The first week of October is known as ‘Golden Week’ in China, a national holiday. Chinese people see it as China’s ‘birthday’ and a time in which they celebrate and cherish being in the country that they all love so much.
Many people choose to travel – China is such a vast and extensive country with so much to see and do that most residents take this time to visit other provinces and famous landmarks. For example, the Great Wall (around 16 million tourists visited in National Week 2014 according to this article).
I also chose to travel. A friend and I were invited to a town named Ziquejie, Hunan by a Chinese family – which turned out to be a great experience. Chinese culture indicates that the host families are always incredibly hospitable, providing copious amounts of food throughout our stay and not letting us pay for anything!
We went to Ziquejie National Scenic Resort and the views were stunning. We stayed within the resort and could see rice fields all around. The air was a lot fresher than Changsha and we could even see some star formations which blew us away! (It’s the little things).
After a couple of days of travelling with the Chinese family, we headed to Zhangjiajie (Jang-jee-a-jay) National Park, more commonly known as the filming location for Avatar.
This is a MUST for anyone coming to China – the views were incredible. We decided to climb up the highest peak Tianmen Mountain, which took about three hours. There are stairs all the way up and numerous stop points where you can purchase food; meat, potatoes, corn, tofu, watermelon and more. (I’ve never seen a country so obsessed with food as China!)
There is also the option to take one of these to the top – which when you have climbed up so many stairs starts to look quite appealing!
We were able to enjoy the views all the way up the mountain, and even more so at the peak, along with our McDonalds coffees (yes, I’m serious). The views were spectacular. Definitely worth the climb up! The park wasn’t overly crowded either, because we chose to travel towards the end of the week when most people may have already left. We bought Chinese beaded bracelets and imported goods from India, and dressed up in traditional Chinese dress – a must for tourists in China!
For our second day in Zhangjiajie, we ventured outside the actual National Park and decided to explore Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. I think this is the best decision we made. The rickety bus ride took us through small villages and up a mountain, where we were admitted through the gates. We then were met with some very steep steps known as ‘Heaven’s Ladder’ that you descend for roughly half an hour with no end in sight.
You then arrive at a platform where you have the option to slide down the rest of the way! We paid around 15RMB for this – and they provide you with these saucy outfits to speed you along.
Once we arrived at the bottom, we were met with a waterfall and one of the clearest streams I have ever seen. It was a beautiful. You then walk around the incredibly well laid out park, with plenty more waterfalls and a gorgeous ‘Sapphire Lake’. I couldn’t believe we were in China with this natural beauty around us! You even have the option to zipwire across part of it – which we snapped up!
You are then provided with a boat where the path disappears, that takes you across the clear water to the end of the resort and rows of stalls. I bought some local honey from this lovely man.
All in all, it was a pretty good National Week. I loved my experience in Zhangjiajie and would recommend it to everyone visiting China! You can find out costs and more information here.