Traveling had always been a luxury to me in high school, not only because I was as poor as a church rat but also my time was dedicated to the school work.
After taking the exams for college entrance, I was dying to go somewhere nice, having a real trip as a grown-up for the very first time. My mom, who worked as a travel agent then, booked a three-day trip to Mount. Huang for me as a graduation gift, and dad, who had been to the mountain several times, ensured me that this was a trip that I would never forget.
Half-convinced, I started to prepare for the trip with my travel buddy----my best friend Liu. My dad, as an experienced traveler, was eager to share his wisdom with us. Being a keen backpacker myself, I also googled a lot about Mount. Huang.
Mount. Huang, Huang Shan in Mandarin, is one of the Top 10 tourist attractions in China, situated in Anhui Province, which is about 5 hours' drive from Nanjing. My dad always says that Mount. Huang is a place worth exploring, because the scenery is ever-changing. It takes on different looks in every season or even in the same day. Moreover, as your state of mind changes with the time passing by, the view in your eyes will be different, so visiting Mount. Huang can be the landmarks of your own life.
Well, enough for the mushy exclamation, real preparation should be done. Both of us brought our most comfortable sport pants and sneakers, which were apparently not the most attractive outfits of ours, but they would save our ass in the mountain climbing. We would spend one night in the mountain in order to catch the famous Mount. Huang sunrise, and all the information we got telling us that accommodation in the mountain area would be a challenge. However, my mom, as a truly professional trip advisor, had booked a better room for us so we would be able to shower and have more private space. Mom, you rock!
Since not that athletic, the two of us picked up jogging a week before the trip. We made a list of essentials to make sure everything we needed would be with us when the time came.
The great day finally arrived, and the moms came to see us off, creating a mushy farewell. We were excited for sure, but soon both fell asleep because we got up at 4 a.m. to make the early departure. After maybe 5 hours, we stopped at a hotel in Huangshan, the city where Mount. Huang located. The tour guide suggested a rather new tourist attraction for the afternoon. Unfortunately, Liu was beckoned by the longing for a sound sleep, so I turned down the guide and stayed with her. We went shopping in the small block we lived for bottled water and snacks, after getting some quality sleep for hours. I could not even remember how we spent the night. Overwhelmed by excitement, we were expecting a spectacular Mount. Huang the next day.
Getting off the bus, I finally saw the mountain with my own very eyes. Standing in awe, I could understand why dad visited this place over and over again. The mountains were lofty with overwhelming grandeur, belted with misty clouds. The tour guide was a small sly-looking young man, full of bizarre anecdotes. He told us if we could see the famous "cloud and mist", we would be so blessed. Soon the group split up after the guide announced that we could have 3 flexible hours before assembled again on Bai'e (white goose) Ling. Climbing for 10 minutes, we realized it would be a tough cause for useless people like us. Along the way, tourists from all over the world could be seen, as well as the tanned muscular porters who carried loads of goods went all the way to the top of the mountain.
Mt. Huang was more challenging than most mountains because of its unique geographical features, which required us to climb, slide down and walk from time to time. Soon we took our first break and the next ones came every 10 minutes. Sitting on the mountain road side and watching people passing by at an amazing speed, we still did not feel like much of losers because taking this chance to feast on the incredible scenery.
We accidentally picked a tiny lane in a cross, and found this incredible stream. In summer, nothing is better than having crystal stream water slipping through your fingers.
I have already forgotten the name of the mountain, but what I did remember was the saying about it. Legend has it that looking at it gives you ten more years of life. What kind of elixir!
The locks on the chains are placed by couples in love as a symbol of locking their hearts together "till death do us part". Usually people place locks with their names on each and lock them together on the chain, then throw the keys into the abysses.
Watching sunrise in Huangshan was an experience that I would never forget. We probably got up at 2 a.m. and met the rest of the group, going hand-in-hand all the way up to Brightness Top, which according to Chinese Kung-fu fictions, was a holy place exclusively for Kung-fu masters in the past. Waiting in silence, I totally got the saying of"darkness before the sunrise". In the break of dawn, when the rosy and splendid light ripping the grey clouds, the crowd burst into deafening applause. The magic of the nature was just bewildering, much more moving than any Hollywood stunt.
After the sunrise, we had a break then started our conquering of the most tricky summit of Huangshan----Heavenly Capital Peak.
Tips from Violet:
a). Bring your most comfortable gym clothes and footwear.
b).You can do grocery shopping before exploring the mountain, esp. the bottled water which cost 15 yuan(about 2.2 dollars) in the mountain while only 1 yuan in regular stores. It is easy to understand because everything in the mountain are transported by porters.
c).Besides the regular traveling essentials, I suggest you take a thick jacket or sweater with you to deal with the dramatic temperature differences between day and night in mountainous area. Raincoat, not umbrella, should be brought since it rains frequently in the moutain where umbrella is too delicate to cover most of your body and your bag!
d).If you plan to watch sunrise or exploring the mountain after the lights go out, flashlight with sufficient power is the must. In order to preserve the natural environment in Mount. Huang, no street lamps are set.
e).Finding a reliable travel agency will save you a lot of trouble.