Our second and third days were spent completely in Zhangjiajie National Park, about twenty minutes from our hostel. Saturday was gorgeous weather. It was cloudy but warm and mild. Perfect for hiking. We took a bus from the entrance of the park and got off at the head of a trail Victor told us about. The hike was beautiful. The forest was so green and lush- it brought me so many Washington flashbacks. It was amazing. We followed a creek and listened to birds chirp as we strolled along an easy path.
After walking for about half an hour we came across a big opening that had a few touristy things- picture stations, souvenirs, etc. We looked around for a while and all of the sudden a line of monkeys ran right through the middle of us all. Obviously we freaked out. A couple of the monkeys were carrying babies on their backs- so cute! We took a million pictures and then went on our way. In two minutes we caught up with the same group of monkeys just chilling on the side of the path. More photos and gawking until we finally decided to continue.
*Fun Fact* The mountains in Zhangjiajie are nicknamed the "Avatar Mountains" because the floating mountains in the movie "Avatar" (blue people not animated kids) were inspired by these mountains.
Look at him being a little baby! Look how cute he is! CUTE.
Around noon we hit a food station along the trail where I had the best pineapple I've ever eaten in my life. From there it was more walking/hiking until we came to a sort of fork in the road. Victor had told us about a cool hike up one of the mountains, but we could not find the path anywhere. We compared maps, asked dozens of strangers, and walked around for a good hour or two looking for this dang trail. We never found it. While searching for it though, we met some cool people, realized that the monkeys are actually vicious monsters, and got mobbed by a Chinese tour group who all wanted our picture.
Seriously, how beautiful is that?
(Sigh) It's tough being so popular...
The sun came out for just a few minutes for us!
Day 3: Sunday
Sunday was our day to hike all the way to the top of these mountains and see the views we had traveled all this way to see. We woke up Sunday morning to pouring rain. Like, soaked in 10 seconds pouring rain. But that wasn't going to stop us! We took the same bus up into the mountains, got off on a new stop, and hiked. And hiked. And hiked. Straight stairs for three hours. I am not exaggerating.
This was our path for three hours.
The mist was very thick most of the time, but I was able to get some shots when it cleared up for a few minutes here.
"Far over the misty mountains cold / To dungeons deep and caverns old"
I don't have any pictures from the very top of that hike because when we finally reached the top we could see...nothing. The fog was so thick it was impossible to see more than ten feet ahead. I should have snapped something just to prove my point, but after spending that much time on stairs I was a little too frustrated to dig my camera out of my backpack and battle the rain (did I mention it was raining the entire time?) to get a shot. From the top of the trail we took a bus to another spot to do some more sightseeing. Luckily the fog cleared up a bit by then and we were able to get some of the view we had been hoping for.
The only way down from the section of the park we were in was by a glass elevator. We weren't too happy about that since the ticket for the elevator was 80 yuan, but we assumed they would give us a student discount since a lot of other places had already. Unfortunately we were told the discount only applied to students actually studying in China, so after some pointless arguing with the poor lady running the ticket counter, we got our tickets. At least least we got to ride in a cool glass elevator and get this amazing view, right?
Eh. They crammed about twenty of us in this tiny elevator. This was the best view I could get and it was by holding my camera as high as possible over my head and taking this picture. So...yeah. But it was pretty.
The view from the bottom of the elevator was really cool though.
We were wet, tired, and sore, but the clouds had cleared up and these mountains were unbelievable. It is something I have never seen before and will never see again.
Day 4: Monday
We only had about half a day on Monday because we had to catch our train back to Guangzhou in the evening, so we decided to have a relaxing afternoon at Baofeng Lake. It was this super cute hidden lake close to our hostel that provided boat rides(!). And who turns down a boat ride, amarite?
The only people on the boat were us and a tour group from South Korea.
Halfway through the ride the Korean group started doing impromptu karaoke, which was basically the cutest thing ever.
(I apologize if this video is terrible- I took a chance by uploading it and hopefully it will work but as I've mentioned before my internet hates me.)
After the lake we reluctantly said goodbye to Victor, his parents, and Zhangjiajie. It had been our greatest vacation yet and it was a much-needed break from the city. But our vacations are tiring so we were also ready to head back to our hometown and get some real sleep. Most people were expecting to get that sleep on the train, but I knew better...