So, up the mountains. This started with a nice bus ride followed by a transfer to an (Eco?)bus. The park is a UN heritage site and international geothermal park. Riding up the mountain with the usual corkscrew turnings surrounded by giant bamboo. The obligatory tour guide had told us we were really lucky as it had snowed heavily the day before. The bamboo were at least 5 metres tall and looked like enormous ostrich feathers bent down under the weight of the snow. I bet things get interesting when the thaw starts and was wondering whether this was the inspiration for the Roman trebuchet.
Up we go to the cable cars. It is possible to walk up but it takes about 5 hours and would be treacherous on the ice. As it was, the cable car ride beats Alton Towers. “Don’t look down” as we rode over vertiginous gullies and canyons of indescribable beauty. We looked down – you can’t help it. Have tried with the photos but this is one place you have to see. “Do you know, when I see those Chinese paintings of the mountains I thought it was their imagination. But it’s not- that is what they look like for real.” The paintings do more justice than the photos.
That’s one thing that never stops when travelling, how close things you think are imaginary are to the real thing. I read Coelho’s “The Alchemist” recently and it recalled our trips to the Sahara in vivid detail, with the sea shells in the desert and the head wrapping against the heat and the dust – even the size of the oases. I was thinking of this in the cable car, looking down at the same boots I wore in the desert.
Anyway, back to the snowy wonderland. From the cable car it’s into the real climbing. New when we went to Snow Mountain in Tibet you go up the cable car and then you walk around the high altitude meadows on a special path to preserve the ecosystems. At Huangshan you go up in a cable car and then you walk up a granite path to your hotel. “Path” translates as an endless stairway to heaven. There are stops (eagle nests hanging out over the side of the mountain) along the way to take photos – everywhere covered with ice and vertigo competing with the inner photographer. It’s all right until you close your eye to look thorough the viewfinder – you can only take your gloves off for a few minutes before the shakes destroy the photos anyway.
At last we reached the hotel, only to find ours was a bit further up. Three hours later, we arrived. This was supposed to be the sightseeing part, not the training part. Anyway, the cable car we are taking tomorrow is much nearer the hotel.
And so to dinner – have you spotted the flaw in the day yet? Somehow we didn’t have lunch! Now that’s definitely a first.