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September, 2005
Trip to HuangShan, China with Gigi


In September, 2005, I went to Hong Kong and Shanghai to meet Gigi's family. I had met them once before, but this time I was going to meet all of her aunts, uncles, and cousins. These pictures documents our escape from the chaos of the huge family with multiple languages. Gigi and I went to HuangShan, also called Yellow Mountain. We took an overnight train there, spent the night at the top of the mountain, then hiked down and took another overnight train back. It was a great trip, but we both ended up being incredibly sore for several days.

Huang Shan Yellow Mountain city
On the way there, we had to transfer on a couple buses. This is a view of HuangShan from the last town we visited.


40 degrees steep steps
This is how steep the stairs are heading up to the top. It is about 40 degrees - very steep. So, Gigi and I decided that we would take the tram half way up (as far as it goes), which we are very glad we did. The hike would have been relatively boring and we got to do a much more fun hike since we had the energy.


Man carrying supplies up HuangShan
Because labor is so cheap in China, this is how most of the good are brought up to the top of the mountain. It made us feel bad when we were buying anything since we know that it was hand carried up and they didn't use the tram.


Monkey looking at a Sea of Clouds
Along the way, we stopped and took some small detours to see the fun scenery. This is called: "Monkey looking at a sea of clouds." We couldn't see the "Sea of clouds" in this picture, but the next one shows it.


mountain through a sea of clouds
Here is what is meant by the "Sea of clouds" - literally a sea. It looks like the hilltop is floating in the clouds.


Gigi looking at a beautiful view
Gigi taking in a majestic view of the mountains.


Kyle sitting on top of mountain
Kyle taking a break from too much walking. (He is starting to wonder if grad school is bad for his health since he isn't in as good of shape as he used to be.) Notice the walking stick - both Kyle and Gigi had one and it is probably the reason they could walk around and see as much as they did.


too many people show up to Yellow Mountain
Here are the massive crowds of people that were on the moutain. We went in the low season, but we could still see many people everywhere. Many of them came in tour groups with the person in charge holding a microphone and large speaker so you could hear them from across the mountain - very annoying.


Cliff path walk mountain climb china
After we checked into the hotel (yes, they have very nice hotels at the top), we set off on a grueling 5 hours hike down into a nearby valley. Yes, it does seem strange to take a tram up a mountain and then hike down into a valley. This was pretty close to the best part of the trip. Because of the grueling nature of the hike, not many people were on it. After we got about 30 minutes into it, we only saw three people until we came up the other side.


Cliff path looking at the mountains
Notice the paths that we were walking on. Much of the hike was on a concrete path that sticks up from the side of the mountain.


Gigi struggling up the many stairs
This one looked more stable, but it was very steep (this wasn't making Gigi too happy with it).


steep stairs at Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain)
But, she did enjoy looking out across the beatuiful scenery.


Kyle Gigi being cute in a valley at HuangShan
And, of course she was with me, so the trip was wonderful..... :)


path in cliff suspended on mountain freaky
When I came around the corner and saw this, it actually made my heart drop a little. This really scared me. I'm not generally scared of heights, but it might have been my lack of faith in Chinese engineering that freaked me out.


pretty view of Valley at HuangShan mountain
This was a view from the center of the path in the picture above.


Chinese construction engineering building
I would really like to know how they built these. The cliff goes down several hundred feet.


path through valley at sunset
All of this hiking was definitely worth it for the amazing views that we had.


essential necessary items to bring to HuangShan (Yellow Mountain) - flashlight
This is what happened to use at about 7:00pm on the way back from our valley hike. Remember this when hiking at night - always have a backup flashlight. We had spare batteries, but the bulb went out. We were about 20 minutes from hotel, but it took us about 45 minutes to get there. Do you notice what I am doing? Well, that is how we made it back to our hotel. We basically were blind and were using our walking sticks at canes. We got pretty good at finding up stairs, down stairs, and flat areas using only our haptic (touch - sorry, that is my lab studies) abilities. It was very scary at the time, but looking back, it was kind of fun and definitely a bonding experience.


Sea of clouds Yellow Huang Shan mountain
The next morning, we woke up early and watched the sun rise. It was beautiful. We got to see the "Sea of clouds" rolling in.

clouds morning sunrise
sunrise over mountain and clouds
When the sun rose, there was much cheering from the gathered crowds. Kind of funny.


Kyle Gigi being romantic during a sunrise
It would have been amazingly romantic except for the large number of people around us.


Gigi holding a fireball in her hands at sunrise
After some practice, Gigi learned how to control a giant ball of fire - kind of like in Kung Fu legends. Much of this trip reminded Gigi of the Kung Fu myths that she enjoys.


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