Wednesday Wanderlust: ZhangJiaJie [Part 1]
Every Wednesday I will be taking you somewhere I've been in the past year. I set myself this huge challenge of doing 18 countries in 18 months. So far so good, sitting at No 13 right now. Having lived in China for nearly four years, I must admit I haven't seen much of it, & I feel terribly guilty about it. Not that I didn't want to, I just had this desire to escape Shanghai & China when I had the chance to do so, & see more of the rest of Asia.
This adventure to ZhangJiaJie or "Avatar Mountains" in Hunan Province,China, began with me taking a Friday off & having an extended weekend. Took a late flight on a Thursday night to Zhangjiajie, 2 hours from Shanghai. Arrived pretty late, but was happy to have booked a ride to our AirBnB (YangJiaJie Mini Inn), over an hour away from the airport. It was pitch black & really dusty, & honestly didn't have any sense of direction of where the driver was taking us. After, just over an hour's bumpy ride, we arrived at our destination, checked in & went straight to bed after committing to turn our phones off from the social media for the whole stay. We desperately needed this break, without being glued to our phones.
Next morning, my friend & I woke up to cockerels doing their 5am morning ritual of waking everyone up. It was cold, but it was beautiful to watch the sun rise up behind the mountains. After, having traditional Chinese breakfast we set off to see the "Avatar" mountains. Leaving our "wooden cabin" pretty early, we bought our tickets at YangJiaJie Entrance. It took us a while to figure out how the park worked. So, basically, there are buses running from different points across the park. Get the map of the site, or ask your guesthouse/hotel for things to see or the route to take. Our host was really helpful & at least we had a start & then we created our own route. We took the bus to the cable cars & around the whole national park. You can walk up the mountain but it's a bit of a trek, I'd recommend getting a return ticket.
We walked a lot on our first day and it was pretty busy in all the popular areas & were desperate to find some quiet unbeaten paths & we did. We walked for about 40 minutes one way to see the "Field in the Sky" or see if you can catch a ride, as the buses don't go here. It was worth the view, so if you have time, do it!
However, the biggest tip that I'd recommend to do is: watch your time! This is something we weren't aware of. We stayed to watch the sunset which was around 5pm, but the cable cars stopped running at 5pm and the buses at 6/6.30pm from what I can remember, and the gates to the park shut at 7pm. So we were kind of stuck! But, somehow, thanks to this 90 year old man, who saved us! He managed to reopen the cable cars for us and we safely got back down to where we needed to be before the gates shut. Yes, it was an adventure, but it might have ended in a completely different way. All I can say, thank goodness & kindness of this man, that we were lucky to get to our guesthouse safely. Otherwise, it would have been one cold night. This is the map we followed, shown below.
Check out my writings on Part 2 of this trip to Baofeng Lake.