zhangjiajie

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Oh man, I haven’t written in a while. This post has been LONG overdue. I wasn’t able to put all the photos I wanted on here because of lack of good internet connection and speed, but I just gave up. These past couple of weeks have busy. China has a national holiday where we are off for a week of school. I went with five other Americans to Zhangjiajie. Zhangjiajie is best known for the National Forest Park, The Grand Canyon Glass Bridge (longest and highest glass bottom bridge, Tianmen Mountain (longest cableway in the world, 99 bends, the cliff-hanging walkway, the glass sky walk, and Tianmen Cave), Hallelujah Mountain (the inspiration for the movie Avatar), and Yellow Dragon Cave. Let me start from the beginning though, because it was an interesting journey getting there.

For some reason when we have holiday we have to make up a day of classes. The first Sunday of our holiday we had to make up our Friday classes. I told my students I was sad we had to be in class, but they just watched videos about to learn more about American culture. They seemed to enjoy it for the most part. After class Sunday, we were heading to Guanggu. Katrina and I were meeting Allie, Zee, Michael, and Patty there to spend the night. We had an early train ticket the next morning. When we got to Guanggu Sunday night we realized we couldn’t reserve a Didi (chinese Uber) for the next morning. There were so many people travelling.

We decided to go to the train station, and stay the night there. When we arrived at the train station we were waiting in the McDonald’s until they kicked us out. Apparently the entire train station closes at night. We slept outside the train station all night long, and none of us brought anything warm to wear. We were using our towels as blankets. It was miserable and cold. Monday morning when we finally got on the train we were very excited. We went on a fast train for 1.5 hours. Fast trains are very clean and modern.

After the 1.5 hours, we had to wait six hours for our next train. We stayed at a Starbucks to wait. We tried to get rest, but nothing was comfortable. We had a very rude awakening when we got on the slow train. People were smoking and spitting on the train. Some people did not buy seats so there were many people standing in the aisles. The seats were set up like booths facing each other, and we had zero leg space. It was more miserable than sleeping outside the train station all night. All of the girls got sick.

Luckily we stayed at a hostel where we didn’t have to be with strangers. Honestly though, we were never at the hostel. Every day we woke up really early and came back later in the night. We were busy every day.

Here’s our schedule:

Sunday

  • Make up classes

  • Go to Guanggu

  • Played cards with Vaughn outside of the metro

  • Went to the train station

  • Slept outside of the train station

Monday

  • Took a fast train

  • Waited at Starbucks for 6 hours

  • Took a slow train for 4.5 hours to Zhangjiajie

Tuesday

  • Got sick

  • Explored the city

  • Went to a park with lots of stairs

Wednesday

  • Went to the Glass Bridge at the Grand Canyon

  • Went to Yellow Dragon Cave

  • Made French friends

  • Zee blocked tons of Chinese people from getting on the last bus

Thursday

  • Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

  • Hallelujah Mountain (184 flights of stairs)

Friday

  • Maybe Tianmen Mountain?? I don’t know. All of the mountains started to look the same.

  • Mike found his gimbal

  • Massages (there were actual tears shed)

Saturday

  • 99 Bends

  • Stairway to Heaven

Sunday

  • 10 hour slow train

  • Worst phone service

  • DiDi never came

  • Motorcycle man helped us get a taxi

  • Got on campus at 2 a.m. and had an 8 a.m. class the next morning

I learned a lot about travelling and Chinese culture through this trip. When we were hiking up the mountains I felt like I was dying, and 90 year old grandmas were booking it past me. I now understand why some Chinese people are so excited when they see foreigners. It was fun getting to meet other foreigners, because we don’t have many in our city. I also learned I should definitely try to learn Chinese soon, because all Chinese people think I am all my friends’ translator. This holiday was a memorable one for sure.

Abigail Cooper