The next part of our China adventure was set to take place in Huangshan, also known as yellow mountains. “I can’t believe we’re on top of a mountain in China” is a statement that defines this next part of the trip pretty well.
We boarded a train late at night from Shanghai and I woke up with an “ANNIKA, we need to show the guy our ticket” 11 hours later. With a little help from sleeping pills I had managed to sleep 11 hours straight on my first ever overnight train, and I had slept wonderfully.
Thirty minutes later, at around 7 am, we had made it to Huangshan and got off the train. We were both expecting it to be a pretty small town, but exiting the train station it quickly became clear to us that this was the city of at least a million people (we later looked it up on Wikipedia stating 1.4 mio. as the population). China still hasn’t seized to amaze me with its greatness. Fun fact: there’s more than 250 cities in China with more than 1 million citizens. That’s more than 250 cities in China that are bigger than Copenhagen.
Our first challenge of the day was finding a bathroom, as we had been stupid enough to exit the station without peeing (in China you need a valid departure ticket to enter the train stations).
We walked around for a bit, but no bathrooms were near. We ended up spotting a hotel, and figured we could ask to borrow the bathroom in there. The guy managing the desk was a sleep, but as we were desperate we snuck around him. We passed a man in an office on the phone, but luckily he didn’t spot us and we found the bathroom. Quite the crime riders, but when you have to go you have to go.
We made it back to the train station to find our bus. We didn’t really know what to look for, and the lost look on our faces was spotted by way too many incredible eager chinese people, all trying to make us choose their bus. The chinese can seem very intense in situations like these, and we ended up in a bus with a lady that was basically screaming at us, but luckily it was the right one.
Quick breakfast at the trainstation
The bus took us to a new town where we had to catch our second bus. We figured all of this out through the bible (Lonely Planet guide book), but it wasn’t exactly precise, so once again we were left a bit confused.
We ended up getting a ticket for something that we weren’t quite sure what was, but luckily it ended up being for the bus we were supposed to catch. I’ve never been more challenged than when traveling through China. It can be incredibly stressful not to understand any signs or any of the people surrounding you, but it somehow always worked out.
We finally made it to the bottom of Huangshan Shi and could begin our hike.
The “hike” was filled with stairs. Actually it was basically all stairs. The first thing about the hike that blew my mind were the chinese men carrying up groceries for the hotels and stores on the top. We read that they do one walk up a day. Their bodies must be dying slowly, and seeing them go through that made happy about paying a whole lot more for all the goods we purchased on top of the mountain.
When we were walking up the fog was so dense that we didn’t to catch any of the views, this made us a bit disheartened, but it was still incredibly beautiful.
Despite the extra long walk we ended up finding our hotel. We had originally booked bunkbeds in a dorm room, but we were so tired from walking and decided that since there wasn’t a view to be seen, we might as well take a good long nap.
And so we upgraded our dormroom to one with two queen beds, and it was the best decision ever. We had cup noodles for lunch and had a good loooong nap before we headed to dinner.
After a good nights sleep, we woke up around 10:30, half an hour after breakfast had ended. We had once again managed to sleep through our alarms, which basically makes us pros by now.
We had woken up at 5:30 to check on the sunrise conditions, but could, after opening the shades, quickly conclude that there would be no beautiful sunrise over Huangshan for us on this otherwise fine morning.
A bit disheartened about the whole weather situation, you know being on top of one of the most beautiful mountains in the world and not being able to see a darn thing, we started gathering our stuff to head down and start the 15 kilometer hike of the day to get down the mountain.
We headed out our hotel room and had a near heart attack when we to our big surprise could see more than just 10 meters ahead. All of sudden out of nowhere we could see the famous cable car, the incredibly unique yellow mountains and the sea of clouds below us. We couldn’t contain our excitement and were jumping up and down, hugging each other in pure happiness and extreme appreciation that we’d actually get to experience Huangshan the way it was meant to be seen.
After running around the top of the mountain surrounding our hotel, trying to see all of the different pads that lead to views such as the Bear Paw and the Monkey Gazing Over the Sea we started our journey of the Western hike down the side of the mountain.
The next hours offered us both up and down hill stairs and ended up in what felt like a marathon (actually two) of constantly walking down stairs for an hour and a half. My legs and knees have never before been in such pain.
We ended the day taking our two buses back to Huangshan Shi (this time without a single second of confusion over where to go or what bus to catch) were we found a street kitchen belonging to a cute little family. There were quite a few places to chose from, but we really couldn’t tell them apart, so this one ended up winning us over because the daught in the family came up to us in the street with the menu.
We enjoyed an incredible 28 ¥ dinner and headed to the train station, where we boarded our night train for Nanjing. Part 3 of our China trip coming up.