Tuesday, June 22, 2010

China: Huangshan (Yellow Mountain)

I've been bad at updating because how busy classes have kept me. I had an exam yesterday (Monday) and next week I have a crazy amount of things due: 1 paper, 1 exam, 2 presentations and 2 problem sets!

Anyways - on to talking about what i did LAST weekend at Huangshan!

So they day before hiking up 7000+ steps to the top of Huangshan, we went to 9 Dragon Waterfall. It was a good hour walk, and very beautiful. The air was really refreshing after being in the city for three weeks.

The next day, we walked up the steps! It took me ~3 hours. I believe some people made it in 2.5 but they were going pretty fast at the start. I decided to take it nice and steady so I wouldn't be dead at the top. It was raining on and off the whole walk up - but it ended up feeling nice caused I never got extremely hot (except at the start when I still had my raincoat on). Only bad thing about the rain is I was soaking at the top, so the moment I stopped moving the shivering began.

Here are some pictures from the hike up:

Once we got to the top, we ate lunch at a hotel. I think I ate the largest serving of rice that I've ever had in my life. We then finally made it to the hostel...

And that is where that lovely picture I posted in the previous entry comes in. I wont post it again - I'll keep the pictures in this post following my usual guideline of only posting pretty ones.

The room the girls was supposed to stay in was COVERED in black mold. If you know me at all, I'm a super mold detector - I can tell if there is mold in the room when you can't see it, mostly because it makes me feel really uncomfortable... and there I was standing in a room where the mold visibly covered the walls. I got a sore throat from only being in there for a maximum of two minutes!

The guys room was on the 3rd floor, and still had a musty smell but the walls were actually white(ish) and not moldy. I refused to sleep in the moldy room of death and despair, so I asked the guys if they'd make room for me somewhere so i wouldnt die in my sleep from mold. I ended up sleeping in the middle of two twin bunks pushed together between two guys. It was a long uncomfortable night (by "bunks" I mean plywood), but it was definitely better than if i stayed in the other room

I would never think I'd find a room of 14 guys to be more comfortable than a room of girls!

Here is my blog assignment entry about Huangshan


Stairs have always been my weakness. I love hiking and exploring outside, but point out some stairs in my path and I know I will be out of breath after only 30 of them – I’ll blame my short legs so I don’t sound like such a wimp. When I heard that the hike up Huangshan was entirely stairs, my heart dropped a little. I was excited to be hiking up a mountain, but how could I make it up 7000 stairs when I hate even walking up four flights of stairs to get to class?

The day before the 7000-stair “hike”, we went to Nine Dragon Waterfall. Everything about the hike to the waterfall was amazing – the smell of the air, the rocks, and the trees – it all was extremely refreshing after being in the busy streets of Hangzhou for three weeks. Near the end of the hike, however, there was a long progression of extremely steep stairs. I climbed them slowly, legs burning and gasping for air. I eventually made it to the top to take in the beautiful view, but I couldn’t help thinking about how doomed I was if the stairs up Huangshan were that steep.

The morning of the 7000 stairs final came – I was geared up with my raincoat on and some snacks, a change of clothes and water in my backpack. It was raining as we started our hike up, but I didn’t mind because after 15 minutes I was roasting in my raincoat. I decided to tie my coat to my backpack so it’d stay dry, even though it meant I’d get wet.

Emily, Ben, Tou and I all ended up walking up together, eventually joined by Will and Jack closer to the top. We took it at a nice steady pace, taking our time to look at the foggy mountain peaks around us and resting to catch our breath when we needed to.

Throughout the entire hike, walking up beside us were porters caring insane loads up the mountain on their backs. To illustrate their effort – I saw one of them carrying two full propane tanks up the mountain, in addition to two full bags! Watching them carry up these huge loads made me wonder why they didn’t use the cable cars that went up the mountain. The only reasoning I could come up with is that the price of the porters labor was less expensive than using the cable cars – something you definitely wouldn’t see in the US.

We finally made it to the top, after three hours of climbing stairs. I definitely felt like the stair master and was impressed that I still had energy – though that energy quickly went into shivering. The climb definitely wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. I was very surprise, however, on the amount people actually making the hike up. There were massive crowds – so big that going down the mountain was very difficult because you’d hit human traffic jams. You would never see so many people on the top of a mountain like that in the US.

Although I got rained on for two days,  had to sleep in a room of 14 guys to avoid a moldy room of death and despair, and my legs are still sore from the hike down, I am still glad I made the hike. In the end, I still have a unique experience, good and bad, to tell people about. I might as well make the most of it!


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