Wednesday June 20
This morning we woke at 6:00 to pack for the trip to the mountain. We were staying on top of the mountain in a hotel for one night and packed everything we were going to need for overnight in our day packs. We left our luggage with the driver in his van. Our hosts in the hotel fixed us a breakfast to eat on the outside veranda. We ate eggs, rice porridge, and mantou (steamed buns). At 8:30 our driver came to pick us up and take us to the place where we would take a bus to the cable car. From the cable car we would walk about 4 KM to our hotel. EVERYTHING we would have at the hotel, clean laundry, food, soap, snacks, all the building materials, everything, was brought up on shoulder poles by porters. Over the course of the day, you would have to step out of the way so the porters could keep walking at their slow pace up the hills. Bricks, flooring material, carpet, cement for new construction, were all brought up by these amazingly strong men.
On top of the mountain, the pathways were clear, clean and new. All concrete and carved out stone steps. There were trashcans and people, for the most part, people used them. We walked and looked at viewpoints, and were amazed at the scenery, Huang Shan is truly a beautiful place by any standards. It would be a national park if it were in our country.
We got to our hotel about 2:00 in the afternoon and after we checked in, we went to look around a bit more. We climbed a part of the area called "Purple Peak" and sat there for a while admiring the scenery. About 5:00 we went for dinner, which was more expensive than most dinners here, but when you consider that each plate, each chop stick, each bite of vegetable was carried by one of the porters, it didn't seem so bad, and we were very thankful for a good meal. After dinner we went back to our room, had a shower, watched some TV and went to bed very early, at 8:30.
Thursday June 21
This morning we woke at 4:30 AM to go out to see the sunrise. We were not the only ones out, but we went to a quiet area, which was facing the wrong direction for the sun rise (on purpose) and enjoyed a peaceful morning listening to the birds and watching the sunlight change on the rocks. We stayed watching the sunrise until about 5:30 and then we went and got breakfast (bamboo leaf wrapped rice, corn on the cob, and tea eggs). We ate breakfast on the front veranda of the hotel on a little table, enjoying the birds and watching the people...watching us!
After breakfast, we went to our room, packed up and started on our way back down the mountain.
On this day, we hiked to more popular area of Huang Shan, and encountered more people. Before, it was in Chinese terms, relatively empty. On this hike there were some very strenuous uphill stair climbs as well, 100-250 steps at a time, but a great majority of the hike was steps down. The scenery all through the park area was amazing. The karst stone formations are so sheer and steep, there isn't a good way to explain it with words. The area is frequently featured in Chinese paintings. You know these paintings of steep hills surrounded with fog and mist, and you figure that it must just be some scenery that someone imagined? Well, this place DOES exist. It's called Huang Shan. In all, on this day, we hiked upstairs and downstairs about 5 KM. I had bought Laina and Min a little medal on a ribbon that has picture of Huang Shan and they had their names engraved on one side. Laina is so proud of this medal that she has been wearing it all the time since! We made it to the cable car at 12:00 and at the bottom, found our driver and had lunch and zoomed back to Nanjing.
Back in Nanjing, the girls went swimming with Jorg, I wrote some emails and caught up on blogging. We ate dinner once again with Sean and Eliza. Each dinner they have taken us to has been fantastic. Eliza has been so kind and has bought the kids some new clothes and a very cute little doll toy, but this has nearly overloaded us and packing has become trickier. We are currently all packed so that we each have a day-pack and a carry on sized pull along suitcase. Every item we are bringing with us has been carefully thought out and any extra puts us closer to overloaded. Hopefully we will be able to stay light!! We went back to our hotel and got in bed at 9:30.