Mount Huang Shan is one of the most highly recommended tourist attraction spots in China known for its famous four wonders, namely Strange Pines, Absurd Stones, Sea of Clouds and Hot springs. I am glad that I have checked that off my list as it is definitely one to go for!
My Huang Shan trip was truly a phenomenal and memorable experience that had me rejuvenated. The picturesque view of mountains over mountains was utterly magnificent and pleasing to one’s eye. Everything fell right into place during this 2-day trip, with the clear skies, fresh air, less crowd, cheaper deals and even catching a glimpse of a double rainbow, sunset and sunrise! I can continue reeling off the list of exquisite wonders that we experienced through this amazing trip! But most importantly it was the amalgamation of these wonders that made it simply extraordinary.
We started off our hike up at noon and the searing sun beat down upon our faces and on top of our heads as we ascent up. Along the way, we met some hikers who hiked up early in the morning to grasp the fresh air and were already making their way down.
We then chanced upon a couple who was seemingly afraid of going down as they said in their native language, “OMG I don’t dare to go down it’s so high up!” Hence I decided to look back and realized how high up we were! For those who are afraid of heights, this might be a little nerve-racking. The stairs were very steep, making it harder for those who were heading down compared to those making their way up since the view would be within our field of vision.
Here are a few shots of what it was like as we headed down from the peak. The flight of stairs down seemed almost perpendicular that we had to bend over while clambering down, lowering our center of gravity.
When we topped the peak, we could not hold back over excitement as we took a short clip of us screaming at the top of our lungs. Our voice reverberated into the mountains and echoes of our voices could be heard. It felt amazingly satisfying and a great sense of accomplishment!
Although it was a rigorous climb up the mountains to the peak, it was definitely worth the journey! We were awarded with a panoramic and tranquil view down from the top of the mountains over sea the clouds and into the land, which was absolutely ethereal! (We would never be able to experience this view in Singapore after a hike at Bukit Timah Hill!) What a refreshing sight it was!
After which, we had to make our way to the camp site before it got dark. Despite an arduous journey down from the peak, the view was spectacular! It was similar to seeing a painting brought to real life! Absolutely stunning and impressive. Furthermore, unexpectedly along the way, we were greeted by a double rainbow right after we left the peak! We were completely stoked, and many were screaming with enthusiasm! I was in utter disbelief at what was within my view of sight! What were the chances that we would actually see a rainbow and moreover a double!
Thereafter, we also caught a glimpse of the sunset. The warm rays of sunset shown over the mountains, showering them with an iridescent orange sheen which emanated a different form of aura, yet so glamorous!
As we inched closer to our destination, we could overhear festive musics being played from the hotel site which was right beside our camping grounds. The temperature of the weather began to fall rapidly as it started to get a little nippy with constant cool breeze.
Upon reaching our camp site, many had already pitched their tents and the area was almost packed. That was when we bumped into one of the group of hikers whom we met while hiking up the mountains and they offered to help us with our tent. We were genuinely grateful for their assistance due to our unfamiliarity in pitching tents.
Afterwards, we headed off for dinner. However, to our despair, we realized that there was no feasting area other than the restaurant in the hotel which was worth 140 yuan per meal! Being poor and thrifty university students, we decided to scrape the idea and head over to the convenient store to purchase snacks and water for our dinner instead. That was all that we ate that night considering that we wanted to minimize our expenditures. Nevertheless, it was a whole new encounter to simply live off snacks in our tent that night in the freezing cold weather. It was an unforgettable feeling of excitement as we slowly pried open our snacks one by one and laid it out for all of us to share. Subsequently, we held a mini conversation with that group of hikers and came to realize that they are from Hebei on a weekend vacation as a form of relaxation from work. That was when I realize that China is indeed REALLY big! (Whereas in Singapore, the furthest that we can travel would probably be from Tuas to Pasir Ris?) After a hearty meal and brief chitchat session, we called it a night and tucked ourselves in multiple layers of clothing since it was cold at 12 degrees or lower.
We woke up at 3am the very next morning and hurriedly packed up our bags and tents to catch the view of the sunrise at BaiShanTa which was one of the “must DOs” at Huang Shan. When we arrived, many were already hovering around the area trying to secure the “best spot” to acquire the most scenic view of the sunrise. Despite being early, the area where some claimed to have the best view was already congested. The waiting process was relatively torturous as the cold breeze constantly smacked us in our faces, making it feel all numb and sore. Everyone was clothed in thick multi-layered clothing for warmth and some were even wrapped in blankets and camping bags. (These can be viewed in the second video below.)
Thankfully we managed to clinch a spot by a corner as we sat down with our phones positioned, ready to capture a time-lapse of the sunrise. I chattered uncontrollably while gripping tightly onto my phone as my fingers turned numb with cold. (This resulted in my poorly filmed footage of the sunrise that was saved by my photogenic friend and hence the video below was stable.) After an onerous wait, when the sun finally rose, we all cried for joy. (I cannot help but deny I actually teared a little? That was the amount of satisfaction I received from the long suspension and much suffering.) We watched with unwavering gaze as the fiery red orb of light slowly rose from the horizon, spreading its magnificent rays of light everywhere. Gradually, the red ball of light changed to hues of orange, painting the sky with shades of red and orange. It was such a mesmerizing view that seemed like a work of art! Our efforts definitely did not go to waste and our hearts felt so contented, catching this majestic view of the sunrise! Furthermore, the crowd that came was massive and we were glad and relieved that we managed to secure a relatively good spot!
(Here is the time lapse of the sunrise)
(In this clip, it depicts the atmosphere after the sunrise.)
Thereafter, we camped in the hotel communing area for a good hour before bracing ourselves against the cold weather and headed down into the mountains. The view down the mountains were soothingly eye-catching, with more greens which felt more forest-like. The accompaniment of the clear fresh air also invigorated my morning hike that felt refreshing and beneficial especially since we had to wake up very early that morning. Also, the journey down was less difficult since it was through a different and easier route compared to the hike up yesterday. However, I noticed that there was a reversal in position this time. While many were making their way up, it got me thinking about how we had conquered our seemingly steep hike up onto the peak yesterday which felt so surreal!
Along the way down, we met the same group of kind-hearted hikers, whom also guided us down the mountains towards the cable car since we were uncertain about our route back. Without wanting anything in return, they have really assisted us a lot during this trip, making it more efficient and at ease especially in this foreign environment. We sincerely appreciated their goodwill as we thanked them earnestly before parting ways!
Nevertheless, I am so thankful for this breath-taking hike and especially for the outstanding company that resulted in the betterment of this trip. My heart felt so full after we left Huang Shan as it was such an unforgettable eye-opening experience! Unlike any other typical vacations that I have been to, this Huang Shan trip felt like a whole new experience. It was the combination of a sense of achievement, unforeseen circumstances, unexpected surprises, unfamiliarity and the multiple first-time experiences that made this entire trip felt so rewarding. Especially since we are situated in such a small country, I realize that there are so many more wonders out there in this world waiting for me to discover! This little jaunt of ours has fervently broadened my perspective about the world, and I definitely cannot wait to delve, discover and explore more!
Honestly, I would never have thought of going on a hike if not for my friends! Therefore, I would sincerely like to thank them for making this 2-day hike possible and for the incredible company with our non-stop bickering and laughter throughout our journey. Without them, it would not have been as fulfilling! As always, it is the good company that will illuminate a joyous and lively atmosphere, enlivening the experience! Huang Shan would definitely be one of those that will resurrect a sense of nostalgia as I look back into my memory lane. It is no doubt one of my most remarkable and wondrous recollections of my life and would be one of my greatest take away from my summer exchange to China.