Jun 11, 2008

Geomorphological spectacles!

I pulled the title for my post from this article in the New York Times that talks about Wulingyuan, which we visited over our recent long weekend here.
"There are well over 3,000 spires, and they make up what the United Nations 15 years ago declared to be one of the most remarkable geomorphological spectacles existing on our planet."
Here's some scenic photos I took.

A small waterfall:

A natural bridge:

Here's one of the many plastic bag-stealing monkeys. This one is not ashamed at all of spreading his legs and showing everyone his junk.

A young monkey waiting for a Chinese tourist to feed him another chocolate-creme Oreo.

Here are a few vertical and horizontal panoramas I used my digital camera's software to combine. They'll look better if you click on them and view the full size images.

Cloudy, foggy weather:

Clear weather:

This pinnacle looks like it would be great for climbing, but I suspect it wouldn't be recommended as it's primarily sandstone.

There were a few opportunities to hire a cane chair litter (I had to look that word up) and get carried either up or down part of the mountain. By my estimation, this activity is not recommended for anyone overweight, obese, severely obese, or morbidly obese. The last thing you want is for that bamboo pole or cane chair to crack, or for the porters to keel over from exhaustion, having you tumble down a stone staircase.

Here's a look at what you're actually sitting in.

This is a driver's eye view of part of the ride while on level ground, before we started to go up or down any stairs. I put a clip of our actual ride on YouTube, you can check it out here.

Here's a curious youngster. When you're visiting the countryside, like Wulingyuan, kids this young don't speak Mandarin at home and they'll mostly just stare at you with a glazed over look when you ask them the standard kid questions like "how old are you?" and "what's your name?".

The entrance fee to the park is pretty steep, around CNY 250 per person for two days. To translate it into American vacation equivalents, a white-collar Chinese family going here for a few days would be impacted as much or more than a middle-class US family flying to Florida for a week-long Disney World vacation.

Despite the higher-than-normal price, Wulingyuan was the most well-managed and maintained natural park that I've been to in China. It's relatively free from litter, there weren't huge crowds, and the overall park infrastructure was excellent.

The admission tickets are high tech. They give you a credit card-looking ticket that they link with your thumb print so you can't transfer it to anyone else.

Supposedly, the best times to go to Wulingyuan are Spring and Fall because the weather is mild, and it doesn't rain much. It rains off and on for a lot of the summer, so the second day we were there you couldn't see much at the top of some parts of the mountains. The clouds and fog tend to make photos convey more of the depth, however. Wulingyuan is one of those natural places, like the Grand Canyon, where you can't convey the depth and size in photos very well, you have to go there in person to appreciate it.

Although we did buy a couple of rain ponchos made of thin plastic bag material, I didn't feel the need to get these plastic shoe booties. The booties were quite a hit with many Chinese tour groups there:

Hanging in a restaurant near the hotel we stayed at by the park entrance was this picture of some Caucasian babies dressed up in adult outfits. It makes me think of a couple episodes on "The Office" where some people have a problem with Angela's creepy posters of babies playing musical instruments.

I didn't try this bee hive candy the villagers were selling on the mountain, but it sounds like it could be worth a try.

Does this branding look similar to American Standard's logo to you? Who would have thought.


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