After our return from the Himalayan Mountains, we enjoyed a short stop in Shangri-La before getting on a train and our 4,000-kilometer journey eastward across China began. We reached our first stopover, Hunang Shan, after two cruel days of travel.
Once there, we were immediately taken care of by an enterprising hostel operator. With his help we were planning our exploration of the “Yellow Mountain” for the next two days. The Huang Shan is one of five sacred peaks of China and because of its proximity to Shanghai, always well attended. And the weekend situation did not make it any easier. So we started our way to the mountain summit the next morning with thousands of Chinese tourists. Thanks to the help of a cable car the ascend was quite relaxed and soon the first spectacular views entertained our eyes. After a short hike along the perfectly maintained paths over dizzying heights we reached the summit hotel and there we were able to get hold of a dark staff room after some hard bargaining.
But all the crowd could not destroy the incredible atmosphere of this place. Especially not on the next morning when we went off the beaten tourist treks and had an unforgettable spectacle: In the lower valleys, lit by the morning sun, granite rocks were sticking out of the mist. We could see now, why this vision was the inspiration for the sky rock in “Avatar“.
But the yellow mountain also showed us again, what cheap labor means in China. Thus every day nearly one hundred carriers struggle with their 80-pound baskets to bring food and drinks the approximately 1000 meters upward, which is then sold to tourists on the mountain. Despite several cable cars that lead up to the mountain. Really inhuman.
After this unique experience we went on into the financial and economic heart of China, Shanghai. The 25 million-metropolis has been booming for the last two decades, and this is also quite visible. Everything is super modern, clean, organized. The expected big city remained in shock, which is Shanghai rather than relaxed and friendly visitors turned out. Besides the impressive skyline of the city of skyscrapers, including the Shanghai World Financial Center, the tallest building in China, another highlight was waiting for us. A trip on Shanghai´s Maglev Train. This magnetic levitation train connects the city with the airport and does the 30 kilometers in just seven minutes. The most impressive moment is when the two trains pass each at 431 km/h. Just imagine, you sit at your window and a train passes with the speed of a bullet … When the window was open, you probably need a new haircut now.
At the end of our big trip of course something really great had to be explored: Beijing and the Great Wall of China! In China’s capital city, we stayed with a super-loving Italian couple who treated us with mouth-watering food. Unfortunately, we had little time left, so there was only space for Beijing’s classics as the Forbidden City, the Tiananmen Square and the Summer Palace. In particular, the former imperial residence, as a city within a city, was an impressive experience.
But our last adventure put everything else aside. Our hike on the Great Wall of China. We had chosen a rather un-touristy section as our starting point and therefore it was quit difficult to get there. But after intense negotiations with Chinese taxi drivers we got there and started to walk on and next to the dilapidated and often overgrown wall. After a rather exhausting day’s march, we found a wonderful place with a magnificent view over the Great Wall vanishing in the horizon.
Am kommenden Morgen gab es dann ein exquisites Geburtstagsfrühstück für Franka, inklusive einem schon etwas angeschmolzenen Gorgonzolakäse. Dieser gab uns dann auch die Kraft für die nächste Etappe, diesmal über einen restaurierten Teil der Mauer, wobei vor allem der Zeigefinger vom ständigen Fotografieren schnell erschöpft war. Nach einer weiteren Nacht auf der Mauer, diesmal in einem alten Wachturm, verhandelten wir wieder unseren Weg zurück nach Peking und ließen schweren Herzens diesen mystischen Ort hinter uns.
Then our last day of travel after more than two years world exploration full of adventures and memorable experiences had come and thanks to our hosts’ connection even a farewell party at the Italian Embassy was arranged for us;-) After that we flew on to Moscow, which airport we “enjoyed” a night long before our parents finally could welcome us together in Dresden…
to be continued…