Saturday, October 20, 2012

Huangshan AM (10/20/2012)

Saturday, October 20, 2012
Up early because we had heard the breakfast buffet runs out by 7:30! We had plenty to eat, though.
Met out guide and driver at 8:30 for the drive to the Huangshan Scenic Area, about an hour's drive. The Huangshan or the Yellow Mountains are some of the most famous mountains in China, and they were listed in 1990 as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
They are not called the Yellow Mountains because they are yellow, but they were named (in 747 CE) after the legendary Yellow Emperor, the mythical ancestor of the Chinese who is said to have lived, refined precious medicines, became a supernatural being, and rose into heaven from here.
We drove through mountain valleys along a shallow river. There were rice paddies in the valley, but in this season they are filled with chrysanthemums. The white and yellow varieties are grown for tea, with the blossoms hand-cut and dried. The lower mountainsides were covered with tea bushes. Several times we passed large colonies of beehives. The mountains were mostly covered with tall bamboo forests, with the feathery tops bending downhill.
In the town of Tangkou (elevation 789 m/2,588') at the foot of Huangshan, we waited for our guide to get us special permission to drive up to the cable car station. The rest of the crowds had to take shuttle buses. We zigzagged up into the mountains, passing a hot springs resort.
The Huangshan are famous for five things, one being the hot springs. The other four are the picturesque pine trees, the oddly-shaped rocks, the sea of clouds below the peaks, and winter landscapes. We were able to see only two of these wonders in person, but we are happy.
We arrived at the Yungu Cable Car station at nearly 890 m/2,920' above sea level. Here we waited in a queue for 45 minutes to board the 8-person gondolas:
Views while ascending:
Floor to ceiling gondola window:
Once we reached the top, we still had a walk to the hotel:
Fake wood handrails (they are made of reinforced concrete):
A rock that resembles a standing man (down on the left):
Kent with the Stalagmite Gang Peak:
Some autumn color from the berries of the Sorbus amabilis/Huangshan Rowan:
Half a Pinus hwangshanensis/Huangshan Pine:
Kent & Tamiko carrying their own luggage:
The rock that resembles a man with a hat:
Pines growing from cliff sides and tops of rocks:
A natural trash can:
These were everywhere and workers were emptying them regularly.
The queue to climb to the top of Now I Believe Peak:
Tamiko at the Now I Believe Peak:
Kent at the Now I Believe Peak:
Now we believe the Yellow Mountains are an amazing sight!
Not everyone understood this sign:
Autumn color from the Populus sp./Poplar:
The Monkey Gazing at the Sea (of Clouds):
Tamiko & Kent at Lovers' Tree and Bridge:
The Lovers' Tree looks like two people embracing:
Here couples place special locks to pledge their undying love:
The Black Tiger Pine:
Legend says a tiger was seen sitting on a limb of this tree.
Porters carry supplies 9 km/5.5 miles up the mountain:
The Umbrella Tree, named by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
Deng Xiaoping was here:
He was an influential reformist leader through his position as Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
We checked into the Beihai Hotel (elevation 1,630 m/5,348'):
After a buffet lunch at the hotel, Jerry gave us a couple hours to "rest." We did some exploring around the hotel.
No smoking:
Except on the basketball court:
Randomly placed fire extinguishers:
Continued in Huangshan PM.

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