On our second day on Huangshan (aka Yellow Mountains), we woke up bright and early – actually dark and early, because it was 4:30am and the sun wasn’t up yet. From Xihai hotel, we headed to Bright Top, a viewing platform which was a 15-20 minute walk away.
It was getting lighter and lighter as we made our way to Bright Top, and by the time we got there, the place was already filled with tourists and their giant cameras, hoping to get a glimpse of the sunrise.
We still managed to squeeze for a spot and watched in awe as the sun came up, illuminating the valley with golden rays. We got lucky with the weather – it was completely clear, but we still got to see the “sea of clouds”, with mountain peaks peeking out of a heavy blanket of white clouds in the distance. What a view!
We’re so glad that we got to catch the sunrise on top of Yellow Mountain! It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime sort of view, the kind that absolutely took my breath away!
After viewing the sunrise, we walked back to Xihai hotel and decided to splurge on the breakfast buffet. Although it was expensive (CNY 114 if I remember correctly, about USD $17 which is extremely expensive by Chinese standards), we actually felt that it was one of the best meals that we have ever had in China 😀 Of course, our standards are pretty low because we live like starving students. But, even I was surprised by the variety of foods that were offered, considering that everything on this mountain has to be carried up on foot by porters (they don’t take the cable car!).
The buffet had Chinese foods (such as rice porridge with a myriad of toppings; rice dumplings) as well as decent Western offerings (such as fried eggs, bacon, baguettes). It was really worth the money! Needless to say we didn’t leave the buffet until they basically kicked us out because we wanted to eat our money’s worth 🙂
By the way, Xihai hotel also offers cheaper breakfast buffets at CNY 80 or so. We checked it out and our recommendation is to splurge on the more expensive one, which has way more variety, and you can sit on ground level next to the windows instead of a windowless banquet hall downstairs 🙂
Now that we’ve had a chance to rest and refuel, we headed out to explore the mountains!
On this map, you can see Bright Summit, which is the peak we went to for the sunrise. We ended up trekking down to 1st and 2nd rings, then turned around and went down the mountain via cable car around 3:30pm. We were planning to leave the mountain before lunch, but the views were just so amazing that we kept walking!
I know what you’re tired of reading my words, so here is just a bunch of pictures to entice you to go visit and see it for yourself!
We were really lucky because for some reason (maybe the bad weather yesterday?), there were very few tourists on the mountain. For many of the trails we were completely alone; there was one narrow stretch on the 1st or 2nd ring where we were forced to proceed slowly because some Chinese tour groups were going down the same path and it was kind of a single-file-line situation. Other than that, what a relief to come on a day that didn’t have us in the middle of crowds and crowds of people!
At around this point, Vernon’s nipples started chafing LOL. It’s okay Vern. It happens. Luckily I brought band-aids! (Pro-tip: Bring band-aids. Good for blisters too)
Just when we got to the cable car, it started raining again. What great timing!
Once we got to the base of the mountain around 4:15, we inquired about the bus back to Shanghai and was told that the last one leaves at 4:30pm. WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. We made a mad run for it. Don’t worry, we made it back to Shanghai in one piece! But maybe we should have checked the bus schedules earlier to avoid the last-minute dash.
I had a great time on Yellow Mountain and I would HIGHLY recommend it to any travelers in the area! The views are truly spectacular and since all of the trails are paved, hiking up and down the various peaks is not strenuous at all. The only drawback is that spring is the rainy season – we were very lucky with clear weather on the second day, but on the first day, there was zero visibility. I also highly recommend staying at least 1 night on the mountain despite the price and less-than-ideal amenities; seeing the sunrise the next morning and getting a head start on the hike was really worth it!
To end this post, a bonus funny English sign of the day…