click on the pictures to see them full-sized
click on the link at the bottom to see a full photo album
Part 1 - Pandora
We took the train directly to the city of Zhang Jia Jie (张家界), a mid sized city in Western Hunan province that is surrounded by mountain ranges and is host to the famous Zhang Jia Jie National Forest Park. Our plan was to find our hostel tucked away inside the park and spend two days exploring the trails and ridiculously shaped mountains. Yes, these are the mountains that the Hallelujah Mountains of Pandora from the movie Avatar were inspired by. Looking at the peaks from above with a layer of fog and mist, it really did look like the mountains were floating just like in the movie. It was a great few days of extreme cold, no running water and mountain hiking.
Part 2 - The Village
We checked into our family run guest house and spent four days trekking mountain trails, eating local Hunanese food, enjoying the quaintness of the village and getting to know the locals. Daisy couldn't stop saying how much she loved being there while playing with the local children and their fireworks, dodging cows and their droppings and really relaxing. We were even "treated" to the annual Chinese New Year festival that brought 10,000 people from all over Hunan to the village for the day to eat, play games and celebrate their traditional Miao culture.
On our final night in De Hang, we went to our favorite little restaurant for dinner where we were now friends with the owners. As we were eating, we heard what sounded like a movie playing from the village square. We were also wondering why there we no kids running around. We finished eating and walked over to the square, where someone had set up a large screen and the locals were watching the new movie 'Confucious' starring Chow Yun Fat. Of the incredible things we saw on this trip, the scene in the picture below was my favorite. I realized that while the natural wonders of this earth are awe-inspiring, its the people of and the communities that we build that are the most lasting. What the people in that village have is true community and it was beautiful and heartwarming to see.
So, we're back in the Hai after a tiring, cold, dirty (none of us showered the entire trip) and totally satisfying trip. As Beverly put it, it made her "fall in love all over again with rural China, reading, and train travel."
If you'd like to hear more about our trip, feel free to ask us anytime, or you can just take a look at the pictures (fully captioned!) here: HUNAN 2010 PICTURE ALBUM
Response to comments:
Lin - Pictures are there for ur viewing pleasure. Why live vicariously? Come back to Asia.
Eric - which eric is this? And yes, we were in Pandora.