China Part 1: Awestruck in Zhangjiajie

Part of my trip to China in September included a three day trip to Zhangjiajie, a World Heritage Site and the first National Park of China. Certain scenes of the movie Avatar were shot there (I have never watched the movie, and now that I have seen the real-life place I am afraid the movie will bore me).

Stop 1: Huanglong Cave

Immense – covers an area of 48 hectares and up to 15 kilometers in length. There is a river that runs through the cave and the stalagmites are another level of beauty. Probably the one thing that bothered me a little was the artificial light in unnatural colours, but the place remains stunning.

A lot of the structures in the cave have very imaginative names, but I can’t remember any of them. Huanglong, for example, means Yellow Dragon Cave.

“Eagle Looking for Food”

Stop 2: Zhanjiajie Park

The park is characterised by tall rocky outcrops and more colours of green that I have ever seen (green is my favourite colour). It offers a cable car ride that is breathtakingly scary. My friend with a fear of heights, Clinton, says it is worth it.

Panorama taken by Charl Engels
On the cable car ride

By the way, Zhangjiajie also house the world’s tallest and fastest outdoor elevator – the Bailong Elevator. It is 326m tall and moves at a speed of 3m/s.

Stop 3: Baofeng Lake

It was a rather hot day and all I wanted to do was swim in the beautiful water. The photos hardly do justice to this place.

Zhangjiajie is home to the Tu minority (which must be pronounced properly otherwise it means some expletive). So anywhere you go, you see their traditional dress and hear their traditional song. It is lovely. An awesome moment was when, after our tour guide sang a folk song to us in the Huanglong Caves, our group sang the South African National Anthem. Pretty cool.

Heading to China, I expected many things. Beauty was not one of them. As a South African, I have always firmly believed that my country is the most  beautiful. And because it is home, it probably will always be. China was certainly an experience that opened my eyes – and I thought they were already open.

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