"I want to see mountains again, Gandalf. And find someplace quiet where I can finish my book..." - Lord of the Rings
24.09.2010 94 °F
The alarm goes off. Grogginess leaves us quickly, for we know what awaits us this day: The top of a mountain.
We dress quickly after splashing cold water on our faces. Stuffing Chinese kiwis, apples, and oranges into our packs, along with bottled water, we head for the door and the peak. Outside, we face another hot Zhuhai day, but with our heads held high, for the breeze on top of Ban Zhan Mountain is cool and refreshing.
After hailing a cab, we jump into the backseat and give the driver directions in American-accented Chinese. "Wo men yao Qu ban zhan shan." The driver understands, thankfully, and sets out immediately. Weaving through the insanity that is also called traffic in Southern China, we arrive about twenty minutes later at the foot of Ban Zhan Shan(Shan means "mountain"). Shouldering our packs, we set out.
Ban Zhan Shan is a small mountain, but it is quite high, taller than almost, if not, all of the skyscrapers in Zhuhai. The main path to the top is made of 1999 stairs. However, it has many many small trails that break away along the way, giving any curious hiker plenty of exploring to do.
Becky and I started the daunting steps as soon as we completed a quick stretching routine for our legs. The first 500 are easy every time, but after that your body is drenched in sweat, your legs are on fire, and the benches every two hundred steps or so look very inviting.
We persisted up to about 1,000 Steps, where we took our breakfast of apples and water. Rested, and invigorated, we leapt up and continued on our way up. We finished the full 1,999 steps in about forty minutes or so, including our short breakfast. On the top, a long sidewalk stretches through several platforms where benches sit next to the low cement rails that serve as barrier between you and a long fall.
The view is incredible from the top. You can see for miles in every direction, and different landscapes find your gaze with each new way you look. The ocean rests to the south and east, and mountains bigger than ban zhan shan rest to the far southwest, outside of the city. Just under Ban zhan Shan to the South is Gong Bei Area, a tourist area in Zhuhai, and also the area from where we begin climbing Ban Zhan Shan. On the other side of the mountain lies the other areas of Zhuhai, streching out to the North and the East, sprawling over many miles. Beyond the edge of the city lies yet more mountains, surrounding the beautiful coastal city in green. Becky and I take many many pictures, before heading back down the path and the steps, where we plan on heading down a side trail to explore.
We eventually find the trail we want, and start down it immediately. No longer stone stairs, this trail is dirt, and is hedged in by tropical plants and trees. The Forest itself is not deciduous in any way, and even the dirt itself seems strange.
We follow the trail up and down, up and down, running through many valleys that stem from the heights of Ban Zhan Shan. We walked for about an hour, taking in beautiful gorges and little streams before turning back and heading back to the stairwell.
Having been to the top already, we take the stairs, very wobbily, back down to the foot where we go home to rest.
This we have done many times since arriving in Zhuhai. Ban Zhan Shan is amazing, and it refreshes us every time we climb it. We have returned to take pictures of the sunset, and will soon be going to try for a sunrise shot. I will post along with this blog many photos from BanZhan Shan below. Enjoy!