For those who don’t know Zhangjiajie are the mountains that Avatar was inspired by. They are the most spectacular mountains I have ever seen.
As my friend Cass and I who I have met travelling in China in 2013 set off from Kunming on the gruelling 20 hour hard sleeper trip we sat at the window seat and took in the scenery whiles eating our instant noodles.
We had booked a hostel a 40 minute taxi ride journey from Zhangjiajie city in a town called Wulingyuan. The hostel was called Wulingyuan Zhongtian International Youth Hostel and I beg anyone that values their sanity to NOT stay there. The place stank of mold and the rooms were horrible. The only reason we stayed there was because this was the only hostel in the area and it was close to the park entrance. The town of Wulingyuan is extremely boring with not much to do at all. I suggest you stay in the large city of Zhangjiajie and just get the bus in the morning to Wulingyuan.
We were the only people staying at this hostel apart from one other middle-aged Russian man.
The first day we were there it rained A LOT and I wasn’t that well prepared and so we got soaked. It was not fun continuing the hike, and so we called it a day after only walking 3 hours. We went back and moped around in the gloomy hostel being disappointed with the trip so far. After sitting in reception for a couple hours we decided to come up with a plan tomorrow to actually get something done. The next day we got up early and hiked all day. The way the park works is that you take a free bus around the mountains; there are different treks you can do. The bus system is fairly confusing so do make sure you get a map and do your research first.
After hiking the whole day and not looking forward to coming home we decided that we were going to go back to Zhangjiajie main city as we wanted to climb Tianmen mountain anyway. We booked a hostel which looked pretty decent, however, had no Western toilet. This didn’t really bother me though having already been more than two months in China. We hiked the whole of the next day and then got our bags and said goodbye to Wulingyuan.
As we had arrived in Zhangjiajie city at 4am we hadn’t really seen much of it and so when the bus dropped us off we were met by a bustling huge lively city and I have to say – hand on heart – that Zhangjiajie is one of my favourite cities in the world. We got to the hostel called Zhangjiajie Bajie Youth Hostel and already we could see a good lively crowd. We had made the correct decision to move. In the evening we went down a side street to a restaurant and ate some delicious food traditional to the province of Hunan where Zhangjiajie is. The only downside was the cockroaches crawling under the table next to me. Having been hardened by being in China too long I just ignored them and carried on eating thinking how on earth I had got to this point in life.
The next day we did one last hike in Wulingyuan which was the best day so far. We took the elevator up to the top of one of the mountain, paying the painful 80Y (£8) for a one-way ticket.
The lift took barley a few minutes until we reached the top and the views surely were spectacular. I managed to capture one of my favourite pictures ever by hiking along the top.