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Published: February 21st 2013
CHINA: Beginning to Believe & the Black Tiger.
Sixteen today...my sixteenthth Provence in China...Anhui...and special it should be...sweet sixteen for me!
Left Christmas Eve 2012...night train from Shanghai to Huangshan...eleven & a half hours ...soft sleeper...Denise & I bottom bunks...Simon & Anna-Louise on top.
Going to Yellow Mountain...my perfect destination for Christmas...the atypical mountain in Chinese paintings...with trees growing out of rocks...the holiest of China's holy mountains...Huangshan.
The word is Winter is a shocking time to visit...just fog...nothing to see...I'll take that as encouragement.
When on a "David Hoo Tour...Your Travel Experts with Minimal Experience but Maximum Optimism"...Winter...few other tourists...no better time.
Forecast for minus 7 degrees Celsius...Simon from Toronto, Canada says that's warm...and he should know!
Train entering mountainous country...mist laden valleys & fields...snow drifts...villages...excitement building.
70 kms from Huangshan Railway Station to our lodge at the foot of the mountain at Tongkau...free shuttle service from Pine Ridge Lodge...beats public transport every time...winding through the mountains...grey sky...moisture in the air.
Pass through a town...a pig being dragged on the footpath...smell of impending execution...stop please...photo opportunity.
Pig's throat cut...wriggling...tub of boiling water being filled...men heaving the beast into the tub...second pig
just standing there trembling...awaiting its turn...man in the yellow plastic apron...bloodied...fag in his mouth.
Happy Christmas...yep its Christmas Day.
Pine Ridge Lodge sat among tall trees next to the Huangshan mountain Front Gate...a few kms from town...with the granite mountain peering down over it...big rooms...icy as...warmed up quickly with the A/C on.
The forecast today is fine then rain for the next few days, so after breakfast we headed up the mountain. Travel Tip
Yellow Mountain is a 5 Star Tourist Site...and it ain't cheap...so be warned.
Here's how to do it.
Vehicle to the Huangshan bus depot in Tongkau town...free for us from the lodge.
19 RMB each for bus to the cableway of your choice. There are three cableways so make sure you get the right bus.
150 RMB each to enter the park. You can get a 3 day pass for the same price, if you have your passport. Do not pay until you have found the person who will stamp your ticket. Otherwise you have to pay 150 RMB each time you visit the park. They do not advertise this so come prepared. This will
give you access to any of the cableways for 3 days.
65 RMB each for cableway up the mountain and 65 RMB each to come down. It is about a 20 min ride each way in sealed gondolas, over precipitous gorges.
19 RMB each for the bus back down.
That's 318 RMB each...about US$55...plus what you need for Oreos and other essentials.
As we had our tickets stamped, the next time up & return cost 168 RMB each or about US$30 .
Fortunately the lodge let me know prices before we went up or I wouldn't have had enough cash to get us all back down.
Fortunately we found an ATM up there or we wouldn't have had enough to get the Oreos! Beginning to Believe
The bus zig-zags up to the Cloud Valley Station on the East side of the mountain where we haggled for the 3 day pass...then onto the Yungu Cableway...yeeka...its a long way down...past smooth granite cliffs...yeeka...how on earth did they build this?
Arrive at White Goose Ridge Station...think you're in the heavens but the mountain only 1,800 metres high...but covers a large area...zillions of
granite peaks...each with a flowery name...clouds or deep valleys between.
Concrete paths leading in various directions...railings disguised as twisted vines...no way you'd divert off the paths...sheer drops to nowhere...stunning vistas...skinny lookouts...clear, clear day...only the occasional group around...how lucky are we.
One path led to a peak called "Beginning to Believe"...no idea why it was called that...maybe the rush you get standing on its peak...pretty freaky actually...maybe incredulity one is actually there.
And somewhere up there...near us now...a monk saw a black tiger lying on the top of a tree growing out of a rock...then looked again and the tiger was gone. Thus an ancient flat topped tree on Huangshan was called "Black Tiger Pine"...so I started looking.
Saw heaps of tenacious trees growing out of the cliffs...no cats......searching for the tree...I think I may have a photo of the Black Tiger Pine...not sure...searching for a black tiger...still looking.
Maybe its like the "Mickey Mouse Tree" on Emeishan in Sichuan...had difficulty finding that one too.
But on Yellow Mountain that day in the East and North Seas I saw:
"Heavenly Dog Watching the Moon"
"Monkey Holding a Peaching in Both Hands"
Immortal Pointing the Way"
"Double Cats Catching the Mice"
"The Flower Growing Out of a Writing Brush Rock"
"Guan Yin Peak"
"Pen Rack Peak"
and "The Eighteen Arhats Worshipping at South Sea" to name a few.
Incredibly beautiful up here...understanding why Chinese artists of past and present are so enthralled with this place...maybe...yep...maybe
Ripped off with Full Belly
I am beginning to Believe!
Got off the mountain...last gondola of the day...dark when we got to the bus station in Tongkau...lets find somewhere for dinner.
Walking down a narrow road to exit the bus station...bip, bip, bip behind...move to the left side next to a railing presuming a car behind...Simon vaulting the railing as the bip at his back... %!@(MISSING)*!!!...
lands on the front wheel of a motorbike coming through...miracle noone injured...sorry, sorry...why oh why was he bipping us?
Heaps of restaurants...pick one...welcomed in...sat down...wash hands out the back.
The menu was appetising...rat, snake, dog, eel & deer...plates and glassware presented in vacuum packed plastic.
Simon opens the plastic and a glass tumbler within greasy and grimey...asks for another. The waiter washes it in water and returns it still grimey...Simon asks
THE 438 RMB PHOTO
He ripped me off big time...lucky for him its Christmas Day
again for another...she indicating to us it will do.
I simply stood up and ushered my family out of there...proprietors objecting...probably calling us the items on the menu...anyway I can't imagine eating rat, snake or dog...not for Christmas dinner anyway!
Found another restaurant up the road...a large round table of about 10 men eating hotpot and other assorted dishes...we'll have that please.
Simon & I had a couple of local beers...Tezhi and Ynksun...8 RMB each and a Japanese Suntory...fantastic feed...really hit the spot.
Then came the bill...438 RMB...what's the super expensive one?...the hotpot...clear we were being ripped off big time...probably about 4 to 5 times what it should have been.
But it was Christmas Day...didn't want a fight and end the day on a bummer...so I paid up and took photos of the proprietor...among hanging ducks & pig's head...who then got a mate to drive us back to our lodge in his black Peugeot...for 20 RMB!
Told the proprietor of the lodge what had happened. He was mortified. Thereafter he (Wayne Tong) ensured we ate famously and cheaply at the Lodge...one night with him...sensational food...and company.
Turned out Wayne had lived in Toronto
for 5 years...around the corner from where Simon lives...its a small, small World!!! Into The South Sea and into the Clouds
Days later we went up the mountain again...this time from the South...bus to Mercy Light Station...then Jade Screen (Yuping) Cableway to Jade Screen Station at the top.
But today was very different...light rain throughout...into a sea of fog...into the clouds...visibility very poor...no peaks in the South Sea visible...bummer really...this not unusual for this time of year.
We probably stayed up there for about an hour...probably only that long as I was trying to photograph trees growing out of rocks...fog enveloping.
Disappointing...too wet to even look for Oreos!
Thus lunch in the Lodge's Restaurant...gorging...then to pack.
Tonight we are off to Tunxi...the ancient art town in Huangshan City...then night train to Suzhou.
Ah...hang on...I can't forget to do a portrait blog...something special...something magical...our time in Anhui...much more than just on Yellow Mountain...mmm...much more...watch this space. And the band played...introducing Dao Lang
Now...if you can open the following music video...play it while enjoying the photos...capturing the beauty and magic that is Yellow Mountain.
And if you
CAN'T BELIEVE MY EYES
Yellow Mountain is breathtaking!
can't access the music...may the photos play their own melody.
Relax & Enjoy,