Off on an adventure with Tia and Jeremy. Trying to find something called the Chinese Grand Canyon (Tianmu). We have no idea what this is supposed to look like. It sounded cool, so we're going to keep looking. Thinking back, an internet picture search might have been wise. What are we supposed to see? No idea when we actually get there. We've been stymied twice at closed entrances so far. It appears that the heavy rains in the last few weeks might have caused some erosion damage.
We got some rather awkward help due to poor phone app translation, but we were going to give it one last effort. We didn't start our day until around 11:00am and it took quite some time to get there. We might run out of time in our day. Our best guess is we jump back in the car and go to the other side of the big hill next to us. Only appears to be a ten minute drive. However, they have an electric vehicle. Currently it shows 56% battery. We still have to drive home. We're off in the wilderness and we're unsure if there's any charging stations near.
We soldier on. Using Apple maps I think I find the correct gate and talk Jeremy through the directions. We go around the hill and climb uphill through some switchbacks. A parking lot with some cars in it. Confidence is high. We grab some water and walk to a gate. There's a guard there who wants us to pay. It ends up being for parking, like a whole dollar. We still have no idea what we're in for or what costs might be associated. Whatever. We're all in. The view from this elevation looks promising.
We head into a building with a ticket booth and paid for entrance and a car ride. Car ride? Yeah. Pay for car. Car? Yes, you pay for car too. Umm. Okay. 110 RMB each. Sure, that's like $16 USD. Why not? The lady that took payment points that-a-way. We go that-a-way. There's a small blue bus. The dude inside greets us and apparently we're headed farther up the mountain. We're pretty high already. I guess we're going higher. On the bus ride we get some nice views down the valley where we came from.
The bus ride was only about ten minutes, but we keep gaining in elevation. We get out of the bus. Now what? Driver points that way up the road farther. We start walking up the road and notice what looks like a cable car system in the distance. It appears stationary, like it's not moving. Most be shut down.
Okay. We go that way anyway. The views are at this elevation look cool. There's a large waterfall off in the distance.
What's up here? Jeremy thinks there's a temple on top. Well, only one way to find out. We get to the cable car base station and it's operational. It's not moving because there's no one else up here. Just us and some employees. We go to pay for the cable car ride and it's apparent that there's a cost for the ride up and a separate cost to come back down. There was some uncertainty about paying for both directions all at once. 40 RMB up and only 30 RMB back down. About $10 USD for both directions combined. We go for it and the attendant loads us up.
Jeremy has some issues with heights, and I have to admit it looked a bit scary. Up up we go. Only two to a carriage. I get my own. There a few moments on the way up where I think "A fall from this height and I don't survive".
We arrive at the top. Turn around. Look back down from where we came.
Not bad. Hangzhou is relatively flat. We're up in the mountains now. Spectacular views up here. Sweet. Where next? Attendant points up a path. Hey. Question. How much time do we have? After a conversation with the attendant we calculate that we have about an hour before we need to be back down to the bus ride. That gives us about 30 minutes before we have to turn around. We figure we'll head up the next path for 30 minutes.
Sweet. Nature. Views. Waterfalls. All good, baby. Added bonus... as we're walking along this path we can hear some peaceful music with chanting. At first I'm thinking this is coming from a temple up above that we're waking towards. Nope. There were speakers randomly placed along the path pumping in the tunes. Nice ambiance.
We're starting to run out of time, but eventually we get to the top. There's a Buddhist temple and quite a few people. Not guests, but residents. It's like a small town. Really cool water features and interesting buildings.
As I'm cresting the last set of stairs the colors of the temple just explode into your vision.
Wow. That was worth it. There was a young girl attending a display of books and trinkets. When I go to pay for something she only says "free". Okay. I did find an Alipay QR code to offer a donation as we were heading out. I walked away with this souvenir.
We could feel the rush to get back down the mountain. We hightailed it back to the cable cars. Didn't want to miss the last bus down the mountain. Also of note, as we were headed back down there were a number of people on the way up. Monks and others that were hauling loads of bricks and sand to the top. One lady was much older than me. She had a full load of bricks on her back. Respect.
We caught the last bus and jumped into their car. On the way back Tia asked if I would like to join them for dinner. Last week was Jeremy's birthday and they wanted to hit his favorite restaurant in Hangzhou for his birthday dinner. I'm in. We stopped along the side of the highway and bought some grapes. At this moment we all realize just how hungry we are. We're going to an all you can eat seafood buffet. What could go wrong?
It's been a good weekend so far. Great even. How was dinner? What's going on Sunday? Same bat time. Same bat website.