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Tour to Zhangjiajie and Phoenix Town

Michael Binkley, sculptor, zhangziea, Wulingyuan, mountains, China

Our hosts continue to wow us. After 12 days of work, we got a holiday.

We left Changsha by plane to Zhangjiajie in the northern part of Hunan province and were wined and dined at the foot of the Wulingyuan Mountains that inspired the landscape in the film Avatar. Then we saw a eye popping show about the traditional local minority group’s courtship and marriage ritual. There are 56 different minority groups in China.

Next day, we were taken to see the Wulingyuan Mountains. 1,000 foot limestone spires cut by centuries of wind and rain. I cannot figure why they don’t fall over. Each has a tangle of pine trees and plants growing as a crown in top. There are dozens of them. The weather was clear, but enough mist to make the whole place more surrealistic.

Michael Binkley, tianmen, mountains, zhangjiajie, China

In the afternoon, we were taken to the world’s longest cable car and up to the Tianmen Mountains. Tianmen means Gate of Heaven, and refers to a giant hole in one mountain. The area is a national park and quite large. There is a winding road access to mid station, a sacred 999 step staircase to the Gate of Heaven, temples and cliff clinging walkways. I would have loved to climb the staircase, but our hosts chose to take us to the far side of the park to the glass walkway – a 1,000 foot drop under glass panels you walk on. The sky closed in a bit, so the viewscape was even more misty than the morning.

After dinner, we were bused 4 hours to Phoenix Town, a world heritage site that China is preserving. It is considered by China as a small place – only 350,000 inhabitants. The centre of the city has not changed in 300 years.

Michael Binkley, Phoenix town, China

Following breakfast, we were taken to the Ancient Town to stroll the streets to the river and then a short boat ride downstream. We were let off on the far bank and released to shop and walk our way back to the bus over a wooden bridge.

It was a fabulous experience, and my thanks goes out to CPIH for organizing and sponsoring our trip.

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