Xishan

So today we decided to climb a mountain.DSC_4080

Courtesy of GoKunming:

Literally meaning ‘Western Mountains’, Xishan is composed of five small mountains: Biji Mountain (碧鸡山), Binao Mountain (碧蛲山), Huating Mountain (华亭山), Taihua Mountain (太华山) and Luohan Mountain (罗汉山). Luohan Mountain is the tallest of the bunch, rising more than 600 meters above the lake to a maximum elevation of just over 2,500 meters.

Xishan is something that everyone at school has told us to check out and we’ve been waiting for the sweet spot of time off, reasonable weather, no illness and a bit of motivation to go do it. Today was that day.

We started by spending ages waiting for a taxi on Dianchi Lu (the main dual carriageway on which we live) when finally a guy pulled over and offered us a lift for 50 Kwai (same as a taxi) to Dianchi scenic area which is where you start if you want to go up by cable car.

I took some photos of the Chinglish rules before you can buy a ticket which mentions no psychopaths and no quarrelling.

I should probably mention that I didn’t realise we’d be getting a cable car as I thought we would be hiking up (but we went to the wrong entrance for hiking) and after agreeing to the cable car I didn’t realise how high up it took you as it stops off and then starts again.

I don’t like heights, being able to see down through glass capsules or enclosed spaces…. I was glad to get off but the views were worth it.

This video is of the second part of the ascent:

 After getting off the cable car we were a bit confused as to whereabouts we were as we weren’t given a map or anything and although we’d read the GoKunming article from 2012 we had come from a different starting point. Basically we worked out after some time that we were kind of in the middle and if you look at the map below we started at the bit where it says Park Management Office and then walked up from there.

kunming-western-hills

Link to enlarged copy

One of the first things we came across was the grave of Nie Er (聂耳) the Kunming native who composed the music for The March of the Volunteers in 1935 which later became the Chinese National Anthem in 1945.

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Nie Er’s grave

After this we had to pay 40 Kwai each for entrance to the next part of the mountain – the path leading up to Dragon’s Gate and Longmen mountain. We decided to walk the rest of the way and we’re glad we did when we saw the “cable car” that would otherwise bring you to the peak of the mountain – legs dangling and all. Luckily the road was wide and tarmacked and there was plenty to see.

After climbing hundreds of steps and my legs becoming more and more jelly like I decided I’d reached my peak in terms of how far I was willing to go up the mountain and so we got to a point called Saint Parents Temple and then began to head back down the mountain.

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Kunming from our highest vantage point

After we reached the mid-point of the mountain where we started we decided to hike back down the rest of the way instead of the cable car and this meant we’d be walking by the two main temples of the mountain Taihua and Huating. According to the GoKunming article (2012) it should have cost just 6 yuan each to go inside but when we finally got down that far we found out it was going to cost 25rmb each and we just didn’t have that much on us (especially since we still had to get back to the city somehow) so we weren’t able to go inside. We did however enjoy a nice downhill walk that meandered into the trees up and away from the main road which was silent but for some birds and the odd passer-by.

Eventually when our calves were burning from all of the hundreds of steps down and then the winding road next to sheer drops we made it to the main road. Unfortunately the gate at the exit isn’t much to behold but there was a cool view of the spaghetti like roads of Kunming in the distance. Luckily we managed to get a minivan home for 100 Kwai so we didn’t have to walk back.

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Kunming

All in all it was a great day out although pretty terrifying if you don’t like heights! It cost a lot more than we were informed and luckily we brought just enough cash. It was 40 kwai each for one way up the cable car and 40 kwai each admission to the top part of the mountain. If we had gone into both of the temples on the lower part of the mountain it would have cost 100 kwai total for us both just to enter. We spent 50 kwai getting to the mountain and 100 kwai getting back. We brought a bottle of water and a coke whilst on the mountain which cost 8 kwai together and we didn’t buy any food. The toilets we used were spotlessly clean and free and because we walked most of the way we didn’t spend any money on the various green buses and golf carts you can use to get around – the buses were 25 kwai per person each way. So it was quite expensive and Jack wants to go back so we can climb to the top but personally I had my fill and I’m pleased we went as far as we did.

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