Amazing Trip to Mt.Huangshan and HongcunAt last I write you!
First of all I want to thank you for your wonderful cooperation and organization. All we appreciated very much the guides, that had been very patient with us and allowed us to know these wonderful towns and attractions, and the hotels you reserved were very nice. The worse thing occurred us had been the short time of our trip. Every town needs more days, first of all Huangshan Mountain!!! And there are many other cities and monuments to visit that need another trip. Now I am going to write down my amazing travel experience in Huangshan and Hongcun per your request.
Day 01 ( May 18 ) Flight from Beijing to Huangshan
We landed safely on Huangshan Airport on time. The local Guide - Daniel Wang met us. It was almost dark. Driving up to Huangshan International Hotel was quite a shock. The hotel looked pretty classy. But I was pretty surprised when we drove up at night and saw our hotel lit with the lime and grey lighting. The hotel looks much more respectable in the daytime. The rooms we got were pretty good. It looked like it was a very modern, pretty hotel though it was a little bit disrepair. The exciting part is the free internet in the room via the provided ernet cable.
Day 02 ( May 19 ) Mt.Huangshan
Breakfast at Huangshan International Hotel. Don't expect too much about the food on the mountain. Things here are more expensive due to the difficulty in carrying the daily necessities. Anyhow the breakast was ok.
Packing for Mt. Huangshan
The night before, our guide told us that after we get off the cablecar at the top of Huangshan, we still had to walk about 20 minutes to the hotel - Beihai Hotel, a nice 4 star hotel. Anything we wanted to bring to the hotel we had to carry ourselves or hire a porter to carry for us. Since we were just staying one night on the mountain, we decided to leave big luggage in the hotel - International Hotel in the downtown of Huangshan City, just packing a few things into our backpack. I had brought a lot of cold weather apparel, like gloves, a scarf and extra layers. But since the guide said it was going to be about 38 degrees, I thought that I would be okay with less stuff so I left a few things behind. Turns out that outside was chilly but sunny so leaving the stuff behind was okay. But I sure wish I had more stuff inside the hotel. Then we had to check out of the hotel in the morning and leave our luggage in the lobby covered with nets that weren't even secured. The entire lobby was filled with luggage like that!
9:45-11:10 Drive to cable car at the foot of the Huangshan Mountain.
The real Mt.Hangshan, where we took the cable car was about 80 KM away from the downtown Hangshan City. The drive took about one and half hours. Very nice mountain road leading to the foot of the mountain. It was a fine day. We also passed some very pretty countryside on the drive to the mountain. The whole area is very scenic!
Our cablecar appointment was for 11:30 am. With VIP tickets, we didn't have to wait the typical 2-3 hours during the busy season like most of the domestic tourists.. This is where it showed that being on a tour was really worthwhile. We didn't have to do anything except get on the cablecar. The appointment was made and the tickets bought without us having to lift a finger.
11:20-11:40 Cable car to top of Mt. Huangshan
The cable car takes about 10 minutes. The walk up the mountain takes about 2-3 hours.
I just read some travelogues about diehards who climbed the mountain themselves. I much preferred to save my walking on the trails once we were at the top. From the cablecar, I could see old Chinese ladies making the climb that almost shamed me. After getting to the top, there's still a 20 minute hike to the hotel. That day on the mountain, it was a little foggy.
Huangshan Mountain ( Yellow Mountain )
11:40-12:20 Walk to Beginning to Believe Peak
Before taking us to the hotel, we walked to Beginning-to-Believe Peak. Our guide stayed back and watched our bags while we made excursions down the trail for some fantastic views.
12:20-13:30 Lunch in Beihai Hotel
The lunch was okay, but the view outside the window was priceless.
14:30-17:30 Walk on the mountain
There's a saying in China. Once you visit Huangshan, you don't have to visit any other mountains in China. I couldn't agree more. Huangshan must be one of the most beautiful places on earth. If you haven't been to Huangshan, you haven't lived. I spent the first two hours of this walk turning to look at the view and not believing how beautiful it was. That feeling wore off after a while, but it is a wonderful feeling to remember.
When you are at Huangshan, the views can be very distracting. You have to keep reminding yourself and others to "Walk, stop and then look". Don't walk and look at the same time. Many of the trails don't have railings and the steps can be uneven.
Wildlife in Huangshan Mountain.
19:30-20:20 Dinner in Beihai Hotel
The hotel was rated 4 star. It was a pretty old hotel and it showed. I'm not sure it was really 4 stars unless you consider it on a relative scale. But considering absolutely everything was brought up by porters including the beds and the TVs, I was willing to forgive a lot.
Our room was right up against a wall of mountain and was extremely cold.
Day 03 ( May 20) Huangshan, Hongcun
6:10-7:00 Beginning to Believe Peak
My husband and I saw the sunrise from Beginning to Believe Peak. It was just gorgeous! The clouds swirling around the peaks was indescribably moving. The night before, our guide had told us that sunrise was at 6:30 am. The forecast was, I think, a 50% chance of seeing the sunrise. It seems, the weather is highly changeable. Too many clouds means no visible sunrise. But we were very lucky. There were a lot of clouds, but they moved quickly and we had a great view of the sun peeking up over the horizon. In fact, the weather at Huangshan was perfect the all time we were there. We had been told that the mountain was very crowded at sunrise. There is a palce about 10 minutes from Beihai Hotel that everyone from all the surrounding hotels goes to. But if you are willing to walk 20 minutes, you can get away from the crowds. We got a late start and there was one tour group at Beginning To Believe Peak when we got there. They were noisy but it was amusing how excited they got everytime the sun emerged from the swirling clouds.
Mt. Huangshan at Sunrise
7:10-8:20 Lion's Peak
From the top of Lion's Peak, we got a close view of Monkey Watching the Sea.
Our guide had said it was a good place to watch the clouds among the peaks. By the time we got there, most of the clouds from the morning had burned off.
I was so excited with the beauty of the mountain that I didn't care if we made it back for breakfast. Especially since I didn't think it would be very good. We happened to make it back just in time and it actually turned out to be pretty good.
Everything brought up to the mountain is carried by porters. Everythin from the food, the sodas and beers, the building materials, to even the rocks. Our guide warned us that if you see a porter coming, it is really nice to step out of his way. They only make about 150 yuan a day climbing up the mountain for 4 hours carrying about 150 pounds on their bamboo poles. It's a hard life and I had no problem getting out of their way. It also made me not to waste anything I was given. I wasn't very hungry for dinner the night before, but I tried really hard to finish what food I could and not let any of the soda go to waste.
These guys are really strong with very well-defined muscles. They don't have calves on their legs. It was upsetting to see all the tourist who wouldn't move out of the way. Either their guides didn't warn them or they were oblivious or they didn't care. Hopefully, the first reason was the most likely.
10:13-10:22 Cable car to bottom
At the cable car station at the top, we could see a very long line of porters bringing a large, heavy-looking electrical cable up the mountain. We were very lucky with our cable car times. We went up midday the day before. So not only did we get to rise at a comfortable hour, we also avoided the early morning crowds of tour groups who were only going up for one day.
On the way down, we also got a good time. We found out that some tour groups had VIP appointments for the cable cars very early in the morning and missed the sunrise.
10:45-11:45 Drive to Hongcun
We passed some pretty countryside on the way to Hongcun. We saw some idyllic farm scenes with farmers workings the fields. But if you really stopped to think about it, those farmers had a hard life. Life wasn't idyllic for them. Even though it was a very pretty drive.
Parts of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" were filmed here. I don't remember the movie very well. We will have to watch the film again so I can say I was there. There is an admission fee to enter the village. The village is accessed by bridges. The village is supposed to be in the shape of an ox. The lake inside the village is said to be the ox's stomach. The entire village is supplied by a common waterway.
11:45-12:45 Lunch in 800 year old building in Hongcun
The building was supposed to be one of the oldest buildings in the village. The room was surrounded by some beautiful old carvings. But the room right next door had a new-looking bamboo floor. And the room was lit with flourescent lighting. The building was old but I believe the restaurant was relatively new. There was only one dining room like the one we were in. The rest of the restaurant wasn't as fancy. The food was pretty good. Outside the dining room, a vendor sat selling dried sweet potato or something.
14:35-15:35 Drive from Hongcun to Huangshan International Hotel
My husband took more opportunity to be poetic. He told us that when we lay in bed that night, we should hold our hand over our belly and remember all the good things that happened and not to think about the bad. It was actually really good advice. I have very fond memories of the trip even though I remember many instances where I was very annoyed by the food or something one of the other tour members were doing.
Drive to Huangshan International Hotel
18:30-19:30 Dinner at International Hotel
Happily, our luggage was all still there.This was also the last night we got free internet in the hotel room.
Day 04 ( May 21 ) Visit Old Town of Tunxi and flight for Shanghai
9:30-10:00 Drive to old town of Tunxi. Tunxi town is the old part of Huangshan City.
Old Town of Tunxi
12:30-13:30 Lunch at the town
There was hardly anyone in the restaurant, but the food wasn't too bad.
15:20-16:20 Flight to Shanghai
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