We climbed 2000 steps to the top of the mountain to get an “unbelievable view”. Well, all there was to see was fog and Chinese people taking selfies in the fog. Then it started to rain, but in a way it made me believe that the skies were mad at someone somewhere. My rain proof jacket was letting me down (and wet). We found shelter in a KFC at the end of the path, asked for hot chocolate and were served with hot milk. After several failed attempts to say/mimic chocolate in Chinese, we turned to our hot cups of milk and tried to sink our frustrations in it. Well, frustration is an understatement when you travel from the other side of the world to this remote park in China and you don’t get the slightest glimpse of the famous “Hallelujah mountains”, the inspiration for the floating peaks in the movie Avatar. It was 6pm, nearly time to make our way to the hostel.
When we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it actually got perfect!!!
The rain stopped. The crowds were hopping on to the last buses to go down the mountain. We figured we could walk to our hostel in 30 minutes (instead of taking the last bus) and most importantly the heavy fog dispersed. So we walked all the way back to the top of the 2000 steps, almost jogging with excitement to get to the viewing platforms.
When the soaring mountains broke through the clouds, I felt a river of joy moving in me! A mystic filter settled over the multiple protuberances that I could better describe as tower mountains standing on top of a deep vast forest! There were dozens of them, chunky, pointy, rounded, rawly shaped by the water that once filled the valley. Even the forest trees appeared to be climbing these grandiose pillars and some actually have a little oasis of trees on top. Unreachable by humans, perhaps nests of some birds, with only clouds playing between them.
So we stood there, feeling privileged like monarchs getting exclusive access to an attraction. Feeling thankful, for the skies weren’t mad, but were blessing us with an extraordinary view in it’s purest form, in silence.
The next morning, we were out of the hostel with the first rays of sunshine at 5h30am. After one and a half hours walking uphill, we reached the Tianbo Mansion platform to be greeted with a bed sheet made of clouds over the valley. We were up early but it was clear that the valley was having a long lie, owh beautiful thing.
So the day went on and just got better and better, with the sun in and clouds away, we hiked through the least famous paths, looking for more privileged views over different sides of the mountain. There are about 3000 pillars in the park and I couldn’t get enough. These 2 days spent in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park left me in awe, with a jaw dropped and a soul-fulfiilled.
When time came to leave, there were cable cars to get down the mountain, but we chose to walk… just a mere 8000 steps downwards, that we made in just over 1 hour. After this long journey, my legs had to learn to walk on flat ground again. In the end we got the bus to Wulingyuan village and from there we got another bus back to Zhangjiajie Town.
I must confess to you, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was the first reason that had drawn my attention to China. And people still ask me why visit China?! This was why.