It all started here...

It all started here...

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Huang Long Dong (Yellow Dragon Cave), Zhangjiajie

Ctourus -- 7-day Tour of Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China 
Day 7 - Huang Long Dong, November 12, 2017

Our last day on this tour and still had half a day of sight seeing before the long bus ride back to Changsha. As usual, we checked out of the hotel before 8 and then on our way to one more shopping stop, the jade and pearl store. It turned out that this was also at the same compound as the silk shop that we were at the other day, except that this one is in the back of the compound. It was kind of comical as we watched and followed through with their presentations. 

Huang Long Dong (Yellow Dragon Cave) 黃龍洞
After the jewelry store we arrived at the Huang Long Dong (Yellow Dragon Cave) which is not that far from town. It is now much prettier than our last visit here just a few years back. The whole area was very well designed with easier access to the cave. Instead of just a cave entrance with steep steps near the parking lot, it now has a huge park that gently leads to the cave. 

Crossing the bridge between the parking lot and the park.

Hmm... a monkey holding a skeleton.

Waiting to get on the electric tram...

or whatever you may call carts? Very nice though, saved us the long walk from the entrance to the cave.

I was sitting at the back of the cart, facing backward, so a few quick snaps on the camera got me these photos as we drove around.

Most other tourists were walking on the other side of the park.

Finally got off and did our share of walking.

Very pretty!

Some old wooden water mills.

We were taken to a 'well' to see the old salamander.

Taking turns to see the salamander at the well.

By the way, we had a private guide from the park taking our group through the cave.

Wall near the entrance of the cave.

A small entrance...

to a large cave. That was our guide in tribal costume.

The colorful lights inside the cave made it less natural but more colorful and not as boring.

This could very well be the largest cave in China if not the world.

With boat rides inside.

Quite fascinating! It was hard to imagine that we were actually underground, inside a cave floating on water. We had to go up and down some slippery steps which means that there are different levels inside the cave. I had to hang on to the railings as we walk because of the wet and slippery steps. Other than that, it was almost like having a Disneyland ride. Fun!

After the cave, we had to walk through the park back to the entrance.
Statue of Lu Yu, the tea saint.

As we walked back to the parking lot, we had to go through these stalls of vendors selling all kinds of souvenirs and snacks. Hard to resist not to buy some.

Lunch was next and then we started our journey back to Changsha around 1:00. After about an hour and a half we stopped at this very busy rest area for a break. This was the first and only stop that I have seen where an all-you-can-eat restaurant was available and it only cost $30 RMB. Seemed like there were many choices but I really did not get close for a good look.

A snack bar on the opposite side. There was a very busy convenient store on the right also.

Took this picture on the stairs that leads to the 2nd floor of the building where less busy restrooms were available.

Now I have no idea where we had dinner that day, but we were taken to the same hotel (Dolton International) in Changsha for the night. We liked this hotel and it was nice spending our last night in the city at this familiar hotel. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bao Feng Lake and the 'Grand Canyon' Glass Bridge

Ctourus -- 7-day Tour of Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China 
Day 6 - Wulingyuan of Zhangjiajie, November 11, 2017

We started off our day with a visit to the silk factory in the morning right after breakfast. And, yes, we bought another silk comforter and sheet set even though we still have two other sets sitting in our closet at home, not even opened yet. We felt obligated to buy something on this kind of trip and thought we might as well get something that is practical. In fact, we were prepared and did not mind spending money that we felt comfortable and cost effective. 

Bao Feng Lake
After the silk factory stop, we were taken to Bao Feng Lake nearby. Bao Feng Lake is a fresh water lake in the Wulingyuan scenic area surrounded by beautiful mountains and calm waterways. Surprisingly enough, we were taken straight to the boat dock on the tour bus instead of hiking up the narrow path like our last time here. I remember it was a tedious hike and I really did not want to go through that again. Thank goodness for the well-paved highway that is now built and in use. So there is a choice now, you can either hike up or drive up. 

Arriving at the boat dock.

Boarding the beautifully decorated tour boat. This boat was able to hold two tour groups, one on each side.

Leaving the boat dock.

The young female tour guide on the boat in the middle with the two photographers from the two tour groups. She was able to provide fun and entertaining descriptions as we enjoyed the beautiful sights.

Getting to one of the 'song boat' where young Tu Tribe man or woman sings their 'love songs' to tourists passing by.

This first one was a guy and he sang quite well albeit a little too short.

This second one had a Tu girl. I believe they were suppose to be love songs that express their admiration and love towards each other.

It didn't take long for us to be back at the boat dock.

Now that we are back at the entrance, I could see the path where we took the hike up on our last trip here. Actually this was the easy part until we hit the mountainous steps. So glad we did not have to do that this time around.

The waterfall near the entrance.

After lunch back in town, we were taken to a foot-massage stop. I generally do not like to participate in massage sessions of any kind even when it is offered free of charge like this one. I just don't like people touching me, period! When we went on other tours, we had no problem sitting in the back of the room and listen to their sales pitch while others enjoy their foot-massage. With a kidney transplant patient and a couple of people who had strokes in the past in our group, we really did not want to join in this massage session. Who knows what they will trigger if they hit certain pressure point by mistakes? Especially right after lunch. We all know that you are not suppose to do any kind of massage after a full stomach. Several of us declined the free service but still went inside for the presentation. We knew what to expect so nothing came as a surprise as they presented us with different herbs and ointments for sale. To tell the truth, if I have a physical condition, I would consult an educated, experienced, highly-qualified physicians that I can trust and not just any Tibetan doctors off the street. This was exactly the case here. They tried to convince us that we need their special medicines to 'fix' our problems. Oh well, sorry! Then, the real surprise hit us when we got back on the bus. Our tour guide Jacky threw a fit and got really upset. He said that he was really 'unhappy' that we did not participate in the foot-massage and that he had to pay out of his pocket for the money lost. We were all dumb-found by his change of attitude but we did not want to argue with him there and then. So the rest of the afternoon became quite awkward after this episode even though we all tried to pretend nothing had happened.

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and the Glass Bridge
Supposedly, this glass bridge strung across the canyon is the longest glass-bottom bridge in the world.
It was opened to the public on August 20, 2016, so it's just a little over a year old. It measures 430 meters in total length and 6 meters in breadth, and is suspended about 260 meters above the ground. It is such an interesting sight that both local and foreign tourists were attracted by it. 

When we got there, we were told that we need to stay together, in line, and not let anyone cut. It was pretty crazy with massive lines in every directions. People would try their best to cut and even make new lines on their own. Fortunately, they were caught in time by the people in charge and sent them back where they should be. 

After the long wait snaking through the line, we finally picked up a pair of shoe protectors and were able to walk on the bridge, in the rain.

Long lines waiting to get on the bridge inside the big hall. The lines continued outside and then into another building.

The Glass Bridge over the canyon. It wasn't as scary as I had expected.

I assume that it will be more 'exciting' if the weather was better and that we could see through the glass panels.

Looking down at the 'Grand Canyon'.

Right underneath.

Oh yeah, and they were selling those red ponchos for $30 RMB.

Quite an amazing architecture.

After a few photos, we were done and walked back to meet the others at the parking lot. It just bothered me a lot the way Jacky reacted after the foot-massage session. It will eat me up if I didn't get it out of my system. When they dropped us back at the hotel, I pulled him aside and asked to speak with him in private as we got off the bus which later also joined by my brothers and my husband. I told him that he had no reasons to talk to us in such manner and that we have cooperated with him in every aspects on this tour including buying at the different shopping stops. This foot-massage thing to me is a medical behavior where direct physical contacts are involved. We should have the rights to say no to anything that involves someone touching any parts of our body as a medical procedure. The main thing was that he did not explain to us beforehand that we 'must' participate. It would be too late if something happened to anyone of us because of the massage. After a lengthy talk, he kind of backed off and apologized. Later on, those of us who did not participate gave him back the money that he said had to pay out of his own pocket to make up the loss. He had been OK on this tour except this incident. Until this day I don't know if this has anything to do with what happened to us two days later. That part of the story will come soon.

We decided to take a walk around town that evening after dinner. It was raining on and off the whole evening, but we had fun walking around this small town and did a little souvenir shopping before calling it a day.

Tomorrow we will be going back to Changsha.