When I last left you, Danny and I had reached the top of Huangshan. Climbing Huangshan had already been an amazing adventure so far, but it was high time for a bit of rest and relaxation.
But first, we had to find our hotel. The scenic area at the top of the mountain is very large and we winded our way up some more pathways and stairs to get there. If you don’t like stairs, then you’d be in for a bit of a shock here – there are paved stairs from the very bottom to the very top of the mountain. No joke, there is not a dirt track in sight. It really is some impressive infrastructure to see on a mountain and I can’t even imagine the nightmare it must have been to build!
Forget the Great Wall of China – these were the Great Stairs of China!
You would think that accommodation options are scarce and limited at the mountain peak, but you would be oh-so-very wrong about that. I don’t know about you, but staying in a luxury 4.5 star hotel room sounds like a brilliant idea to me after a long day of hiking up a mountain. Especially when that hotel only cost us 400 CNY (US$70) per room per night.
Welcome to the Xihai Hotel !
By the time Danny took this picture, I had already collapsed into the fluffy white bed, so forgive me that the sheets are a little crumpled …
The coolest feature was in the bathroom. It was absolutely huge and there was a giant glass screen facing the bedroom that you could make frosted or transparent at the flick of a light switch. Fancy or what?!
We didn’t think this could get any better. But we somehow managed to do it by ordering room service (a big Chinese banquet with steamed fish and vegetables!). Needless to say, we fell asleep easily and very happily that night.
The next morning, we woke up early to see the sun rise. Apparently, it’s a must-do up here … but the trouble was that there was fog everywhere!
Disappointed with the view (or lack thereof), we retreated back to our room and fell back asleep until about 10 minutes before check out time.
It was a late start to the day but on the bright side, the fog had cleared and we spent the rest of the day climbing down the mountain in sunshine and blue skies.
Yesterday, we had seen a different kind of Huangshan – a mysterious mountain floating high above a cold misty fog. Today, we saw Huangshan in a completely different light – the mountain was flooded in sunlight and glowing in the crisp fresh air. We got the best of both worlds, without the swarms of tourists that are usually there in the warmer weather.
From the scenic area, you can climb up about a dozen or so peaks. We climbed up all of them – I must admit I got a bit tired and had to do some serious stretching!
Although these guys really put me to shame – every day they carry goods and supplies up to the hotels by paths that can only be accessed by foot.
For lunch, we ducked into a little local home where the owners shared with us some hot noodle soup.
I had to do a double take of that hanging dried meat in the background.
Not the best view to look at while eating, but the noodles were nonetheless scrumptious and good sustenance for the road.
My one big tip for Huangshan is to check the operating times for the cable cars coming back down the mountain. In the colder months, they stop running earlier than usual. Something I wish we had known before we arrived at the cable car station thinking that we were finished for the day, only to find it had closed already.
And so, we had to rush down the mountain within three hours before nightfall.
Danny thought of this as one big exciting adventure to climb down the mountain in moonlight.
I, on the other hand, was not so happy about the situation.
Luckily, there was a full moon that lit up the sky and we made it down the mountain base without any problems (other than legs throbbing in pain the day afterwards). I would love to say that Danny and I learnt our lesson from this experience, but two years later, I can confirm this was not the last time we went trekking down a mountain at nightfall together.
I’m sure there must be a Chinese proverb about this – you don’t really know a person until you get stuck in a mountain with them!