The Search for Enlightenment
A couple of mes amis were planning a road trip, or rail-trip rather, to see one of China’s most impressive scenic sights: The Yellow Mountain. Originally called the Black Mountain, it’s named was changed in the eight-hundredth century by Emperor Ming of Tang (or Tong, or Ting), after he believed the Yellow Emperor had found enlightenment here.
The World Heritage Site, known locally as Mount Huangshan, is based in Anhui province; it’s approximately 13 hours west by sleeper train. I tagged along and we set off late one night after work... perhaps, we’d find our enlightenment too.
Arriving at the foot of the yellow beast, we took a cable car up to somewhere near Cloud Dispelling Peak (each peak has a similarly thought-provoking title). Naturally, it started to rain.
We trekked for what seemed like a thousand miles. The steps continued for hours and hours until we were almost 6000ft above sea level. At one point, we narrowly escaped getting washed away as we walked up steps that were rapidly turning into a deadly waterfall. Following a trail of yellow ponchos, we weaved our way up like ants - keeping an eye out for something other than dense fog and grey granite.
Every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of tantalising views, teasing us as to what could be seen on a clear day. Mist rolled over the hilltops below us, appearing like slow-motion waves crushing over rocks in a fast-flowing stream.
Eventually, and without a single patch of dry clothing, we found our way to the hostel. After dumping our bags, Sarah and Thierry were about to head out once again to trek a little more. Spotting the stylish lobby bar, I figured it would be best for all concerned if I rested my weary legs, while researching their selection of beer, coffee and newspapers. A blogger’s work is never really done.
When the other (more-enlightened) explorers returned, we headed for food in the over-priced restaurant. Deciding we were going to wake up before daybreak to head up to the mountain top to see the highly acclaimed sunrise, we slopped off to our rooms for an early night.
As we were in shared room hostel, we had a bizarre soundtrack of six older gentlemen snoring as if in some kind of orchestra. Luckily I brought my ear plugs so I could join the ensemble without too much trouble.
Waking up around 4.30am, we headed off hoping to experience the Buddha’s Light - a halo-like phenomenon appearing in your silhouette. Up on the mountain top, it was fairly obvious we weren’t going to see shit. Shrugging it off and not feeling so enlightened, we headed back to catch a few more hours in bed.
I’m glad I went and certainly felt the adventure was time well spent. That said I was fairly pissed about the lack of scenery. On the rare occasions I hike for hours and hours uphill, the least I expect is some picturesque photos. Instead, I bought some postcards showing what we should have seen. Our search for enlightenment continues...
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Like the Memrise on a Warm & Sunny Day
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