The next day we thought we would head down to the viewing platforms near the hostel and then wonder along a rarely used path, according to the guid book.
So we wondered down many steps to take us to “Celestial Bridge”, then “Emperors Throne”. Naturally the next viewing platform was “Cock Peaking” followed by “One Dangerous Step”. The step was a gap between the mainland and a pillar, and I imagine it would have been very dangerous without the metal grate that was put over it. Looking through the grate you could see straight down about 300 m. Was pretty cool. Near here was where the mysterious path should start.
At this point we were thinking, how disused is this path, as we started going along a very narrow, overgrown vague looking path that really needed a machete to get through. So, since we left our machete at the hostel we went back along were we had come (all of 2 m) and wondered along the main path about 5 m more and saw a 1 m wide, paved and slightly overgrown trail. Perfect this must be it. After waking along this for a bit for a little bit, our new friend Matthew, who was walking behind us, suddenly shouted with pain. So we instantly turned out heads to see that there was a swarm of bees behind Matthew and he had just been stung. So all three of us sprinted away, which seamed to shake them. Now we were thinking, how bad is a sting from Chinese maybe wasps or bees? Anyhow, he seemed ok after a few minutes so we assumed all would be fine.
Further along the path there was a cave entrance that we obviously had to go in to. Luckily we had all the correct gear with us: two phones with the flash tuned on. Inside there was some very nice, all natural air con. Much heather than the synthetic air con that we have all gotten used to in our modern society. There were also some bats that were rather squeaky, probably cos we had just woken them. After a little streamway that involved some stooping it opened out into a pretty big chamber that had a very large aven in the roof. It was so high that we couldn’t see the top with our caving phone torches. So we stopped to take a photo and started to carry on. But as the roof was quite high and our incredibly light-weight (some may even say non-existent) helmets would not really protect us from any falling rocks, we decided to head out.
￼￼After about an hour of more walking along the path we came out to the main road and hailed another passing free bus to the next touristy bit to find some lunch. After lunch we popped to McDonald’s® to get some ice-cream and air con.
Then we thought we should probably go and look at some stunning views, so we headed to “Giant Fossilized Tortoise”, apparently named as such because there is one somewhere. But going by the lack of one and many confused faces I don’t think it was there. Then we went to “Arranging Battles Platform”. It was here where we saw a rare sight, a queue! This queue was formed as the platform was very small, however, this was not actually a viewing platform despite the increasable view. It seamed that what you do when it’s your go is to turn your back to the view while your friend takes a photo, then, ensuring you still don’t actually look at the view, walk away. Obviously this was silly so we decided to enjoy the view a little when it was our turn, and actually look at it. This is very unusual here so someone, in a agitated voice, asked if we were ok and made it known that they were waiting to take there photo. It seemed the name of the viewing platform was rather fitting.
The aforementioned view in this area was different to the others as these pillars are limestone rather than quartzite sandstone. This meant that they were a lot thinner than the ones we had seen so far.
The next morning we had decided to go watch the sun rise at “Cock Peaking” as we had decided the day before that it had the best east facing view. So we got up at 0430 and headed down all the stairs. Once we arrived at the view point we sat. Listening to the sounds of the rainforest and the valley beneath us, the towers and the forest all started to come into view as it got brighter. You could hear the sounds of the macaques maybe a few hundred metres away. We hadn’t seen any so far but have been warned about them from numerous signs that said “Monkey infesting area, don’t tease monkeys food”. You could also hear the sounds of some birds calling each other as well as some other sounds. It was just like a recoding from planet earth. I almost expected to hear David Attenborough start to talk about some of it.
It turned out that this wasn’t the best place to see that sun rise as it was actually south facing, so a hill blocked the sun. However, it was an incredible view across the valley and the sounds of the rainforest waking up were completely worth it. As the line of the sun came down the right hand side of the valley, you could hear all the really loud insects turning on as soon as the sun hit. They drowned out any other sound, and were very impressive. This carried on as the line of the sun came across the valley to the right hand side. Was great.
For the rest of the day we went over to a bit we hadn’t seen yet. Trudging down some more steps, we heard a rustle in a near by bush. Yay, we finally found some macaques. They jumped about from tree to tree. They didn’t seem be in a mischievous mood, which meant that tom could get his camera out with out worrying that it would be stolen. And they even quite happily posed for some photos.
This bit lead down to “Wulong Village”. Here there was a one way route round a bit of hill with some dubious ladders up to “Tianbo Mansion” for another breath-taking view.
Then we went back up the stairs to get our bags from hostel and head out the national park and back to Zhangjiajie city. But we decided to go down a different way to the way we came up. This involved a free bus and then going down many many stairs along “Warrior Taming Horse” and then “Wolong Ridge”. All along the route there was lovely scenery. At the bottom of the stairs the path tuned into the 5.3 Km long “Ten-mile Natural Gallery”. Walking along this and then past “Herb Collecting Old Man” at the end of the path, we found a coach back to the city.