Zhangjiajie

 

Zhangjiajie is referred to by some locals as the "most beautiful place on Earth!" The locals definitely have an argument. Even pictures cannot possibly capture the very beautiful and majestic mountains, bamboo forests, green trees, amazing insects, intimidating monkeys, deep caverns, cable car rides, sedan chair rides, and quiet walks at the mountain peaks! Truly a magnificent part of the trip, Zhangjiajie did not disappoint us!

 

Complimenting the beautiful area was a 5 star hotel - the best that we'd seen up to that point. The local vegetarian food was unbelievable! Rivaling New Mexico's own Hatch chile, the Zhangjiajie area is known for their hot pepper dishes. There was red chile green beans, amazing green chile, tasty garlic dishes, baked tofu, scrumptious taro root, and many other exciting dishes. It was a New Mexican's dream come true!

The local government and media was very interested in our large visit and the Deputy Mayor of Zhangjiajie invited a handful of representatives to appear on Chinese Television to welcome and talk to our traveling group. Our representatives received gift baskets of Zhangjiajie programs and VCDs of the beautiful area.

The hotel gift shop had some nice things, but greedy Shao-Lin students rarely bargained for items making prices that much higher for the rest of us! But on the last day as Shao-Lin students made their way to the busses, the clerks were practically giving items away! Those who held out until the end were well rewarded with $15 scrolls that had previously sold for $80!

It is definitely a place not to be missed should anyone ever pass close to Zhangjiajie. Future plans to visit other parts of the massive rainforest have been talked about. It was by far one of the highlights of our 16 day visit to the Orient!



Zhangjiajie
was the greatest part of China Trip 2004! Hiking along the river of a tropical rainforest in China was a truly unforgettable and unique experience! It was China - raw China. The rainforest was so vast that even our gigantic group couldn't put a dent in it! Usually I don't enjoy hiking with more than a couple of people, but the enormous area of Zhangjiajie seemed to dwarf our entire group.


Lin Po Buddha

 

And when I heard about the Longevity Fountain located on one of the hiking trails, I knew that I had to drink from it myself! How could I have not? Against the recommendations of my companions, I filled my container with the unfiltered, untouched water, which came right out of the Earth! Truly longevity water! Some of the best water I'd had in my life! The locals insisted that a drink from the natural fountain would increase the life span of anyone who drank from it!

If only I'd had 5 more days in Zhangjiajie! I would liked to have been able to spontaneously hike through more of the beautiful forest. The clean air was a refreshing change from the strange, funky smell of Honk Kong, Qanzhou, and Chengde.

I'm looking forward to the next trip and more opportunities to see China so close up and personal! Perhaps a sacred mountain or a lost stream...

LESLIE PHILLIPS
Chinese Shao-Lin Center Albuquerque