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Journey with Alex Soh... Day 24: Mt. Huangshan

Posted on Nov 20, 2009 in Journey with Alex Soh

Woke up real early this morning and was glad to see that the snow hasn't stopped. Got on the 6.15am bus as planned and I couldn't be more excited about the day ahead! At the foot of Mt. Huangshan, there are cable cars on both sides but as the park has closed down the one on the left due to the heavy snow, the snaking queue for the cable cars was just too much for me and I decided that walking my way up the mountain would be the best solution for me to get away from the crowd.

Seeing that I was opting out of the cable car ride, the guys at the ticketing booth kept asking me if I'm sure I want to walk in this weather and without hesitation, I said yes. Ha! I think I'm asking for it. I paid the 13 RMB bus fare and 230 RMB for the entrance to the mountain and geared myself up for the long hike. The hike was crazy - the steps were full of snow and so slippery!

At one point, it got kind of dangerous but undeterred, I kept on climbing and I knew it was all worth it the moment I saw this...

The clouds were beginning to open up and the sight was simply so beautiful; in my heart I knew that this shot is going to publish a few million copies! To me, what makes for a great shot is that one defining moment when you get so excited about what lies in front of your eyes and what you're about to capture on your camera.

It was at this time that I met a guy who is making his descent from that route, telling me that the road ahead has been closed and there's nowhere else to go but downhill. What this means is that I now have to backtrack and spend another four hours getting to the foot of the mountain and then start all over again from the split road, which is about 1km from the entrance. As disappointing as it is, I must admit that my efforts have not been wasted at all because that first route brought me to the most beautiful and breathtaking sights I've seen!

So down I went and then took another four hours climbing up the other route and by the time I covered about ¾ of the mountain, it was already 6.30pm - dark and cold. But I got to witness the glorious sunset, which was an unbelievable experience when you're seeing it from above the clouds at about 1500 meters high.

I managed to locate a hostel on the mountain and was quoted 700 RMB for a room but I told the guy at the hostel that I'm just a backpacker and all I needed was a bed for the night, so I didn't mind sharing a room with others. In the end, I only had to pay 150 RMB for a bed but since it isn't a peak season for travellers now, I basically still got to enjoy a whole room to myself. This being a tourist spot, things on the mountain are generally expensive, but I'm happy to think I've gotten quite a good deal on accommodation.

Having climbed more than 12km for the past 11 hours, I was totally exhausted at the end of the day! Capturing beautiful landscapes don't come easy, as I have learnt from my many travel adventures, so the next time you come across a beautiful picture, do take a moment to put yourself in the photographer's shoes and think about where he/she was standing when taking the shot and how he/she got there.

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