After the day “Door To Heaven” experience yesterday, we decided to involve a private tour guide for a 2-day trip around Zhangziajia National Park this time, to take us through the more exotic landscapes that this place has to offer. We were taken approximately 20 minutes out of town, to the national park where will be staying overnight as well.
Our tour guide is the lady on the far left. To be honest, I can’t even remember her name. But, she is a true ‘Tu Jia’ <???> ethnic minority, albeit a modern version. At least with my limited abilities, I can’t tell the difference between her and any usual Han Chinese. Most of her compatriots that still live on the mountains dress like this:
Like a true Chinese tour guide, she yaks far too much information for our little minds to absorb. Her accents didn’t help either. But hey, we saw lots of these on the mountain:
There are plenty of native monkeys around here, poaching food from tourists, and will scratch you if you don’t give them any. In my mind, I started to picture “Monkey God”, <???> when I saw this. Coupled with the ‘out-of-this-world’ valleys around here:
It started to remind me of the “Monkey God” series that always plays on Asian satellite TV. Indeed, our guide pointed out later that, the series was indeed shot here!!
We discovered later, that the landscapes used in Avatar (The movie) were also in fact, inspired by the valleys here at the Zhangjiajie National Park:
If only those valley float in mid-air like it does in Avatar!! 😛
The trails here are flat enough that most people can walk without getting too tired. Like most mountains in China, you will find ‘people carriers’ that take you around emperor style if you wish. They charge by the pound, so the heavier you are, the more expensive it is! I don’t even know why these ‘people carriers’ even bother waiting around here, since the paths are so flat. The fell asleep waiting for a customer!
Anyway, I thought the most interesting part of the day were the “Dragon King Cave” <???>. It’s a network of 15km long underground cave, with plenty of stalactites and stalagmites around. In fact, there’s plenty of these in Australia, but perhaps what is most impressive about this one is that it has some of THE LARGEST stalagmites/stalactites in the world!
The sheer size of these massive ‘posts’ are what makes it so impressive! The photo probably does not do justice to show just how big it really is!
Moving on, we also got a tour of the only remaining Tu-Jia ethnic minority village in the Zhangjiajie National Park. Keep in mind, this ‘National Park’ used to have lots of local Tu-Jia minorities living here. For the sake of tourism, villages were basically ‘destroyed’ and people relocated to town, to protect the national park from any damages.
Tu-Jia’s weirdest or should I say ‘interesting’ custom is probably the bride crying for a whole day before being married. And if you just can’t ‘cry’, you can even hire someone to cry to set the mood/scene! It’s apparently for the purpose of expressing sadness leaving her family and friends. A little extreme, don’t you think? I thought marriage was a happy matter!
There you go.. Zhangjiajie National Park.. both interesting above ground, and underground. Coupled with cute locals and monkeys, it is pretty hard to beat. If I only I had more time. Already, I have to move on to the next little town!