Retirement Travel And Continuous Education, Part II Our Magic Journey

Our journey…

We dropped Beijing from our proposed itineray since each of us had been there a few times and the weather in March was not inviting. There's no need to take the full 10-hour journey if we had to start in Beijing. We looked at the map and the rail schedule and chose to ride the 3-hour portion from Changsha to Guangzhou instead. No spills and little excitement; it was just a smooth 300 kph (about 200 mph) ride. With Changsha as our first port of call in China, after our Singapore-Hong Kong-Changsha flights, we decided to discover the magic in the two UNESCO World Heritage sites in China's Hunan province.

The ancient town of Fenghuang was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List 2008 in the Cultural category. Arriving in the evening after a long 6-hour coach ride from Changsha, our first glimpse of the town was from the bridge. With its lights shimmering in the river below, the view of this ancient town with its well-preserved architecture from the Ming and the Ching dynasties was magical. Eager to see this ancient town in daylight, we headed straight into its streets and river scenes right after an early breakfast. We learnt of the Miao and the Tujia minority tribes, and that the Miao diaspora to Southeast Asia started from the area over the last two centuries. The city walls which we had touched the previous evening were part of the Southern China Great Wall. It was such an invigorating experience to experience the history of those city walls. The following day was another long ride from Fenghuang to Zhangjiajie, across mountainous stretches and rural terraced fields. What struck me was all the new brick-and-mortar houses in the countryside that new wealth has brought, no doubt from the labour of the millions who had migrated to work in the large cities and economic zones. Located within the Zhangjiajie prefecture is the World Heritage site Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area, within which is the famous Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. Well, the magic is in riding the world's highest outdoor Bailong glass elevator which can zoom you up 1,070 feet (330 metres) and it is perched along the side of the cliff. You will now reach Yuangjiajie in the northwest part of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, More magic awaits you up the mountains, in the form of quartzite sandstone pillars in karst landscape. And if you are, like me, a fan of the Avatar movie you will need to add Zhangjiajie National Forest Park into your bucket list. Do it soon, as otherwise the increasing domestic Chinese tourists will make your queue times much longer. Be a child again and go on a journey with a group of friends and discover the magic of the world around us… Related links: 1. Mountain Peak Renamed – Avatar Hallelujah Mountain ~ http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2010-01/26/content_9375268.htm

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