terça-feira, 16 de outubro de 2012

Adventure in the Yellow Moutain: Huangshan


Huangshan, also known as the Yellow Mountain, it's a massive granite group of mountains with 36 peaks reaching more than 1,800 m high. To look at this kind of mountain and its green remembers you about classic Chinese paintings.

Picture about Huangshan
Taking the train in Shanghai

Since I had already bought my train tickets I went directly to Shanghai's train station. Then, I discovered that I hadn't bought a sleeper seat but a hard seat - the cheapest. I was taking a overnight train and that gave me a pretty clear message: a bad slept night. In the hard seat area the lights are never turned off, the A/C is pretty strong, people come and leave at every stop, the seats are small and there's no way to recline it or to anywhere to lay your head. By the other hand, I think it's the finest way to get close to Chinese people. Fortunately, in the middle of the night the train got quite empty and I could take the whole seat row for me.

Arriving in the city of Huangshan

There's an important thing: there's the mountain of Huangshan and the city of Huangshan. When you get to the city of Huangshan that doesn't mean anything because the mountain sits 1 hour away in the surroudings of the city of Tangkou. As you leave the train there'll be some vans and buses to take you there (16 RMB). And, if you're lucky, you'll find some other foreigners who can speak English to you and get yourself in a group. I ended up with two Italians, Giulia and Andrei, who planned to hike the moutain in the same pace I had planned and so we went together from there on. It's worth to buy the mountain map for 7 RMB written in Chinese and English. In the moutain itself the maps sold are available only in Chinese.

Getting to the Huangshan mountain

We took the bus to Tangkou and went to find somewhere to leave our heavy luggage. We bought water, food and had a meal before taking the stairs up. Around 2 pm we went to the moutain. For that we needed to pay 21 RMB for a bus service to the start of the trail and, when we got there more 230 RMB for entrance tickets (the price changes according to the season and student ID cards are accepted for a 50% discount).

Paths and trails

There are two ways to up/down the moutain. You can make use of cablecars, which is the usual solution for elder and tired people, or, you can do it on foot.

Map of the trails in Huangshan
It's possible to go up/down through the Eastern or Western steps. A classic route - the onde I did - is to go up through the Eastern steps and down through the Western steps in the next day. It's done this way because the Estern steps are hard and take 3-4 hours to finish, but, it's feasible, the Western steps are much more difficult and can take up to 6-8 hours to be completed. Thus, it's better to go down that way. Once you got to the top there will be a lot of slopes and stairs that will make everything harder.

Hiking through the Eastern steps

We started our hiking under rain and fog. I felt like the moutain was endless and we would never stop hiking. Every group of stairs was followed by another group, then, another group... This route is also used by men who carry everything, from sheets to the hotels and laundry stuff to bottles of water and food and even other people who don't want / can't hike the way for themselves.

The Italians were still carrying a lot of stuff to camp on the top, which obviously demanded more energy from them. And, Giulia, addicted to photography, was carrying 2 DSLR cameras and 3 lenses. Not a surprise that they later, at the top, gave up of walking down the moutain and decided to take the cablecar. Anyway, so far, the promisse of spectacular scenery was pushing us up.

At times we got a little bit frustrated. Everywhere you looked the lonly thing to be seen was the grey colour of the fog. Sometimes a tiny piece of the moutain was revealed but would be gone away in less than 10 mintues.


After 3 hours of hiking, we finally got the top. The problem was that there's no single top but lots of tops and we would have to walk a lot from that point. 

Begin to Believe Peak

This peak was named this way because of its impressive views so people would still find difficult to believe that they got there. For us, there was no big deal because we couldn't see anything from there.

But then..
Picture of Huangshan in the Begin To Believe Peak
From now I'll warn you. The pictures cannot tell not even 50% of the impact of seeing that with your own eyes. It's simply magic! The clouds disapeared and suddenly there were many moutains and peaks in front of us. We got super excited and ran to take pictures. As the wind changed moutains came up and disapeared and even cloudly as it was it was phantastic. However, we didn't know that the best views would be revealed only in the nest day...

Picture of Huangshan, vale next to Beihai hotel
At night

So you can better enjoy the mountain, take rest and still watch the sunrise, the best option is to sleep in the top. The cheapest option is tro bring your own tent and camp in from if Beihai Hotel for 30 RMB. However, if you want to rent their tent that would cost 200 RMB. If you want to sleep in the 5-people dorm the price is 280 RMB - that's what I've did. And, finally, if you want normal rooms with everything a 4-star hotel has to offer the range is from 1000 to 2000 RMB or more. Thus, everything's extremely expensive. Since taking your own tent requires a lot of energy - as per my Italian friends experience - I think the best choice would be to sleep in the tent or the dorm. The dorm should be booked way in advancebecause it's quite difficult to get it.

The Italians and me
Me and the Italians wanted to have dinner but it was difficult to find something cheap. To give an idea, the mini markets there are prohibited by the hotels to sell instant noodles. However, one of the owners of the mini market asked us if we wanted to buy it as long as we didn't tell that to anyone. We accepted his proposal and we paid 15 RMB for each. I stayed with the Italians in their tent until it got late and then I went to my hotel dorm room.


One of the greatest natural attractions in Huangshan was to watch the sunrise. And, according to weather forecast we had 70% of chance to have a regular sunrise. One of the best peaks to watch it is the Lion Peak.

Lion Peak

I don't know why this peak has this name. I have no idea. But, we woke up at 4 am, I helped the Italians to pack their tent and we moved to this peak. I mean, not just us but a pack of tourists, foreigners and Chinese. When we arrived there was some competition for the best places.

There are some things about Huangshan, one are the curious rocks - for example, in this picture you can see the monkey in the left side. And, as you can see in the back, there's a sea of clouds. So, this view is know as The Monkeu watching the sea of clouds.

View of The Monkey watching the sea of clouds

Then I had my 5 minutes of panic. I had left my camera inside my bag, but I didn't properly close it and when I was trying to climb a rock to have a better viw I heard the noise of something big hitting the ground. When I was about to check what it was someone delivered my camera. I got desperate! But, for close, nothing happened - the camera had fell over a tiny dirty ground area in the middle of the rocks - only my UV filter was broken!

We watched the sunrise, which for me had a special meaning because it was my 24th birthday, yea, celebrated on my own in the moutain. And, for the open skies with just a few clouds, I could see I would get a wonderful gift, a unique sunny day in a week in the middle of the rainy season.

Before we could move on however, our friend Giulia had some stomach ache problems and that started to point that me and my friends would have to separate later that day.

On the way to the Flying Rock

As we walked to the Flying Rock - one of the most impressive rocks in Huangshan - we had amazing views. Like this:

View from the vale on the way to the Flying Rock
My Italian friends were having more difficult to walk, but still they were trying hard to make it. Giulia however started to have nausea and more intensive stomach ache so she could not follow me and Andrei to the rock.

The Flying Rock

After a very intensive ladder of stairs, with some stops to breath, and, getting very tired, we made it to the Flying Rock. By the picture the name became quite obvious. A piece of rock in an arrow shape in the edge of a cliff.

View from the Flying Rock
The views from there were simply spectacular. All the area know as West Canyon, full of peaks, walls, cliffs and green mixed. One of the most beautiful and different places I ever seen!

Views from the West Canyon from the Flying Rock
From there we could see trails and paths that were built in the cliffs. These paths were almost all supended, a construction masterpiece. Imagine how was to built it?

Paths in the cliffs of the West Canyon
After our visit to the Flying Rock, we went immediately to the other side, in truth, we took all the way back - the endless stairs. We took the trail that goes all the way down to the cliff and energy would never be so important like now. More and more tourists were getting to the moutain and the paths started to get crowded.

Start of the West Canyon

The West Canyon is a new trail in Huangshan that starts behind Xihai Hotel. The scenery is spectactular and maybe the best scenery from the whole moutain. Since the trail is pretty intensive - stairs almost all the time - the big tour groups don't rick to go there, so it's easier to enjoy the nature.

Impresses me the fact that the Chinese moutains are so unknown internationaly. A few people mentioned Huangshan on their trip plans. I agree that's not the easiest place to go, however, is not that hard either, it's just 6-12 h from Shanghai (bus x train) and it's served by airports and nice highways.

Going down in the West Canyon

The scenery is wonderful. A sunny day was perfect to give the vivid colors to Huangshan. A real birthday gift for sure!

Path to reach the
bottom of the West Canyon
As we went down to the bottom of the Canyon we saw images of carved rocks, pines na other trees that made unusual combinations. Now, we were walking through the impressive paths we had seen from the Flying Rock. The number of tourists in this area is much reduced compared to other parts of the mountain but sometimes some Chinese came along to take pictures with us.

After walking down almost all the West Canyon we found Robert, a Dutch guy who was following the same path we were. Some conversation and soon we found that our map was not updated and the track connection we thought we'd find in the bottom of the Canyon was closed. In other words, all we went down now we'd have to go up AND, go all the way back to the Flying Rock again so we could continue our way. Well, we faced all the climbing again and, when we reached the top, my Italian friends gave up and went to rest. They would take the cablecar to go down - even though the way to reach the cablecar it was not easy

Finding the way out of the moutain

A huge amount of people, heat, tired, and messy maps turned our task of finding our way down a real challenge. We got stuck in the traffic between trails. In fact, the flow of visitors is so massive that there are fences to create direction orders.

West cliff of Huangshan
If you could not see in the picture the little "ands" walking in the path the picture below makes it a bit clearer. That caused me some panic because I had to be back to Huangshan's train station at 6 pm to get my night train to Fuzhou-Xiamen. And, then we were spending almost 1 hour to walk some very short distances.

"Traffic" in the trail
Here we could understand why the entrance tickets are getting so expensive. It's not a simple question of making money but to put visitor flow under the park capacity. New price rises will be inevitable or even the creation of maximum quota of visitors per day.

Here one of the most impressive pictures I saw in Huangshan. A group of tourists in a tiny trail - which however are not dangerous - and a huge mountain of rocks and green in the back.

One of the most impressive views in Huangshan
From there we started to go down - or, to be more specific, to find our way down. You need to get to the cablecar area, and, instead of going down, keep going straight walking through the Welcome Pine  - nothing but a big and famous pine - and then keep going up and down until finally the stairs will show up at your right.

I went down with Robert talking about moutains, culture, the Netherlands, Brazil, and enjoying the views.
Views from the West side of the moutain
Every 30 min we stopped to have rest and drink some water. Then, gradually the prices of everything started go down too and we found lots of stalls selling medals for those who completed the circuit. Many tourists were buying the medals even if they didn't go up or down on foot.

Well, I was really really tired, maybe the most tiring day in the whole trip. But, well, it was worth it. I was happy that I won that intensive and worthy challenge in my birthday. It was a real gift and I was glad that I had the chance to do it. I hope that the next years can offer so great experiences like the time between my birthdays in 2011 and 2012. Oh, and so I would not forget I bought a medal to "prize" myself for the achievement.

Last unforgetable view of Huangshan
Next post will be the last about China, last stop in Guolangya and Yongding around the city of Xiamen.

Um comentário:

  1. We are travelling to Huangshan mountain in September (there are 5 of us), we'd like to sleep at the top, could you please tell us how to contact Beihai hotel, in order to book a tent or a dorm?
    Thank you!


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