Monday, July 4, 2011

Huang Shan... or should I say Pandora?

"You should see your faces!" laughed Trudy, turning to her passengers as they approached Pandora's Hallelujah Mountains. James Cameron's 'Avatar' laid out a mystical and utterly stunning world, one inspired by Huang Shan and a few other places in China (like Zhangjiajie).

As we hiked from the drop off point to the highest peak, at 6,115 feet, I heard Trudy's voice. "You should see your faces!" While I was not on Pandora, I sure as heck felt like it. The jagged cliffs, dotted with ancient pine trees; the low lying clouds, and the sheer otherworldly atmosphere had me saying, "Hallelujah," indeed!

It took us four hours to walk up countless steps to reach the peak, and we saw very few foreigners on the climb. Approaching the base at which the cable car unloads the unadventrous, I couldn't help but laugh. Hundreds of tourists, with matching hats and all, were being herded around like frantic sheep, gawking at the beauty around them. Well hey guys, I had to work for that darn view! It took me three and a half hours to get to the base point. It took all of them 10 minutes and 80 quay. So ha! My experience was much more meaningful, I don't regret a second of it. We did take the cable car down, I had to admit, but it was only because the last bus was to leave at 5PM, and we wouldn't make it in time had we started walking by the time we were finished. C'est la vie. The climb up is the more important part. :-P

Upon our return from Huang Shan, we cleaned up and ate some frickin' amazing street food. Noodles, and skewers, and ice cream - oh my! When it got dark, we sat outside our hostel and chatted for awhile, watching the Chinese watching us watching them. They took photos of us and with us. Some discreetly, most of the time not so much. The crowd of Chinese onlookers got really excited when we began playing the Mongolian ankle bone game. At one point, I turned to make my move, and half a dozen flashes went off. I felt like Tom Cruise. Wait, no, he's insane and washed up. I felt like....... George Clooney. No, he's a prick. Barack Obama? Idk, I felt like someone famous - you get the picture. It's weird to have paparazzi and a crowd just for being yourself. But hey, I guess now I know how people feel when I take pictures of them playing cards or selling stinky tofu.

Here are some photos of Huang Shan. Keep an eye out for giant blue people, they might be somewhere among the trees... probably playing the ankle bone game with Krishna, or the Smurfs.

PS - Letters??

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