So at this business trip to China, my main list of things to see in China was done, but I had a friend who visited Zhangjiajie a while back and it looked stunning.
So I made this airport a transfer point on this trip.
For you who do not know; Zhangjiajie was the place they filmed/got inspiration for the floating mountains in Avatar.
My flight landed in Zhangjiajie, but since most things I wanted to see was in the nearby town of Wulingyuan I stayed there (at the Pullman). I took a taxi between the towns which took about 1-1,5 hours.
The morning after (which happened to be a Friday), I went early to the entrance of the park. I have heard about the long queues so I got the before it opened (before 7 am).
I was not there during peak season, but I took no chances.
Already outside the entrance, I could see fog and clouds all around me, but hoped it would get better higher up.
I took the bus to the Bailong Elevator, which is the world's tallest lift at a staggering 326 m.
The view from below the elevator was still not good, but I still held on to the hope of it being better the higher I get.
Due to the almost-off-peak-season and the bad weather, there were zero queues to the elevator and I was elevated 300-ish meter higher very quick, went out to see the stunning view... and was met by this:
You could hardly see 5 meters in front of you!
The disappointment was MASSIVE!!
And not only was it clouds, it was also a light rain.
I was not alone on the mountain, but there were not much people. So I could wander around the scenic routes fairly quickly.
One positive thing I can say about the clouds, I had no problem leaning over the frail-wood-looking railings to look down since I only saw a few meter below me.
In reality it was a loooong way down, but since I could not see it, it did not bother me.
Even the Avatar-bird-thing you could sit on and get your photos taken was empty (I imagine there is a long queue to this during peak season).
At the end of one route, I got to something called The First Bridge. During thousands of years the mountain had crumbled in a way that the only part now connected was a small ledge at the top of the mountain creating a natural bridge overhanging a drop of hundreds of meters.
This I could make out through the cloud and it looked eerie and cool:
I walked over it and walked around the small mountaintop on the other side. Still only clouds to be seen though. :(
After this disappointing trip, I was not sure what to do. There was a canyon below that had a boardwalk trail you could walk called Golden Whip Stream.
There were also other things to do at other parts of Zhangjiajie/Wulingyuan.
But since the signs were mostly in Chinese, I had no clue where to go to do either. The people here could not speak English so I was pretty lost when it came to directions.
So I just got on the first bus arriving to see where it would take me.
It took me back to the Bailong Elevator so I used it to get down again.
On my way back to the entrance, I had my plans for the rest of the day clear.
Since the clouds ruined all chances of good views of the landscape, I went to the Huanglong Cave (aka Yellow Dragon Cave). The weather doesn't really matter if you're in a cave, right?! :)
After a 20-30-minutes-ish taxi trip, I paid the entrance fee to the cave and went in.
Inside the cave, they had lit the stalactites and stalagmites with lights in different colours. It annoyed me a little at first (too much stylised effects), but after I while I just went along with it.
It was a pretty cool cave, I had to admit.
The cave was very exploited with walkways and stairs to take you further in.
No rock climbing here, nope!
And it was gigantic! The main cave was really big!
By far the biggest cave I have ever been into.
Inside there was also a nice looking bridge that took you over one of the rivers in the cave. For reference it was 3 meters wide and 22 meters long. And the distance to the water below was 17 meters.
Further in the cave, I was met by a surprise; they had built a small harbour where an (electric) boat took you to the next part of the cave.
This boat trip was also very cool. Floating on the river looking at this fascinating cave.
The boat stopped not far from the exit of the cave.
What to do next?
Well, since I was halfway there, I continued in another taxi to the Glass Bridge.
This bridge is the largest bridge with a (mostly) glass floor.
The lady in the ticket booth sold me two tickets when I only wanted one, but there was no easy way to complain (since she did not speak English). I was also too tired and the queue behind me too long to bother arguing for more than a minute about it.
I did not understand what the other ticker was for, but held on for it. You never know.
From a distance the bridge looked cool, but I knew I was not going to like the glass parts.
And I was correct.
OMG, this is HORRIBLE!!!
In my engineering mind, I know it was safe, but I could not convince the rest of my body.
I did walk (or "stupid looking skipping" to be honest) over a small part, then larger bits of glass until I made it over a whole plate of glass.
But I did it scared as hell.
But this illusion of danger did not bother most Chinese. They did a lot of sitting, laying or jumping on the glass, making cool photos.
This was not for me.
But the view from here was nice though. Not much clouds at all.
After walking (carefully) across the bridge, we came to another entrance where they checked for tickets to let people down to the valley.
So this was apparently what the other ticket was used for!
And since I had the ticket, I figured I might as well use it. :)
We climbed down some steep stairs inside the mountain and then on wooden ledges and stairs attached to the mountain side.
At the bottom of the valley, the boardwalk trail started.
We followed a stream and all you had to do was just enjoy the beauty of nature!
(and ignore the exploitation of this valley - and the trees with big spider webs)
After quite a bit of walking the stream ended in a lake.
There was a harbour here where boats took us the last stretch over the lake to the bus station where the bus to the glass bridge started from).
Once there, I took a taxi back to my hotel after an exhausting, but fun day.