Travelogue: Huangshan Trip
By Jonathan Alpart
CRI, November 14, 2011
Chinese people have a saying: "When you see the five peaks of China, you'll never want to see another mountain again. But when you see Huangshan, you'll never even want to see the five peaks of China again". I learned this expression when I traveled to Huangshan, the Yellow Mountain, via bus. I also heard that Huangshan's beauty is so incredible; it has to be seen to be believed. Of course, I was skeptical; surely the tour guide was exaggerating!
The bus made its way up to the mountain. As we went, our tour guide explained the meaning of Huangshan Mountain -- why it's called "Yellow" Mountain? Was it something to do with yellow skin? Or is it because the color of the mountain is yellow? Of course, these theories are false. The real reason is the result of Chinese legend. The first Chinese king was known as the Yellow Emperor. All Chinese people claim to be descendants of this king. During his rule, he ascended all the peaks of China searching for the secret to immortality. After ascending the Yellow Mountain, he discovered the concoction of herbs that would allow him to live forever.
Huangshan is known for four things: rocks, hot springs, pine trees and its sea of clouds, all of which combine to create an amazing scene as you climb the mountain.
Our bus arrived at the foot of the mountain, from which point visitors can take a cable car. I enjoy skiing and have ridden cable cars many times before; however, this was a truly original ride. The cable car crossed many peaks, and at times I was quite scared. The height of the mountain was unlike anything I had experienced before. I had images of the cable snapping and me falling into oblivion. In order to keep calm, I tried to focus on the natural beauty of the area.
During the ride, the peaks were truly majestic. I felt as if some otherworldly painter had prepared these visions for me. No matter how high we climbed, rocks protruded from the ground as if dwarfing all of mankind. I quickly felt as if my simple existence had little meaning compared to the immortality of these timeless rocks.
The air was fresh and the sky was clear. Each time I looked across a peak I would see an endless quilt of clouds and trees and mountains. I was amazed at how high in the sky I was. I would occasionally stop to take a picture, and look up to see a faraway mountain peak eclipsed by a gorgeous sea of cotton wool clouds. Standing on the peak of Huangshan is almost like being in another world.
At noon, we attended a meeting with local officials in Huangshan. I was curious to learn what plans they had about the development of tourism in the province. I asked how they plan to attract tourists in the future. Zhejiang Province and Jiangsu Province, both very popular tourist destinations in their own right, are very close to Anhui -- how will they compete? The government official answered, invoking ancient Chinese poetry, saying that Anhui has much to offer in terms of history and natural beauty, not to mention the agreement they have with Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces for tourist development.
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