Some people staying at the hotel started banging on a door and yelling at the people inside to wake up, I presume. It went on for at least 30 minutes! On top of that, there was also a small child screaming their head off, running up and down the hall. So, I had to get up and sadly tackle this huge mountain with about three hours of sleep. Lucky for me, I slept on the bed bus.
My camera was only at the half battery, so I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked to. However, that means I only took pictures of the most astounding things, including the Purple Cloud temple and the Golden temple.
In the morning, I wasted a lot of time wandering around the city looking for the bus station because I wanted to buy my ticket home. I didn't want to get stranded there! However, I never did find it and I was so frustrated I seriously wanted to cry.
I gave up and went back to buy my ticket to go up the mountain. It includes a 45 minute bus ride, where you can start your ascent, or take another bus up another 20 minutes and take a cable car. I thought I'd take the cable car down, but I definitely wanted to climb the ancient track up the mountain all by myself!
I had some kind of Chinese fast food meal in the cheesy tourist town and then got on the bus.
I took the bus up to the second last stop, which is the Purple Cloud temple. It is the best preserved on the mountain so it's worth the peek into the past. All the temples were built in the early 15th century. Holy crap, old right?!?! I love it. At the end of the winding bus ride, it's kind of bewildering to figure out where to go. There are people selling you things and hotels everywhere you look. The entrance to the trail is not marked and so it's confusing. I have learned that in China, when you are trying to find a famous "scenic spot", just follow everyone else and you will find it.
As the hike went on, I got extremely hot. I thought the mountain would be windy and freezing cold, but it was actually sunny and nice. I had on three shirts, two pants, two socks, big hat and jacket! My guidebook also told me to bring an umbrella so I had to carry all these unnecessary clothes and things all the way up and down with me.
I made a photographer friend who kind of spoke English at the beginning of the walk, but then when he took the easy route to the top, we parted ways. However, we met again at the top! Even though I took the tougher way, I made it up as fast as he did. He told me he stopped a lot to take a lot of pictures. Yah right!
The climb was SO intense. In the book they say a lot of old people do this climb. But I only saw really fit people and a COUPLE of kids doing it really slowly with their parents. The old people all take the cable car. I don't think I have ever climbed so many stairs in my life.
At the top, it's all worth it of course. You can look down at the tops of other REALLY TALL mountains and know that you are way higher than all of them! It's crazy. I don't know how I did that all in less than three hours.
I thought about taking the cable car down, but I had a lot of time before sunset so I thought, why not just go down the stairs on the other side? No one seems to climb or descend these stairs, so I had the whole mountain mostly to myself. It was great! I drank the rest of my water, then bought a milk tea for a treat and made my way down the mountain in under an hour.
The bus ride back from the bottom of the stairs was longgggggg, so I did some thinking about what I should do tonight. I definitely did not want to stay at that hotel again, even though I paid for it. So, I decided I would demand a refund! When I got home, I translated "I do not want to sleep here tonight. Please give me 250 yuan back." At first they said no, but then I just stood there looking confused and then they gave me 220 yuan back for a late checkout fee. OK fine. As soon as I walked out the door, I saw the bus going to Shiyan, which has a busy train station. I ran to the bus and never looked back!
I was a little nervous about buying a ticket during spring festival with no notice, because of my experience trying to get to Wudang Shan. I thought the train would be full because the lady in Changsha was shaking her head at me so fervently. However, it was not. She probably just didn't want to deal with me. In contrast, the man who sold me a ticket in Shiyan was so excited to speak English and so friendly!
There were two hours before the train departed, so I went and got some awesome rice bowl thingy and a giant beer. Because I deserved it, you know. I spent some time planning my trip down the Yangzi when I get back to China in February. It all came together nicely.
I had two seats to myself the whole 11 hour journey home and slept as much as I could, arriving back home at 9 a.m. Ready for more sleep and with throbbing, sore, painful, horrible legs.