“He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.” — Chinese proverb
Travelling in China is somewhat of a mystery to many people. While mega cities like Beijing and Shanghai are often visited, a place like Zhangjiajie and other less developed areas in China are somewhat of a curious and strange place.
In travelling these past several weeks I have gained a new appreciation for China’s stunning sights, both natural and man made (mostly natural). China is a huge country of diverse sights and landscapes – from deserts to tropical like weather in the south.
At the same time, I came across many challenges and frustrations that I don’t want to overlook if I were to consider revisiting the country. Crowds are hard to avoid and development is only starting to catch up to the large numbers of tourists.
I continue to include photos of the pillar like landscapes because it truly fascinates me. The “pillars” are the product of years and years of physical erosion. What’s interesting is how the forests and foliage continues to grow around the pillars, the major reason is due to the moist climate. These formations are a distinct hallmark of Chinese landscape, and can be found in many ancient Chinese paintings.
Many monkeys climb around the trees. They are always eating crackers and whatever else the tourists feed them. It’s upsetting to see them so used to humans, but they are generally friendly.
I spent one of my favourite afternoons walking along the Golden Whip Steam in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. While I read several reviews that said this hike was “not worth it” or “too long”. I found everything about this walk incredibly peaceful.
The trail following the river stream is about 7-8 kilometres in length. What I loved most about the hike is that you have a different perspective of the peaks and if feels like “walking among the giants” as some described it. You could experience rushing beautiful scenery of forest and water.
And the further you hiked into the trail, there were less and less people. At one point it felt like I was in the forest alone. I felt myself immerse more fully into nature (and it was magical!)
The following morning our group went Baofeng Lake. There is a harmonious blend of mountains and water here, and the mountain peaks flow seamlessly into the body of water. Lush green shrubs surround the emerald waters. Boats carry passengers on an half an hour ride to observe and experience these landscapes.
I’ve realized that there is always peace to be found in nature. Even with crowds, even with noise, there is something much greater about the flow of a waterfall, the grandeur of the karst peaks, the calmness of the lake… I hope I find myself regularly overwhelmed by nature.