Last year we have been traveling to one of the primary touristic sites in China, Mount Huang in Anhui.
We started by taking a train from Changzhou to Huangshan, the nearest city to the mountain. Unfortunately we choose the friday evening to leave Changzhou because we could not imagine that the night train would be that full of people. We had bought tickets for seats but we were lucky to be able to enter the train after all. A little bit more crowded and we could have tried only by entering through the windows. No chance to get through to our seats at first.
The chinese people, used to such situations, are very patient and helpful but everybody watched the stranger as if I came from Mars. After about an hour standing in the door, unable to move or enter the compartment a train conducter squeezed himself through the crowed loosening it up enough that we could finally, with the combined help of all people standing in the corridor between us and our seats, reach the seats and sit down.
Around lunchtime next day, after an exhausting night in this train, we reached Huangshan where we changed into a bus for another two hours to go to our destination Tangkou at the foot of Mount Huang.
This night I was happy to see my bed because beeing squeezed like a sardine in a can is not really relaxing for me with my nearly 2m.
Next day we relaxed a little bit in Tangkou, bought some supply for our trip up the Mount Huang, had lunch and dinner in nice restaurants and our first impression of Mount Huang who is dominating the view.
But before we attacked the Mount Huang we tried our strenght on a smaller walk up to the site of the Nine Dragon Waterfalls which is near Tangkou too.
Here for the first time I realised the difference between me taking photos and the chinese tourists. When I take a photo mainly I take subjects of the surrounding area and views, if I can without too many people in the image 😉 The chinese tourists seem not interested in taking photos of beautiful views themselves. They only make photos if they are standing in front of the view to show where they have been.
Actually it was about 30°C warm and very sunny and I sweated a lot and got a little sunburn which made me not really confident for the next day when we wanted to start our big tour up the mountain.
Next day we started in the morning with a taxi which drove us to the eastern gate of the mountain area. Luckily the sunshine was not so strong and many of the stairs which lead up this trail lie in the shadow of trees.
The whole Mount Huang region would be unaccessible if there were not stairs, stairs, stairs up and down the steep hillsides which lead into the mountain.
Did you ever try to climb stairs for about 5-6 hours? That is walking up to the Mount Huang 😉 There was another small inconvenience especially for me. My shoe size is 48 and exceeds therefore the standard chinese size a little bit. Many of the stairs, specially in steep parts, are that short that sometimes for a good while of the track I could only walk on my tiptoes like a ballerina 😀 Now I understand better why they are always so slim, its really exhausting to walk like this in particular up a mountain.
But there were others who were completely unimpressed by the stairs. Because the stairs are the only way besides the cable car to transport things into the Mount Huang there are many people making their living from carrying supply into the mountains. From my own experience I can tell that they transported everything from food, drinks, clothes to wooden bars, electric cables and pipes.
As we asked they told us that each of them is carrying around 80kg at each ascent and if they can get payload, also on their way down. There were legions of these small men walking up the mountain and we could hardly match their incredible speed. While we only made it up the mountain during the day they went up and returned in the evening.
When we were still in the small town we were told to take our own supply with us because the prices on the mountain are very high. Therefore I was carrying my big backpack stuffed with food and water. Actually when you see how everything is transported up the mountain and try to carry your own part up these steep stairs I think the prices on the top where quiet reasonable. 🙂
Finally we made it to the top and walked on a more or less flat walkway to our camp where we have rented a tent for the night.
Next morning we got up extremly early at about 4 to see the sunrise over the mountain. We could see some sunrise but we were not lucky enough to have a free view without clouds as seen in many touristic images about Mount Huang.
Because we were so early and there was not so much to see we decided to make the tour through the western canyon which is famous for his thousands of stairs before we went home.
As a resume I would say don’t carry much supply, only take a snack and a bottle of water and even though there are no real maps of the region you cannot get lost because everything is very well maintained and there are signs everywhere indicating the directions.
Further information can be found on Wikipedia.