Zhangjiajie, China, April 2019: Having made it all the way to the top of Tianmen Mountain one is again faced with the wrath of mass Chinese tourism. The noise is quite deafening, a ‘who can shout the loudest competition’ it feels like, here on the fast food plaza. Hot-dogs, spicy pizza and pot noodles on offer as lunchtime gets underway – so if one isn’t a fan of spice or artificial foods then options here are rather limited. Thankfully, I had the foresight of such a predicament and grabbed a few steamed buns from town this morning.
According to the tourist map, one can expect an easy hike on a plateau with some undulating terrain. Quite how long this will take can’t be determined right now, but since I came without time constraints, well, lets just roll with the good folk of China and see! One thing is abundantly clear though, they have no idea about the virtues of peace and tranquility, not here on the top of Tianmen Mountain!
Unfortunately the path I’d initially chosen to begin the Tianmen hike leads straight into thick clouds. Now, I’ve doubled back and will take the clockwise route where there appears to be less cloud and a few less people to. As one looks back then, a visual realisation at just how massive the Chinese mass tourism market really is as thousands tread the mountainside elevated walkways – path in the clouds!
So, having pounded the clockwise path for about 20 minutes, one is thankful that the clouds have dispersed revealing some of the below scenery, and just in time for the mountains most famous attraction, the glass bottom path – Tianmen Mountain Sky Walk.
The Tianmen Mountain Sky Walk is not recommended for persons of a weak or nervous disposition – seriously! Constructed onto the side of Tianmen with nothing below except 4500 feet of clear air, a few birds and some rocks at the bottom. Yes, for sufferers of vertigo I’d suggest an alternative path, and even I have to admit to a little nervousness as I tentatively approach the prospect of what if it all go’s horribly wrong! Before anyone steps onto the glass though, shoe covers are required at a cost of 60p for the pair then one can join in with the flow of natives, some of whom are extremely anxious. Its all pretty solid though, the glass fairly thick and once those first steps are taken the rest of it is plain sailing with some awesome scenery adding to the experience.
Next time… calm and tranquility returns to the mountain, Tianmen Shangri-La discovered