Destinations Magazine

Zhangjiajie: My Hallelujah Mountain Experience...

By Josephharrison1990 @JTAH_1990

As if I hadn't had enough of heights for one day or my whole trip, 24 hours later I was about to take on another Zhangjiajie height! Had I gone completely mad? For certain, the worst had been experienced, I had a new perspective as the 'Bailong Elevator' took me up 1,069 ft! Sure, I was more than ready to see those gorgeous views of both the Hallelujah & Avatar Mountains. Help! 

Zhangjiajie: My Hallelujah Mountain Experience...

Being on the road early the following morning allowed myself and my guide to reach Zhangjiajie's own National Park before the summertime crowds would descend upon that 'Pandora' looking location. Of course, I had watched the first 'Avatar' film and with a return to China on the cards, I had to factor in a stop during my 2023 summer holiday. It took about five minutes for us to reach the gates of the Hallelujah and Avatar Mountains from my Wulingyuan District hotel. I felt a lot less anxious compared to the previous day, the fact that the lift would take me to the top in a very short space of time definitely calmed my nerves a little. I wasn't going to lie because at the bottom of the mountain the 'Bailong Elevator' looked rather intimidating indeed. At the ticket window there was a young lady who appeared to be another independent traveler like myself, we got talking and glady I invited her to join my private tour. From France, Ophélie joined myself and my guide as we entered the lift into the clouds! Aller! 

Making our way into the lift felt really scary, I kept my sanity together by telling myself that nothing would ever scare me as much as Tianmen Mountain had done the previous day. As the lift started to ascend from that lower level into what felt like the heavens, myself and Ophélie thought that the height wasn't that scary to deal with. I can't quite remember how long it took the lift took us to the top but it didn't feel as long as that petrifying cable car had done the previous day. Finding our way out of the lift felt like a blessing, the weather was beautiful with clear skies serving the brightest blue. I felt ready to take on that height, I really wanted to see those legendary views like never before! I was able to move along the path without freaking out, the path wasn't easy and the 1,000 or so feet height didn't scare me half as much as Heaven Gate Mountain had the previous day. Ophélie also felt that the height wasn't too much of a problem, we agreed that the fear wouldn't amount to much when we saw the views with our own eyes. Z!

Zhangjiajie: My Hallelujah Mountain Experience...

Nothing else mattered when we both saw the picture postcard view of the Hallelujah Mountain range! I couldn't get over how those mountains had maintained their 'free-standing' pose, truly it was a gob-smacking moment for us all! I still can't rationalise how I felt during that moment, it was like a dream had come true. Nothing but wonder stood in front of us, we had been served a 'dream-like' scene with nothing but magical mountains ahead of us. There was no price I could put on that moment, the tour itself had paid for itself because the views were simply spectacular. I was feeling extremely proud of myself during that moment, as mentioned before I hadn't lost my senses, I continued to keep it together. Honestly, it was like life had stood still and the domestic tourists who were around us, well they didn't matter in that moment. Of course, I had not forgot that it was pay day! You know that I was waiting for that direct deposit! Was I dreaming? Was I in fact asleep during that moment? Oh, I was fully present, feeling very aware! 

I felt confident enough to record a video for my nephew, it would be his birthday in a couple of days and I wanted the mountains to be something for him to remember. I found the courage from somewhere to be animated and unafraid, Owen sure had the best birthday gift with that view of Zhangjiajie's Hallelujah Mountains in the background. Feeling like a mountain goat, it was amazing to climb up and down those winding paths, I tried not to let the stairs faze me along with the heaven-like heights. People were doing the most, they stared at me continuously but I didn't let that annoy me because I spoke to those people in Chinese then to find they were just super curious. My salary hit my account rather early during that mountain visit, I purchased a rather overpriced 'Hallelujah Mountain' shaped ice cream because I could!  Yes, I was feeling lucky! I paid £1.00 to put a fish back into the water that was in-front of me, it was a very bizarre experience but I was assured the fish going back into the water symbolised good luck. O' crazy! 

Zhangjiajie: My Hallelujah Mountain Experience...

My Avatar Mountain experience in Zhangjiajie's own National Park was going swimmingly, I had been fortunate enough to see one side of that gorgeous mountain range. My guide David ushered myself and Ophélie onto a rather crowded mini bus, he said that the bus would eventually take the rest of the passengers to the cable car station but he had other plans for us. That bus journey saw me holding onto the nearest railings for my whole living life, the driver really knew the roads but those twists and turns did the most! David asked the driver to stop along the road that led to the cable car station, where was he leading us to? I knew that we still needed to see the needle-like rock formations, were we being guided to a more secluded location? David guided myself and Ophélie along the roadside where we found a series of downward heading steps. Surrounded by green trees in every direction, I totally wasn't ready for the upcoming viewpoint! Keeping it moving, mine and Ophélie's conversation flowed. No way! 

Literally, out of nowhere we both were stopped dead in our tracks by the wondrous view that lay ahead of us! We were both utterly lost for words as the vista looked dream-like in the middle of the day, those Avatar views were being served once again! I had to say 'Hallelujah' a few times because that endless mountain view had me in my feelings in the best way! I really tried my best to handle that view without going crazy, keeping within my limits was the thing I did. I kept my boundaries guarded, moving forwards slowly with something to hold onto was imperative for me! I was able to walk down one set of steep steps but I had hit my limit, I was able to take a few photos and appreciate the view mindfully. It was a much more manageable height for me to deal with, for that I felt that Tianmen Mountain had prepared me with my anxiety already pushed to the limit. Against all odds, I was having the time of my life soaking up those magnificent views, it was a moment in time! There was a McDonald's at the top? Yes!, I wanted a burger for sure ZJJ!

Zhangjiajie: My Hallelujah Mountain Experience...

Of course, I ordered my Double Cheeseburger at the top of that Chinese mountain range because I wanted to! The McDonald's franchise was mad busy with people ordering for primarily sit-in orders, I wanted my order to go! I loved my burger and it was worth every single Yuan and then some, those heights had made me mighty hungry! The days itinerary had almost come to a close, getting back down to 'Terra Firma' was my main priority. Before we took the cable car down the mountain it was time for us to learn more about a specific figure. The statue of Marshall Helong educated us about a person who became one of the founding fathers of the People's Republic of China. The statue was awash with tourists, I didn't feel the need to get up close and personal with that statue because the information and view from a certain distance sufficed. Descending in the cable car felt like we were floating through a magical land, we felt as if we were in the film 'Avatar' without a doubt! The day was done, it was a blessing to be back on stable ground again. 

Ophélie decided that she wanted to seek another part of the vast Zhangjiajie National Park, parting ways it had been a pleasure sharing my private tour with her that day. Before the car met us at the entrance to the park, it was sobering to the see the unfinished restaurant complex that without the Pandemic should've been open and thriving. Those unfinished businesses gave me food for thought, my tour guide showed me a video of a pre-Pandemic version of the park at opening time. I really felt lucky that visitor numbers were still down, I really would not have enjoyed my day with that number of people vying to see the same views! After a much less scary experience, I headed out onto the main street for some barbecue and beer. My trip had been full packed, Hunan Province had showcased so much more than I had ever expected it to have done. Breathing a sigh of relief, I had completed all of my mountain expedition-like activities in Hunan Province! You already know that a bottle of wine was the right choice! Oh, I needed that drink! 

Serving Avatar Realness! 

Desperately Seeking Adventure 

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