unbelievable views, and told each other how it was all worth it. And it definitely was. After a few hours, lots of panting and cursing the steps, we finally made it to the top. It was an amazing moment, not only because we felt literally on top of the world, but because we had taken on this challenge and rose up to it.
After catching our breaths and the hard-earned photo session, it was time to take the elevator back down. It would take a little bit more walking, a lunch stop at the McDonald’s on the top and a few more bus rides (it’s a huge mountain!), before we arrived at the Bailong Elevator – or “Hundred Dragons Elevator” – said to be the highest outdoor elevator in the world. Just a few minutes ride and just like that, we were back at the bottom of the mountain. Time to do it all over again? Maybe in a couple of years…