The 张家界 national forest is one of the most breathtaking sights for mountainous scenery in China. The UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hunan Province 湖南省 is a magnificent natural phenomenon that inspired films like the floating mountains in Pandora and much of Chinese mythology.
On my 7 day trip to Hunan, we covered most of the 1200 acre national forest park and the nearby town of 凤凰.
Why we decided to arrive bang in the middle of the rainy season, engulfed in mist and drizzle, will always come back to haunt me in my sleep. Some parts of the mountain were so cloaked in mist that we could barely make out what was in front of us, let alone see the wonders of thousands of peaks however, it did add an air of enchantment albeit eeriness to our adventure. Some zombie walking was involved to make sure we stayed away from the edges of cliffs and the sides of rocks.
I apologise for the quality of my pictures!
The mountains can reach altitudes of up to 1000 metres above sea level, we hiked for 8 hours straight on some days, others thankfully by cable cars. All the blood, sweat and tears will be worth the very first breath you take when you reach the top.
This mystical place above the clouds is where nature rewards the imaginative (and my only ticket to heaven), do you see the peaks as strange free standing formations or do you see a much deeper story weaved into its foundation?
The imperial calligraphy brushes
This mist is good for the enchanted effect, but bad for hair.
The mountains were rich with wildlife.
We visited a nearby village on the trail down from the mountains, where villagers enjoyed a much simpler life to the one we lived in today. Ironically though, I did wonder if they were actually just performers paid by the government for tourism.
Oh the weather decided to clear up
On our last day, we endured a rocky coach ride to an ancient Watertown called Phoenix 凤凰. The town’s old way of life and architecture seems to be preserved to give visitors a taste of what life’s like for the residents living there.
Stroll through the cobbled alleyways, pick up a dried pig’s head by the market stall and take a ride on the gondolas to the restaurants and bars held up by bamboo. For best views, head along the riverbank or into an old tea house that sits above the town.
Spot the tourists!
Market stalls selling duck’s blood, tofu, fish skewers
Flattened pig’s head…
Town of 凤凰 (Pheonix)