huang shan Travel Blog› entry 114 of 117 › view all entries
I was pleased that Dragon had kept to form and given half the new people in our group a new name: Scott became Scout, Shelly is now Shirley and Kal is now Cow.
After a short journey by bus, we were in the base for the Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain), Tangkou. The Yellow Mountain consists of 72 peaks and was the location used to shoot scenes for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
It now seems a bit naive that we were on the road for 5:30 to beat the crowds. It turns out there was an estimated 30,000 people climbing the mountain that day so it wasn't surprising that the ascent was staggered at best. To be honest, the Chinese were at their exhasperating best: spitting, pushing in, littering, blasting out loud music and travelling in massive tour groups with leaders who shout down far-too-loud megaphones.
But what the Chinese lack in brains, they make up in fitness. I was quite impressed by how fit they are - especially the porters, who have to carry up heavy foodstuffs, drink cartons and mountain maintenance materials hung either side of a plank of wood on their shoulder - often between six and ten kilometres of solid uphill steps while people (brainlessly) dart in and out of their load.
After an intense climb up the eastern steps (supposedly easier than the western ones), we hit the top, from where you could choose you own route to see different peaks around the summit.
Although misty at times and in certain places, this made some of the views a little bit more breathtaking, with peaks popping out of a sea of cloud. It was also at this point that you could often get away from a large part of the crowd. It didn't last long, mind, as just as you thought you were free from it all, you hit a traffic jam of stupid coloured hats and loudspeakers and curse the path that you chose.
After about eight hours of checking out some of the viewpoints at different peaks, it was time to descend. It was hard work on the knees - harder than the Great Wall - but it was probably my favourite landscape I had seen while in China. Worth the hard work climbing - and the even harder work with the crowds.
We had a morning to kill the next day, so chartered a couple of minibuses to take us to Enamel Gorge, a peaceful park area where more scenes from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were shot. It was as shocking as it was welcome to find a public attraction not overrun by Chinese, and made for a peaceful morning before heading back to busy Shanghai.