This is a mountain near the the Chinese city of Xi’an. An unplanned impromptu trip lead to a great cultural experience, some new friends and very achy legs! Photos are on Flickr.
After a thrilling two days exploring 西安, visiting the Muslim quarter, the Terracotta Army and cycling around the city walls, I decided to head for 华山 as recommended by a friend of mine.
Monday afternoon I depart Xi’an train station for the famous, Hua Shan with some new Chinese friends!
We entered the mountain gates around 19.30 on Monday evening and began the long walk to the top, up very steep steps with treacherous falls on each side, surrounded by thousands of other people eager to see the sunrise (only in China). Very slowly we shuffled our way to the top, one step at a time.
We arrived at the East Peak summit and 3am, a gruelling 7 hours later. This left us enough time to curl up on the freezing cold ground for a couple of hours much needed rest.
We were able to celebrate China’s National Day by watching the sunrise from the east peak around 6am. I felt really privileged to experience this moment and very important part of Chinese culture.
The following morning, we took a few groups photos and I parted ways with my new friends as they had an earlier train to catch.
This morning, I was greeted with clear skies. Once the crowds had parted I headed off to explore the South and West peaks by myself. I got talking to many other people as I wondered around, many of them amazed to so see a lone foreigner exploring and eager to know how I discovered this place. I caught sight of one other European face during the day and on my decent made friends with a couple of Americans on a day trip.
Around 2pm I received a message from my friends saying that it took them 6 hours to get off the mountain. At this point I had been sat still for an hour in a long que. It was another hour before we started moving. All in all it also took me 6 hours to get off the mountain. Everyone that went up had to come down a day later, exhausted and sleep deprived.
Although I got to see all sides of the mountain, when I got to the bottom I discovered I had descended to the other side of the North peak I started from, and had to do the 7km walk out of the park because the buses had all broken down.
By the time I exited the park it was 8pm, a full 24 hours later. This was an exhausting expedition and my legs took almost a week to recover from all the steps, but it was well worth it, to see the ‘nature documentary’ sunrise with thousands of Chinese people all celebrating National Day, a once in a lifetime experience.