Day 6 — Yellow Dragon Cave ...

6:59am seemed like a perfectly acceptable time for a HUGE marching band with drums and trumpets to be banging out the tune of happy birthday directly outside the guesthouse window. It continued until well after 9am. So much for sleeping in ... rather it was a 'two cups of coffee' kind of morning.

The weather was overcast and threatening rain. My knee was still sore but I had decided to trek on and ignore the pain. The two of us grabbed tea eggs and Youtiaos for breakfast and ate them on the 40-minute bus ride over to the Yellow Dragon Cave. The local bus cost 12RMB/59NT/CAN$2.19. After that, we hopped on the dirtiest bus ever, the number one, which cost 2RMB.

Things of note:

Although the cave is part of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the entrance fee is not included. The ticket was 103RMB/510NT/CAN$18.74 and totally worth it! Once inside, there is another section called the Labyrinth that costs an extra 15RMB — pay it! This part of the cave was one of the most impressive parts. I could only say 'wow, wow, wow' the whole way through. 

Unfortunately I couldn't get my flash to work (not sure why) so my images turned out a bit blurry. (see album on the sidebar)

The two of us spent three to four hours dawdling through this unbelievably impressive cave. It is no wonder UNESCO says it's the most beautiful cave in the world. Thankfully, it wasn't terribly busy, only in certain parts.

Again, our surroundings were out of this world yet people kept feeling the need to comment on the 'laowai' or foreigners. We noticed a lot of group tours where people were following someone with a microphone, head down, only to stop and look around when the guide told them to do so. It seemed such a shame and a waste of a mind blowing natural phenomenon.

The best part was going into the Labyrinth. Many were standing outside of the entrance, complaining about having to pay extra and fortunately, many refused. The two of us were the only ones down there and it was so quiet that we could hear ourselves breathe. It has got to be the quietest place in China.

On the way back on one of the local buses, some random passenger asked the bus driver to stop so she could pick up some fruit from one of the many tables selling fruit along the side of the road. She was picky about which three batches of grapes she wanted to buy and then began to price haggle, keeping the whole bus waiting for over five minutes. Really? WOW! Talk about selfish.

After getting back to Zhangjiajie City, the two of us ventured over to the train station to make arrangements to go back to Nanjing only to find out that it wasn't going to be easy. There were no plane tickets or train tickets so we were stuck booking a bus and then the high speed train. It was going to be at least a 15-hour journey back. We were stuck going first class on the high-speed train because there were no second-class tickets. Also we couldn't leave until Monday. Tickets going back on the high-speed train first class were 466RMB and the bus was 120RMB.

For dinner, we went back to the same restaurant as the night before. We ordered Kong Xin Cai and a beef teppanyaki style dish. It was spicy and delicious! As we were eating, I noticed that Dog Hot Pot was on the menu. Ugh.

What I did love about Zhangjiajie City was that the restaurants would clear the tables from inside and put them on the sidewalks outside. Most restaurants also set up small tables and hot plates that offered barbecued bits and bites. Everyone eats out on the busy, loud streets. It's great!

Knowing we were in for another day around the city of Zhangjiajie, we decided to end the night with a few cold beers. We weren't sure where the next day would take us but we decided it would be an easy day! 

Day 5 — Zhangjiajie National Forest Park ...

The day started off quite lazily. My knee was very sore so the first stop of the day was the pharmacy, where I purchased some medicine patches. I wasn't sure about hiking for the day, which bummed me out but as always, I decided to suck it up and walk it off. The weather was perfect, once again, and the day could not be wasted!

Best breakfast in Zhangjiajie
Food stall #4 was a guy selling homemade roti rolls for 7RMB/35NT/CAN$1.27. He added a fried egg and some spicy chicken that had been done up on a skewer BBQ style. It was simple but delicious. We went back looking for this guy over the next two mornings, but had no luck finding him again.

Tiny local restaurant #4 was for a quick lunch at the same place we had grabbed breakfast noodles the day prior. A little girl works there with her family and she is quite the server. She would make suggestions and once we decided on our order, she would recommend things that would compliment our meal. I had decided on delicious dumplings that came in hot, spicy soup. It was more than I could eat and only 6RMB!

We set out just after lunch and headed on a city bus (10RMB) for a 45-minute ride over to a quieter section of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. It starts in a beautiful forest with a variety of tall green trees that reminded me of the forests in British Columbia. There is a stream that we slowly walked along and although it was quite busy in this section, it was not nearly as busy as yesterday.

Things of note:

There were tons of wild moneys around these parts and flocks of magpies that looked very similar to the ones in Taiwan.

We hopped on a free bus that took us over to one of the other gondolas in the park. It is called 黃石寨 (Huang Shi Zhai) Cableway. Two ways was 118RMB/584NT/CAN$21.50. It was a quick ride up but absolutely stunning. This cable car goes in between the pinnacles ... so close that it seems one can put their hand outside the gondola and touch the pinnacles as you go by.

The walk around the top offered remarkable views and the best thing about it was that there were hardly any people up there including loud sellers. It made for an enjoyable, quiet walk in nature. This particular spot is away from the big expensive resorts, so perhaps people don't come over to this section?! Either way, there were zero complaints as we had the park to ourselves ... along with the monkeys!

Local restaurant #5 was on the main road near our guesthouse. We ordered a potato dish that is quite popular in China called Tu Dou Si. It was so good that I vowed to try it at other restaurants along the way. Taiwan needs to get on this dish and put it on their menus! We also ordered a beef dish with tons of spicy chilies. I was beginning to see that ALL of the food in China is amazing!

Dinner was followed by a couple of cold beers and an early bedtime. My knee needed rest as tomorrow would prove to be another day that involved a lot of walking! Sweet dreams were had of amazing adventures!