I was spending my break backpacking China with three friends from my university in Hong Kong. After an exciting train ride up from the South, we happened upon our first destination at last.
We arrived in the city of Zhangjiajie early in the morning, and spent a few hours in McDonalds using the WiFi to look for our hostel. Catching a cab, we arrived at an apartment building. We boarded an elevator which took us to the roof. Our home for the next few days was a wooden house on top of a building – very cool. Checking in and setting our things down, we rushed right back out of the door to avoid burning daylight.
Dominating the skyline was a cable car leading away from the city and into the mist. Not sure entirely where it was going, we decided to buy tickets for it. The Tianmen Shan cable car takes riders out of the city of Zhangjiajie and up the Tianmen Mountain, and is definitely the longest cable car ride I’ve had in my life. It just kept going up, and up, and up. Ascending through the clouds, we arrived at what we thought was the top, but it was only a halfway point. Huge mountains emerged from the mist as we were tugged onward and ever ever upward. The downward views were vertigo inducing, and the mountain sights were incredible, even with the thick cloud cover. After a 30 minute journey we arrived at the summit.
Our first stop on the mountain was the glass bridge we had heard so much about from other travellers. A path winding around the side of the mountain lead us to the “glass plank walkway” where we paid 10 Yuan to don special cloth covers for our shoes and walk out on a transparent platform. Without the mist it probably would have been even more impressive, but looking straight down the side of a cliff between your feet was still pretty terrifying.
The rest of our afternoon was spent exploring the rest of the summit. Winding trails carved the side of this mountain, and beautiful temples topped the highest peaks. We visited a lookout pavilion on the very top, and truly felt that we were on top of the world. The altitude made for cold, brisk air, and some good reflecting on our journey so far.
With the day dwindling, we headed back down the mountain and off to our next adventure… the Stairway to Heaven.