Saturday, July 21, 2018

Zhangjiajie – Day Three – The Bridge!!!

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If you haven’t figured out by now, I am a huge fan of the Travel Channel.  I watch it all the time to get ideas on where to go.  I saw this bridge being constructed and finished in 2016 and decided it has to be on our list.  This morning our driver returned to transport us to a different part of the valley where we would experience the Glass Bridge over Zhangjiajie Canyon.  The bridge was built by the Israelis and is the longest glass suspension bridge in the world.  It spans the 1500’ dee’ canyon below.  The lines were amazingly shorter than previous attractions and the wait was in much cooler confines.  Once we got through the cattle fences we put on protective covers over our shoes and walked on to the bridge.  The floor of the bridge is indeed glass…Huge 2 inch thick glass panels supported in a frame.  For the weak of heart and spirit you can use the solid walkways.  We crossed the bridge and then back.

 Brave ones.

My first approach.
After I saw all the kids laughing at me.

 Doing a bit of marketing for our tour company.
 These sweeties wanted a photo.

The whole experience lasted nearly three hours between getting there, waiting in line, and then walking the actual bridge.  There were hundreds of people and that in itself made walking on glass even more adventurous.

We departed the bridge area for a nice drive over the mountain ridge and back into the Zhangjiajie Valley.  We reached the Yellow Dragon Cave and hour later.  The cave was discovered in 1988 when locals were searching for the source of an underground spring.  We did not have much of an introduction prior to entry and having been in countelss caves, did not expect anything too spectacular.  Well, we were wrong.  This cave contains the largets interior vaulted caverns (halls) discovered thus far in the entire world.  In addition it also contains the tallest free-standing stalagmites known. It also have as hightest interior waterfall.  On top of that it has a 3.2 KM underground river system.  The infrastructure in the cave was the most amazing part of our visit…over 4,000 steps, all hand laid in stone and cement, railings, lighting, viewing platforms, a boat ride on the river.  Bree had warned us of the strenuous journey and asked if we wanted a modified itinerary.  WE told her we were up to anything she could through at us.  So she went to bat.  Our visit lasted well over two hours and during that time we walked over four miles (yes FOUR) and climbed most of those 4,000 steps totally 32 flights of stairs.  Thankfully the temperature in the cave was a steady 65^ so it was a pleasant bit of exercise.

The local name of the cave is "Long Dong."  I had to take a picture of the sign because I know no one would believe me.  The tourist guide calls if Yellow Dragon Cave.
The new entrance.

Spectacular lighting.

Ugh, those stairs...and plenty of them in all directions.

Tallest free-standing stalagmite in the world thus far discovered.

Pac-Man Stalagmite.

More of those stairs.

 The waterfall.  Look for it in the middle of the picture and keep in mind that this carvern is more than 800' high.
 The boat docks.

Outside the cave and an adornment to the access walk, there are many, many gardens.  Full of statues and ponds, the most outstanding feather is a series of water wheels, all connected to each other and run strictly by rushing water from the nearby stream. 

Grass covered toursit center
 Darwin's Theory...out of context but all the same a lot of fun to see.

As a special treat we enjoyed an very nice lunch of local cusine at an upscale restaurant.  Once again we treated Bree to join us and our meal consisted of sautéed pork with peanuts, sautéed morning glory greens, a beef and hot chili dish, rice and the BEST, BEST, BEST hot chili sauce I’ve eaten yet.  I could have eaten the whole bowl with a spoon…and actually, that is what I did.  All of the dishes were served in individual locally made pottery and porcelain.

And our day was now only half over.  From here we were transported to Zhangjiajie Lake for a quiet sail on a traditional Chinese river barge.  Our attendant gave a lovely talk on the mountains and scenery and of course, there were a few local folk songs sung in a lovely voice. At the end of the sail we walked a short way to the waterfall and Coy pond. 

We ended our day back at the hotel, hot and sweaty and ready for a pleasant evening back at the hotel.  After cooling off and freshening up we ventured outside near dark and found a local restaurant.  We scouted the tables already seated an ordered this time by pointing to dishes already served.  The meat dish we picked was again that of an undefined critter…tasty…lots of small bones…and we dared not ask.

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