After only three weeks work, China’s autumn festival came around = holiday time!
So we decided to go on a trip to see the spectacular Zhangjiajie National Forest.
It is hard to put into words or even pictures what it was like seeing Zhangjiajie’s mountain peaks for the first time. It was all beautiful, like something out of a fantasy book. The local people were friendly; they had little mini markets set up all over the forest. I ended up paying 15 Yuan (£1.50) for a necklace that was originally offered at 50 Yuan (£5.00); it’s really hard to know if you have ever got a good deal in China. I always guess if they don’t look pleased then you did ok. We brought a ticket for the forest which lasted for three days, which is nowhere near enough time to see everything!
Everything in Zhangjiajie town is relatively close, it didn’t seem like it was a big place at all, which came in useful when we needed to get from place to place. The bus ride into the National Forest from the town was hilarious, but also death defying. We made friends with English speaking locals and their kids, on the bus and trains which was great because they always seemed to offer us sweets or some random food they were eating.
One of the days we decided to go on a walk on the east side of the forest close to the foot of the mountains. A light stroll suddenly became a major trek; we literally walked up steps for about 3 hours… I was so terrified to begin with, the steps were pretty small, and some were crumbling off! Chinese people seem to have no fear of heights and some were even leaning over the edges. I had a death grip on Dwayne’s arm.
At one point we found what looked like chickens dipped straight in oil (I hope they were dead first). I found chickens (live ones this time) and started feeding them, got some strange looks and laughs from the locals, who obviously thought I was insane for throwing perfectly good bread on the floor for the chickens. Dwayne thought I was insane too, as I shared our lunch with the chickens.
We spent our final day in the Yellow Dragon Caves. The amount of people visiting Zhangjiajie seemed to have doubled since we had first arrived. However, they have a special line for foreigners to move ahead of everyone else! This was unbelievably good. The caves were a stark contrast to the heat outside, as you walk in the air is damp and cold. It was kind of creepy being inside a mountain in the dark, knowing that if the electricity goes it would take all year to find your way out.
While in the caves we went on a boat ride, saw a suspiciously phallic shaped rock and had our pictures taken about a hundred times. I can never understand why some people want a picture taken with a complete stranger. I wonder if our faces are stuck in hundreds of family albums…