We had heard so much about the famous mountains where Avatar was filmed, that it became one of the most anticipated stops on our journey through China. As we were waiting to board the train that would take us to the area, we met a girl named Monica, who lives in Shanghai and was super friendly towards us. She showed us her well planned itinerary and explained that she was meeting her aunt there and that we should meet up and explore the mountains together.
Unfortunately, Monica wasn’t sitting near us on the train, instead, we were surrounding by noisy and discourteous people for six hours, YAY. The train was local and therefore made many stops and was not similar in any way to the clean bullet trains we had previously taken. This train was full of people gambling, smoking and eating wherever there was space. We kept to ourselves and played card games, wrote and worked on our movie. At one point we noticed the top of a phone peeking over the seat in front of us to take a picture of us. It wasn’t long before Rach was standing next to a guy smiling as six girls were giggling and taking pictures to post on WeChat. We humoured them and laughed as they called Rach “pretty girl” and took more pictures.
We arrived at the train station around 11:30pm and were met by a driver and another staff member that the hotel had sent. We stopped for something to eat on the way to the hotel and got to know each other through translated conversations. We finally arrived around 1am and fell asleep before our heads hit the pillow. We were woken up before seven by the sound of stone being cut outside our window as renovations were being made to the building next to us and we were not happy. They were super understanding and offered to move us to their sister location just a couple blocks away. We took the offer and moved later that afternoon. We decided not to head into the park that first day because we were too tired to want to walk around all day, so we just meandered the small city. As we came back to the hotel, the man who had picked us up from the station had gathered all the ingredients necessary to make dumplings! Rach and him had had a broken conversation regarding her love for cooking and dumplings. He took it upon himself to gather the ingredients so that he could teach us how to make them before cooking and eating with us . It was such a genuine gesture, he didn’t ask for money, for his time or the ingredients, he just wanted us to learn something new and enjoy our time in his city.
We messaged our friend Monica and decided we would meet up with her and her aunt the next day to see the park. As luck would have it, Monica and her aunt were staying two doors down from our new accommodations. We met them early the next morning and took a taxi to the park entrance where we could buy our tickets and make our way up the mountain. A bus ride, elevator and a lot of walking later and we were making our way from viewpoint to viewpoint in the company of two lovely people. We followed the path around the mountain and snaked between the masses of people as we found the various viewpoints. The walking was fairly easy going and not difficult to navigate. Each viewpoint held its own splendour, giving a unique perspective of these oddly shaped mountains.
Our breath was taken away from us each time we made our way to a new viewpoint and looked out over the park. We were sad that Monica and her aunt were leaving the next day, we would have loved to have them with us for the rest of our trip. We all fell asleep on the bus ride back down the mountain and though we said we would meet up for dinner, we all knew we were too tired. Rach and I took the cable car up the next day and were amazed at how few people there were, it seemed deserted compared to the day before.
We had the cable car to ourselves and weren’t pushing through crowds to get to viewpoints, it was a perfect last day. We spent the morning wandering around the mountains and the afternoon wandering around the city, we got a foot massage, ate some dumplings and took a walk next to the river. We posed for pictures with some other Chinese tourists
and ate dinner at a restaurant where the staff were fighting over who would bring us our food, they all wanted to get in a “hello”. One of our favourite things to watch as we walked around was the mid day exercise routines people would do, from every store and restaurant, the staff would come on to the sidewalk and preform a half an hour dance routine, sometimes people that weren’t part of the staff would join in just to get some activity into their day.
The next day packed up and moved to another part of the park called Tianmen. This is where the glass bridges are and the “stairway to heaven” but before all that, you have to take a bus up the 100 hair pin road and then you get to climb up 1000 steps before taking a couple of the longest escalators I’ve ever seen in my life.
The glass bridges would have been a lot more exhilarating had it been a clear day, nonetheless, when the clouds did part, your breath was taken away as suddenly you could see all the way down.
The mountains themselves were a little difficult to see because of the clouds but we made the best of it as we walked from point to point and enjoyed the bridges and sights during the brief moments of clarity in the sky.
The ride back was a lot more calm as it just one long cable car that goes from the top of the mountain right to the heart of the city. We walked back to our hotel from the cableway station and due to a wrong turn, ended up having to remove our shoes so we could cross a shallow river. We made it back safely and fell asleep as the two resident kittens scampered around the common area.
Don’t forget to check out our YouTube page to see the full video of our adventure in China.