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Explore beauty and awe in Zhangjiajie

While I knew enough not to hope for a major day of hiking, I was surprised by just how streamlined the trip up the mountains is. The Bailong Elevator, a 326m elevator, apparently the tallest outdoor lift in the world, was provided to make our trip up the mountains completely effortless.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park became the first national forest park of China in 1982 and listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage in 1992.

And it makes sense why it was given these honors. It may be cliche to say that pictures don't do Zhangjiajie justice, but in this case it's 100 percent justified.

The unique peaks are natural pillars made of quartz-sandstone. Their eccentric appearance was created over years of physical erosion.

We were surprised to hear the guide explain that the houses across a valley are real homes of people that still live in these mountains.

There were fewer tourists than I was imagining, as the region inches closer to winter, but I still had to weave around packs of people to get the perfect shot of these beautiful surroundings.

The Southern Sky Column, a singular peak jutting out from the green abyss, was the inspiration of Hallelujah Mountain in Avatar, and it's name was officially changed to Hallelujah Mountain in 2010.

We also learned that Avatar may have made Zhangjiajie internationally famous but it was Chinese artists who initially brought its beauty to the outside world. One can see similar foggy peaks and greenery in Chinese art trying to capture its wonder.

The only true downside to this excursion was we didn't have much time to explore. We fit it into a half day when some people spend a week exploring the area. I suppose that means I may be coming back for more.

Source: China Culture

2017-01-11

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