This weekend seemed to be a weekend about movies; from Avatar to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, China became alive. To start the trip off, I got to feel like I was in Harry Potter as I slept on an overnight train for the first time. I was surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed it! With the rocking of the train sending me to sleep, I was in heaven. When else do I get to have a sleepover on a train? The next morning we rolled out of bed and started our trip in the most undeveloped province of China, and for the first time I was actually in China.
The train station in Beijing!
Who would have thought that the most undeveloped province would be my favorite experience so far? The villages that we went to became alive with the history of China through the different dynasties. I saw the homes of the rich ranging back past the Ming Dynasty. Although they were beautiful, I wasn’t about to dish out my college fund to buy myself a home. I personally prefer more lighting, but the carvings were incredible and you could imagine the eight different wives of the owner working away in their own individual kitchens. We even got to go to a few ancestral halls, both of which were in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon! I can say with 100% conviction that I will be INCREDIBLY upset if something ever happens to these villages. I hope China never looses their history that these villages contain. It would be a travesty. Although the first day was one of the hottest days I have ever experienced, it was incredible and breath-taking. Besides, popsicles can always fix the heat!
In the ancestral hall that Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was filmed. I think I could be in the movie! I learned the art of Chinese flying martial arts. Think I make the cut?
On the second day we took the hike through the Yellow Mountains, also known as the place where Pandora from Avatar is based on. From what little I saw due to the overwhelming amount of fog, the Yellow Mountains are a natural wonder of the world. The other wonder on this mountain? The exorbitant amount of people. 太多人！ When hiking there were people. When standing in the cable car line, there was people. When taking pictures there was people. To get up to the top of the mountain it took us about an hour of standing in line to get on a bus. After that it was at least another hour of standing to get on the cable car. The way down was even worse. After hiking all day with feet that were in desperate need to sit down, we had to stand in the tightest packed crowd I have ever been in for 2 hours.. It is very possible that I started watching Bill and Ted’s Most Excellent Adventure to relieve the pain in my feet and distract myself. If you want to get an idea of how many people in your head then imagine Disneyland on the most crowded of days, now take all those people and shove them closely together for one ride. Apparently 1.5 million people go to the Yellow Mountains each year!
I don't think any words are necessary to describe how beautiful it was!
Aside from the people and the fog, I enjoyed this day tremendously. It was beautiful and I felt refreshed to be out in nature again. The highlights of the hike would have to be when the fog thinned momentarily a couple times in the day and I was able to realize the astonishing beauty in front of me. It definitely did look like the circle closest to Ehah on Pandora. If you haven’t seen Avatar you definitely need to. Stop reading this and go get it. I wish I could have seen more of the views; I am fully aware that I only saw a glimmer of the beauty that this mountain possesses.
On the final day we went to 3 more villages and saw more ancestral halls, old homes of the wealthy, and famous archways. I even walked down one of the oldest streets in Hufei. I am incredibly glad that I went on this trip. I finally got to see China the way that it should look without being dominated by Western values. (Although I did miss the International food!)