We travelled from Yangshou to Guilin to Shanghai to Huangshan (more than 36 hours of travelling to get to our destination via taxi then bus then another bus then overnight train then subway train then bullet train then bus). We stayed in the Koala Youth Hostel in Huangshan town- it was a cool little hostel with a pool table and dart board in the lobby and helpful staff. The reason we travelled here was to see Huangshan.
To directly quote the wikipedia page: “Huangshan (Chinese: 黄山, literal meaning: Yellow Mountain) is a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern China. “The area is well known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly-shaped granite peaks, Huangshan pine trees, hot springs, winter snow, and views of the clouds from above. Huangshan is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of China’s major tourist destinations.” TLDR: it’s beautiful.
We had planned to book somewhere to stay on the mountain with the help of our hostel, however without realizing we had ended up at this popular tourist sight in tourist high season on a weekend i.e. everywhere was booked up! Our hostel offered us an alternative- camping on the mountain. Our hostel rented us a tent, two sleeping bags, and two floor mats for our trip (for the equivalent of $26 NZD). Phew. Now with our alternative accommodation sorted we were ready to go.
On arriving to the base of the mountain we showed our drivers licenses hoping they might be misidentified as student cards, and happily we got our discounted tickets saving ourselves $20 each! We chose to walk up the mountain with our gear rather than take the cable car, it was all stairs for about 2.5 hours uphill. We were sweating like a cold bottle of Tsingtao beer straight out of the fridge on a hot day.
Exhausted, at the summit of the mountain, we headed to the area that the hostel staff had suggested we set up our camp. We were surprised to find the hard ground that the hostel staff had described was actually concrete, and the number of tents! By the end of the night there must have been 40 tents out on the concrete around us!
The next day we woke up at 4:30am- you read that right Chris and Issy woke up at 4:30am- along with the rest of our camp to go and see the sunrise at the top of a nearby summit. We quickly packed up our tent etc and set out. Clearly not an original thought as there would have been about 200-300 people there trying to catch first light. It was a cloudy morning so sadly the sunrise was probably not worth the very early morning. We set off from the summit to walk through a nearby canyon- touted as being the most photogenic part of the park- this was true!
Unfortunately we had not eaten and had no food that morning so we slowly became hangry walking through the canyon.
Blessed be, we found at the bottom of the canyon about 2 hours after we started our walk from the sunrise we found a cable car which would take us back to the top of the mountain- to food.
We ate a muffin and had a sugary coffee each. And now we were ok again, but tired. A big walk the day before, a poor sleep on concrete, a very early start, another big walk after that, plus hangriness = Chris and Issy ready to head out of the park. It still took another 3 or so hours to walk out of the park which was mainly down stairs, we have a new appreciation for how hard it is to walk downstairs.
We realised on arriving back to the hostel that it was Easter Sunday, which means easter eggs back home. In China we couldnt find any chocolate eggs so we got alternatives- snickers for Issy, jelly lollies for chris (we figured after the last two days we could take the calorie hit easily). We made each other an easter egg hunt around our hostel room, see below for pictures:
The next day (after some relaxation and games of pool), we bought train tickets back to Shanghai and headed into the big city…