The Chinese National Holiday
By the beginning of the second month in China we arrived at the Chinese National Holiday. The Chinese National Holiday is based around “National Day”, which is the celebration of the anniversary of the beginning of The People’s Republic of China which began in 1949. This event is celebrated on the 1st of October in Beijing and continues until the 7th. A military parade is held within Tiananmen Square, as well as other performances which I was unable to watch. As being a foreigner living in China you aren’t really allowed to go this event, this year has been especially special within China as it’s the 70th anniversary of The People’s Republic of China. But to make sure I did make it to Beijing for National Day, I got a train to and from Beijing.
I decided what could be more fun than a 23 hour train ride to Southern China to a place called Zhangjiajie. Before planning on coming to China I had never even heard of Zhangjiajie. It’s over 1000 kilometres away from both Shanghai and Beijing. It’s famous for its precarious peaks, dense forests and wildlife. The floating mountains in the movie Avatar, were inspired by Zhangjiajie’s landscapes. To picture them in your mind that toy you had as a kid where you would press down your hand or face and those little metal wires would make your face on the other side. Well it’s that, but on the scale that someones underneath the ground of the earth pushing random giant fingers up and leaving long fingers over 300 meters sticking straight out of the air.
To describe the entire experience of arriving was completely breath taking. At first we came out of the train station the complete opposite from tired. Even after our long journey the small group of friends talking over lunch about traveling this far had quickly become a group of 10 students full of energy ready to go, some even jumping out of pure excitement. We took a 1 hour bus ride travelling to the AirBnB we had booked as we travelled out of the small city (only really small for China) the mountains kinda became more skinnier, almost to cliffs in some cases but almost more dense, like becoming trees it was absolutely buzzer, still after returning home and writing my blog a little late I still get excited thinking about them.
Arriving at our accommodation was amazing, we stayed inside the park itself and thank goodness for our talented Chinese speaking friends, who did most of the talking for us. As a welcome dinner they offered us a chicken for dinner. We just didn’t expect it to be one of the ones running around outside in the garden.
Before our exciting meal we were taken to a small waterfall with one of my hosts. The first thing I noticed when I got to Zhangjiajie was how green and different it was to Tianjin that I had spent the last month staying in. As it had begun to get cold up in Tianjin we had travelled south enough that it was still easily 30Cº in October. Which meant that as we arrived at the waterfall what’s better than to go for a dip?!
As it got dark so did the mood for food. Quickly hurrying back we arrived to the smell of the chicken that had been running around the doorway when we had left, and man was it good.
When we woke up the next morning we got up and out to the outdoors. Our first stop to see the mountains that we had all been so excited for and funnily enough we where all very excited. As the bus took us up higher into the mountains which views continued to get better. Arriving at our first stop we came to a plateau, which was considered less of an attraction which meant less tourists but still had some of the best views I had ever seen. It was the perfect setting to stop and take photos. So I dared to go over the balcony for the best photos, which was probably a bit extreme when the drop right bellow your feet was over 800meters high. As the only Shetlander that I know to have ever travelled to Zhangjiajie, I think that meant I am the first to wave the Shetland flag proud and represent The Lounge.
Maybe one of my favourite photos from the entire trip was when I coaxed a butterfly to sit on my hand as I viewed the mountains.
Butterflies weren’t the only animal I got to meet whilst in Zhangjiajie.
Mountains were the main part of my adventure and where my best photos come in for this month. But apart from hunting in a little stream for fish and frogs. Watching monkeys was probably one of the most interesting experiences on my third day. Obviously, these animals are wild but I think after being fed so much food by tourists they just wait by the paths either out of interest or to steal whatever you have that isn’t attached to you. Let’s just say don’t open up your packet of Oreo’s and expect the monkeys to share them with you.
Travelling across Zhangjiajie was something amazing, but also was going home on a 28 hour train!!! Something I would recommend to anyone wanting to explore ‘the real China travel experience’ as one of my friends called it. But even on the long journey home I was so glad to spend my whole trip with these 9 people.