First time backpacking China (part 2)

part 2 of 2 (continuation of part 1)

June 12, 2015. A long journey.

Arrived Huaihua at 11:20 and thought that we would missed the train as the ticket to Zhangjiajie was scheduled at 11:30, found out train to Zhangjiajie is 14:00 and instructed to change ticket. Changed the time to 14:00 without extra charge, Arrived Zhangjiajie south train station at 17:00. Total of 17 hour travel time. :-/

a light meal on the train

14:00, depart to Zhangjiajie, arrive 18:00.

Searched for a hotel nearby the station and cable car, walk-in. Got one for ¥180 per night. Booked for 2 nights.

June 13, 2015. Avatar mountains

Wulingyuan scenic area, Zhangjiajie national park.

Bus station, is across the street from the hotel. Hop on bus to Wulingyuan. ¥10.

40 minutes travel time, arrived at entrance, and it was full of people. Amazing landscape at the background. Ticket ¥245 per-person valid for 4 days (including bus transfer within the park) Unfortunately, there’s no ticket for one day visit. The area is huge, divided into sections, go to the area that you want to visit there by shuttle bus. Bus will drop at which point you want to go.

area map for Huangshi village

“Huangshi village” Need to take the cable car to the peak, ¥180. Looking at the tourist guide map, the trail loops back to the cable car. Took few hours to walk around the area sight-seeing taking pictures but too bad for the foggy and rainy weathers so it was a little bit disappointing.

the landscape
‘Five fingers peak…’ 1..2..3…4..5…6…7…??

Following the walking trail and sign board, pretty easy as there are english written signs.

Overall a nice place to visit and sight-seeing. Started raining just when we were about to finish, and it gets even more foggy. A good advise is to visit here 2-3 days. (the tickets paid for anyway)

Back to town at 15:00.

June 14, 2015. The heavens gate.

Mt Tianmen

Walk to cable car station, 10 min from hotel. There was a really long line again at the ticket counter. ¥245 admission ticket. Then, line up again for the cable car up. Cable car took 20 minutes to reach the station so 8 people just waited viewing the scene. Not much to see because of the rain.
leaving for Mt Tianmen

#zhangjiajie #travel #china #backpacking #mountain

A post shared by wal (@walism_) on

#mountain #tianmen #travel #china #backpacking

A post shared by wal (@walism_) on

Walked with my poncho, took few pictures, some part of the walk was also very crowded. There are two trails, east and west, arranged for the walk so we would end up at the escalator to the “heavens gate” covering as much possible the loop. Pretty much the same as yesterday’s Wulingyuan, “Huangshi village”

it be scarier if not for the fog

Went down 14:50 via about 8 escalator(as remember) to “Tianmen’s heaven gate” then walk down the “999 steps” to the parking area where the buses are already waiting. It took two bus before we were back at the cable car station.

escalator down to heavens gate.

Pickup bags at the hotel and wait for the train bound for Changsha, 19:00, 11 hour trip, ¥175. Had a cup of coffee at e-Cino cafe. The best coffee had in days. Coffee is quite difficult to find, did not see many cafe or coffee shop.

Hot coffee after all the rain…

Boarded the train, sleeper coach, bunk beds of 6 per section, but not that much tired as there wasn’t much physical activity anyway these past few days.

bunk beds, not exactly first class but comfy enough for a nice rest… just ignore staring passer-by.
Train tickets, off to Beijing…!.

June 15, 2015 bullet train.

Arrived Changsha train station. 08:00. Search and found Changsha subway train to “Changsha south” train station. Bullet train G488 to Beijing. 11:00. The schedule for the trains in China is pretty much easily available online and by installing the China train apps.

its comfortable, nice and fun travelling at 300km/h

Arrived Beijing 17:00, instructions to Leo hostel was clear. In and out the subways, looked for directions and easily found the hostel somewhere south of Tiananmen Square, cool! Checked-in for 3 nights, settled in for a while and at night, explore the surrounding street.

June 16, 2015. three millennia of history


The hostel got good english staff and was quite pack but everybody was nice.

Thanks to them I got to “Badaling section of the great wall” too. Yeah, the walls, when in China, Beijing, just got to step your foot there right?

Now, the interesting story:

Route plan; subway station “dongshimen” bus station, bus number 877, “Badaling great wall”

Everything was easy, alight the subway, got to street level, scouted for the signage ‘bus station’ or what ever and noticed this ‘impossible to miss’ big metal sign pointing ‘great wall, bus 877’. Followed the arrow and after a few paces or so there’s this bus stop showing number 877 and some characters in mandarin.

There was a few others too, I was the only one not speaking mandarin, so I just waited and while waiting, this guy and some of his friends was kind of offering a ride to Badaling to everybody. To reassure myself, I reconfirmed with this young couple in line with me if this stop was going to Badaling and they said “yes”

After 20 minutes or so, the crowd seem to be getting smaller, and I wondered if they’ve have got another means of transport and I’d be left behind. Then my instinct kicked in.

I’ve realised that I’ve waited for the bus at the wrong place for 40 minutes! Some sticker at a road sign saying bus 877 stopping is actually part of a scam, it’s just a self-made sticker, anybody can print and glue it.

I left the spot, with the Chinese couple who seemed to realised as well, we went together walked further up in the direction as the arrow that I saw earlier on and just at the other corner the bus station was in sight, we boarded the bus, paid ¥12 and off to Badaling.

Badaling section great wall.

Arrived 40 mins later, off to the wall entrance, paid ¥40 admission fee, walk/climb up to the 8th north tower.

lots of people this part but it’s easy to go.

“Hello!” or “Hi!” said the young couple every time we crossed path, we were on our own pace. 🙂

Had enough photos said goodbye to the nice young couple (meet them on the way back) still taking pictures, very sweet and friendly, back by 14:50 to the drop off point. Bus ride 1 hour back to city.

Arrive bus stop in Beijing. Decided to walk back from Deshengmen to hostel with suunto navigation, 6.00 km. Feeling a little bit adventurous walking through the city.

walk back is more interesting.

Interesting walk, viewing Prince Gong palace, Behai park, Houhai lake, old mansions, old shops, Jingshan park, the Palace Museum high walls from the outside and not forgetting military and police personnel are just all over the place.

Beijing famous for its duck, plenty here.
and instant noodle is like the number two staple food.

Beijing, It’s either too touristy or too secluded. Lots of CCTV at Tiananmen area and the area surrounding the forbidden city, can’t help that strange feeling of being safe(?) or weary that someone’s somewhere out there… always watching. It makes me wonder what are they afraid of.

lots souvenirs for shoppers… glad I’m not a shopper.

June 17, 2015. A city within a city.

The Forbidden city (Palace Museum)

they don’t give this at ticket counters, so better get a copy somewhere.

Went to forbidden city, Palace Museum(that’s what it’s called) but anyway, the former emperor palace is a huge place.

The only down side is there’s too many people. But I guess I can’t blame them for being proud of it and they deserve to be anyway.

some displays within the palace. Not many but nice getting out from the sun.

Took almost an hour from Tiananmen metro station (CRT) through Tiananmen Square, lining up for tickets, ticket gate, crowds, passing security check points, getting frisked and all of that. But the ‘trip’ was worth it. (can’t imagine the situation at weekends or public holiday)

Glorious place, even after thousand of years, it is stills amazing. Dusted, old but still amazing!

the Hall of Supreme Harmony.

I took about few hours inside the compound before exiting the north gate. As of recently, they’ve implemented new rule to better regulate the tourist. Only 80000 per day and enter by south gate (Tiananmen square) exit the north only.

The compound is very big, easily more than three hours can go by. The size by itself is a wonder.

Learn that….

I was pretty much amazed by China, the urban landscape, rich and beautiful, nature sights are an amazement, the number of people always immense, their friendliness, although when trying to help is another different thing, but when they try, they really do so loudly.

It is not difficult when travelling China as it is kind of, tourist ‘friendly’ Most of the attraction are so efficient in handling mass number of people, it becomes too touristy even. Maybe because of the large number of visitors over the time. Most of the attractive places are well-informed and prepared on the website, Trips can be planned beforehand going on your own and even guides available almost anywhere.

The biggest challenge, apart from the horrendous public toilets, is communicating, language. Fortunately now, there’s a lot of apps, translators, available which by the way really helped this trip, apart from having someone who can speak a bit of mandarin.

Installing maps, using maps, GPS and the such, makes life a lot easier in China, GOOGLE do not work in china, so google map, gmail wont help much. Apple maps seems ok at that time 🙂

And last but not least, China might be the country with the most cctv installed….


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