Yellow Mountain May 2006
Yellow Mountain, May 2006. Definitely one of the worst holidays I have ever been on. I was planning on staying in Shanghai over the May Day holiday. But Sue, my good friend from work, asked me if I would like to join a few of them for a short trip. Apparently it's only 6 hours away. All the acommodation is organised for us. What could be better? I'll tell you what could be better - staying in freakin' Shanghai!!
May 2nd. 6.30am
We met at People's Square, along with 4000000 other people, to board our tour bus and begin our journey. We had a fight on board the bus, before we had even begun to move. Apparently they had not over-booked the bus, but they had allocated two sets of tickets for seats 15 and 16. The fight was quick and vicious. Eventually the police were called and it was somehow settled. The highlight was the lady three seats away taking photos of the whole thing. I'd love to see her photolog.cn.
Yellow Mountain is supposed to be about 6 hours away in neighbouring Anhui province. But we were part of a Chinese tour group on a national holiday. Here, tours are always of the package variety. We made several stops between Shanghai and Yellow Mountain.
First we stopped at an unremarkable village:
Then we stopped at a lake/waterfall combination. These are my friends - Coco, Linda, Sue and Marlow.
We then stopped at a teashop. It was in a small town:
We did eventually arrive at our hotel, in a nice town at the base of the mountain.
May 3rd 5.45am Time to get up so we can go to the mountain. We board the bus. I am not happy. There is far too much bus travel, not enough sleep or Yellow Mountain.
It's a scorching hot day. After changing buses we go and have some lunch. The meal was awesome. But there was no way that I was climbing THIS after that meal...
Sue and I decided that we would take a fall for the group. We would catch the cablecar and take everyone's bags with us. The queue was long and dangerous. People were trying to sneak through everywhere. But we had super queue powers - we were about four people wide because of all the bags we were carrying. All it took was a subtle shift of weight and no-one could get through.
The worst offender proved that pushing in gets you nowhere. Despite her getting past us (I have no idea how), her group ended up in the same cable car as us.
This is as many bags as we could fit in the photo. Note we are both wearing backpacks too. Getting out of the narrow cablecar door was like a bullet leaving a gun, but in slow motion.
3pm We made it to the top of the mountain. Or at least the top of the cablecar. We then discovered that Yellow Mountain is actually a series of dramatic peaks and long winding trails. Our hotel lay three hours away along one of these trails. The scenery was beautiful. The crush of humanity was not. I was dreaming of a beach, somewhere along NSW north coast... away from cablecars, people and getting up before dawn.
May 4th 5.20am. Most people got up to see the sunrise from the top of Yellow Mountain. I slept in!!! I got up around 6am to see a barely risen sun. I was hoping to be back in Shanghai some time this evening - I had some pressing social engagements. All we had to do was get off this mountain and drive back home.
The queue to get into the cablecar back down was not as bad as the first queue. But it felt interminable. And there was another fight. I'm not sure what it was about. After getting up at 6am, we were off the mountain by 11.30. OK let's go people....? No, we had lunch first - that is cool. I like food....
Then we stopped at what we were told was an animal park. It had very few animals, but they did have a lot of miracle snake oil that they were selling. Here is an unhappy looking ostrich:
It was quite odd for a non-Chinese speaker. They ushered us off the bus and into a large lecture room, not too dissimilar to the tea room two days earlier. We sat down and they showed us several snakes, both alive and dead. And suddenly, on some hidden signal (it might have been in what they were saying) the room filled with masseuses with little stools. One of them started massaging my sore shoulder and then she applied the snake oil. It burned a little, like a balm. She offered to sell me some of this miracle cure but I declined her generous offer.
OK c'mon folks. Back on the bus, heading for Shanghai... driving driving.... and we stopped again. This time, at a temple. For 3 and a half hours. Struth, even my friends were getting frustrated at this point.
We finally made it back to Shanghai at 12.30am. I wanted another holiday :(
At one point I decided to try to capture the extent of humanity that was on the mountain that weekend:
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