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We had an absolutely perfect day with our tour guide - Rogin Luo - who took us for a hike along The Great Wall! Didn't know what to expect and were thrilled to have him as our guide. Very imformative, knowledgable and fun! We go to experience a part of The Great Wall that was unrestored and see all its natural beauty. Got a long history lesson along the way!

After the hike, we all went to lunch at a small place at the bottom of the hill. Located in a house, we ate lunch in the proprietors bedroom! What a hoot! Rogin is the Best of the Best! This tour company delivered for us and we are extremely grateful.

Westborough, Massachusetts
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Zhangjiajie Trip
I finished my business in Chengdu on March 04, 2007. I didn't return to Beijing. Instead, I flew to Zhangjiajie for an inspection tour. Unfortunately the direct flight from Chengdu to Zhangjiajie had been out of service till March 27 due to the slack season. So I had to fly to Changsha. My early flight took me about 120 minutes and I arrived at Changsha at 9:30am.

Mr. Chen Huan, a local travel agency manager, whom I got to know in Lijiang, came to Changsha Huanghua International Airport to meet me. He would take care of me during my trip in Zhangjiajie. March 04 was the lantern festival for 2007. So I kept saying sorry for keeping him from his family on such an important festival. We drove to Zhangjiajie. Mr Chen Huan was a good driver. He drove the car fast and smoothly along the highway while talking with me all the way.

Changsha is about 318 km away from Zhangjiajie. He said that Hunan is a province with 70% of which are mountains, 20% water, 10% land. The whole province is surrounded on its three sides by mountains, east, south and west. Such geographic conditions make Hunan Province very cold in winter without the mountains to ward off the the cold from the north.

We arrived at Zhangjiajie almost 2:00pm. The Wulingyuan Scenic Area is about 30 km north of Zhangjiajie City proper. So most of the tourist group stay at the Wulingyuan Scenic Area ( Wulingyuan district is the most important district under its jurisdiction of Zhangjiajie ) instead of the downtown city.

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After simple lunch, we firsted visited the newly developed Tianmen Mountain. Now it is home to a 7.2 kilometre long cable car to the top of the 1277 metre mountain - it is said to be the longest cable car in the world. It was thrilling to get to the top of the Tianmen Mountain as if we were in heaven melting in the air - white cloud.

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On the Tianmen Mountian there is a huge cave. We took the local green coach for a close look at it. The cost for the coach was inluded in the ticket for the cable-car which costed RMB 200 per person. Tianmen Dong (Tianmen Cave) is somewhere between an arch and a through cave, but although it is generally called a cave, we classify it as a natural bridge. A huge opening in the steep cliff face of Mount Tianmen (1,518m asl), which is 130m high and about 30m wide. It crosses a part of the mountain, a rock with vertical walls, which is about 70m thick, which results in a cave length of 60m, about half its height. This fits the definition of an arch or natural bridge.

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Tianmen Dong became world famous, when a group of stunt pilots crossed it first by plane. It was an attempt to become listed in the Guiness Book of Records for the first time a cave was crossed by plane. The flight was sent on TV and watched by 800 Million people around the world.

After visiting Tianmen Mountain, we drove to the Wulingyuan area. The names of Wulingyuan and Zhangjiajie are confusing! After this fam trip trip, I have got to know:

Zhangjiajie refers to the City of Zhangjiajie as well as the name of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. And Zhanjiajie National Forest Park is one of the four attractions within the Wulingyuan Scenic Area which is listed as Wolrd Cultural Heritage. The Wulingyuan Scenic Area is very often colloquially called "Zhangjiajie" simply due to the fact that the Wulingyuan Scenic Area is under administration of Zhangjiajie.

We stayed at the newly just opened Tianzi Grand Hotel. It was a very nice hotel, up to 5 star standard in terms of its spacious room, hotel facilities. The Wulingyuan Scenic Area is divided into three parts: 1 ) Tianzi Mountain 2 ) Zhangjiajie National Forest Park 3) Suoxiyu Valley 4) Yangjiajie Natural Reserve.

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Tianzishan ( Tianzi Mountian ):
Tianzi Mountain gets its present name after Xiang Dakun who took the local farmers' revolt and named himself Tianzi - the Son of Heaven. Bordered by Suoxi Valley on the east, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park on the south, Tianzi Mountain is one of the four scenic zones in Wulingyuan. It lies on the highest point of "Golden Triangle", with its highest point being 1262.5m(Kunlun peak) and lowest point being 534m(Shilan valley). Except a layer of limestone and a few areolate stones at the peak, some hundred meters above sea level, the majority of scenic spots is formed of quart stones, belonging to sandstone ground feature which is the same as Suoxiyu Valley and Zhangjiajie. The landscape in Tianzi Mountain is natural and primeval.

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Zhangjiajie National Forest Park:
It is China's first national forest park, covering an area of 130 square kilometers. It is known by queer rocks. Over thousands peaks are in various forms. It is famous by springs between stones, streams along valleys and waterfalls on precipices. The park is also noted by rare woods and exotic flowers and uncommon trees.

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Suoxi Valley:
Suoxiyu Valley is the largest of the four areas. Landform here resembles Zhangjiajie and Tianzi Mountain, mainly making up of sandstone peaks. However, in the east pf Suoxiyu, there are some caves, for example, the most famous one is Yellow Dragon Cave. The cave is made of limestone. Suoxiyu Valley also boasts more than 20 species of animals, such as leopards, pangolins, and giant salamanders. According to scientific statistics, trees here have 93 families, 208 genus, and 679 species in all. Among them, those that are under national special protection reach to 19 species.

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Yangjiajie Naural Reserve is next to Zhangjiajie in the east and Tianzi mountain in the north with an area of about 34 square km. It is formed of three parts: Xiangzhistream, Longquan valley and Baihouvalley.

Mr Chen Huan told me that the famous Fenghuang Ancient Town is only 210 km away from Zhangjiajie, taking 3-hour's driving. Maybe next time, I would like to go to Fenghuang for a visit.

Zhangjiajie Trip

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