I planned my route in China based on a recommendation I found online. I did not follow the route exactly but used it as guide. When I saw photos of Zhangjiajie National Forest, nicknamed the Avatar Park after the movie, I knew this was a city from the route recommendation I would visit.
In Zhangjiajie I ‘treated’ myself to a private room. Most nights I sleep in a dorm room with 2-7 other people. The hostels in China offer female only dorms, an option that does not exist in other countries I have traveled. My sense from nights I stayed in the female only dorms is that there are many college age and younger professional woman in the larger cities, and away from family, who are the primary customer for these spaces. Some dorms have a bathroom ensuite while others have bathrooms outside the room, similar to a college dorm. Dorm rooms in hostels are $6-10USD. My splurge private room was $16.25USD.
To track my daily spending I paid a few dollars for an excellent iPhone application called Trail Wallet. The app. provides me with graphs and charts documenting my daily and aggregate spending. The best feature of the app. may be its currency conversion. I input a price in RMB and the app. converts the cost to dollars while recording both the RMB and USD values.
Happy first day of the 2016-17 academic year to everyone in the education space and/or with kids headed back to school!
Like young kids at the park who toddle up to each other and instantly become friends, solo travelers are equally as happy to run into one another. Fahad, from Bangladesh, checked into the hotel in Zhangjiajie at the same time I did. He planned to go to another national park in Zhangjiajie called Tinamen Mountain the following day. Not having done much research I didn’t know about this park! Fahad welcomed me on his day trip and was the person responsible for coaxing me onto the glass bridge.
We took the world’s longest cable car ride up Tinamen Mountain. To return to the ground, we rode 5 or 6 escalators each at least 4 floors long, walked down 1000 stairs, and then rode for 45 minutes in a shuttle bus down a road full of hairpin turns.
National Parks in China feel more built-up than in the US. These photos show the wide, easy walking paths throughout the Tinamen Mountain park.
After a few weeks in cities, it was great to spend time in nature and appreciate the green surroundings.
A section of the walking path on the face of the cliff with a glass bottom! I skipped the first glass bridge but Fahad encouraged me to try this second, shorter bridge.
The following day I went solo to the national forest. I started my day in this park on the canyon floor.
The afternoon portion of my hike in Zhangjiajie National Forest included more than 13,000 stairs. Men were positioned throughout the park with chariots waiting to carry tourists.
Zhangjiajie to Guangzhou is about 250 miles. I traveled this distance on the slowest, least-fancy train available, a K train. For this journey, the train departed an hour late, healpfully noted via the red on the sign board, and was delayed an additional 3 hours en-route. The 14 hour journey became 18 hours. It was rougher. As an aside: I now have expertise in booking, canceling, changing tickets, boarding, and understanding trains in China!
I had one full day in Guangzhou. I visited the man-made sandbar area called Shamian Island, another former concession. I enjoyed seeing green and feeling as if I had left the city.