The biggest, the tallest and the most spectacular

The biggest, the tallest and the most spectacular

It’s time to continue our journey through China. If you have no idea what I’m talking about it might be smart to check out some of my other recent blog post, but in short; I’m on a month-long backpacking trip through China with my mom. After Beijing and Shanghai it’s now time to leave the east coast and make our way inland, to explore Yichang and Zhangjiajie.

Before really leaving the coast we made a one-night pitstop in Hangzhou. We’d heard so many good things about this city, so we just had to go there. I have to admit though that this was probably my least favourite stop on our entire journey. Maybe it was just because we were absolutely exhausted from Beijing and Shanghai, but I didn’t find Hangzhou all that special. The west lake was nice and there was a certain charm to the city, but I think I was just too tired to really appreciate it. After exploring for a little bit, we decided it would be the best idea to just chill in the hotel room and go to bed early.

The next day we spent about 8 hours on a train travelling to Yichang. Yichang was on our itinerary mainly to visit the three gorges dam, which is the biggest dam in the world. When we arrived we booked a chinese tour (as there were no English tours available) and the next day we hopped on the bus to see this massive structure. I have to say it was really impressive. It was really foggy, so we could only see part of the dam, but even that part was already enormous. The tour group was also hilarious and we made some new friends, even though no-one spoke English and we still only knew 3 words in Chinese.

Yichang in itself was really what I expected a Chinese city to be like. First of all, I felt like barely anyone in the entire city spoke a word of English. Even at the tourist office they didn’t even know how to say ‘hello’. I get it though, as it’s not the most popular place for foreign tourists, it’s mostly just a popular destination for Chinese tourism. Secondly, the city is big even though it’s only a small city in Chinese standards, the city has more than 4 million inhabitants, which is insane if you think about the fact that that’s about a quarter of all citizens in the Netherlands. There were so many residential towers, which to me has become a typical sign of Chinese cities. The entire trip my mom and I were joking about the fact that they must have been cheaper to buy by the dozen, because in every city we visited or passed on the train they were never just building one new tower, they always seemed to be building multiple identical ones at the same time.

Our next stop was Zhangjiajie, or actually Wulingyuan, a village about an hour from Zhangjiajie city, right near the entrance of the Wulingyuan scenic and historical interest area (often referred to as Zhangjiajie National Park). I’m so happy we decided to stay in Wulingyuan, because it was not only very convenient, it was also just a really cute village and the hotel we stayed in is one of my favourites on this trip. Unfortunately, we were only there for two nights, which meant we had only one day to explore the park and of course on that particular day it was pouring rain the entire day. We didn’t let that stop us though. Luckily there are a lot of bus routes, cable cars and sightseeing trams to get around the park, so we could explore a lot with a roof above our heads. A little side note, throughout our trip I’ve really gotten the feeling that Chinese people don’t like to walk while they’re on vacation, because at basically every touristy place they have thought of a way of transport other than walking.

Despite the rain and fog, visiting the park was absolutely amazing. The sandstone peaks are stunning and it’s just an unbelievable sights. I guess due to the weather it was pretty quiet in the park during our visit, which was actually super nice. First, we explored the park a bit from the valley, before we went up with the Bailong elevator, which is the tallest outdoor lift in the world (I feel like everything in China is the biggest or the largest or the fastest or something ;p). The view from the top was even more amazing. Sometimes we couldn’t see anything, it would just be all white from the fog. Most people were just walking on, disappointed, but we discovered that if we just waited a little bit there would usually be a short moment in which the clouds would be blown away and it would clear up. Every time it was like the curtain was opened and we were presented with the most stunning views I’ve ever seen. On our way back down we took a cable car and I have to say it’s pretty scary to sit in a little cabin with just white all around you, but the moment the fog cleared out the view was again spectacular.

Overall, our trip through China has been so diverse already. It was great to explore Beijing and Shanghai (which you can read all about by clicking here), but now I feel like I’ve gotten to know more of the real China. It was really cool to see a much less famous Chinese city. I think it’s so interesting that there are so many giant cities in China, I think more than a hundred cities with over a million inhabitants, and most of them we have never heard of before. I’m also really happy that we got to see some amazing nature already, I always love visiting National parks and I think the one in Zhangjiajie is one of the most spectacular ones I’ve ever visited. I can’t wait to share more of my adventures through China with you in next weeks post, which will include another big city, an ancient village and some more beautiful nature.

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