23.08.2012 22 °C
Thursday, August 23
We got up this morning and wished Nicole a Happy Birthday. I cannot devulge her age. I will let someone else do that.
After a quick breakfast at the JinJiang Inn, we were off to Tianmen mountain to experience the Skywalk, Glass Skywalk and Heaven's Gate. This is an all day attraction and it is well worth the money; as long as you are not afraid of heights.
Finding the entrance was not very easy, because it had been changed and is now on the edge of town...which our GPS had not been made aware of. After picking up the tickets, we stood in line for the very long gondola ride up the mountain. Reaching the top, most everyone was going in the counter-clockwise direction, so being different, we started to walk clockwise along the edge of the mountain.
I found this quote in a google search and it is true " Tourists tread gingerly over this Indiana-Jones style walkway in China, lodged precariously almost a kilometre and a half up a sheer rock face on the Tianmen Mountain." We wore shorts and T-shirts but we soon found it to be a little cool at the top, especially in the windy areas.
It is a long way around the mountain and there are many beautiful views, however, it is hard not to consider that the work may have been done by the lowest bidder who might have paid off a governement official to cut corners in order to save money. However, the walkway is very solid and I never felt ill at ease with its construction. Take a look down and even if you are not afraid of heights, it gives you an eerie feeling...its a long way down. And as they say, " the fall won't kill you but the landing surely will ".
The highlight of the walkway is the glass skywalk section that isn't very long, but it is not for the ' faint of heart '. It has concrete supports with glass panels to walk on and the railing is made of stainless steel with glass panels. You have to rent " booties " to slip over your shoes in order to walk on the glass so that it will not be scratched. You can see down below your feet and through the railing with ease. While we were on the walkway, there was a group of people laughing hysterically at their friend who was so scared that he almost had his fingernails embedded in the stone face of the mountain. He would not look down or away from the rockface. I thought it was rather cruel of his friends to do that to him.
After completing the curcuit around the mountain and taking a lot of pictures, we took the gondola ride down to the halfway point and then we took the bus ride back up along the " 99 curves " of the road to " Heaven's Gate ". This natural gate is basically a large oblong hole through the top of one of the mountains which is wide enough for planes to fly through, but not by much!
At the end of the bus ride, there are almost 1000 steps to climb in order to reach the gate, so we stopped for a quick lunch at the bottom of the stairs and then proceded to climb to the top, a tiring climb, but well worth it! More pictures were taken and then we headed back to the bus, took the gondola back to our car and headed back to the hotel...a little less energetic than we were in the morning!
Tomorrow we have tickets for some white water rafting in the morning and then we will be heading north again. It is a 15 hour drive to Beijing and we would like to be back by Sunday.