We’ve never heard of Aershan before. Since this trip of ours is not a preplanned at all. We were in Wulanhot (乌兰浩特) and we planned to go to Hailaer or Hohhot. We went to bus station to know whether there are tickets to any other place or not. My friends went to inside to know about it. I just started a conversation with the taxi driver, he said that aershan is a great place for tourism. My friends returned back and said that there were no tickets. So we spontaneously took a decision to go there & moreover we have no other option left. It was the best decision in my life which I’ve made. I still remember the situation and the taxi driver till now. We are thankful to him.
When I got off there were no taxi drivers or rickshaws to greet me, indeed, the entire town is walkable in about 20 minutes. And we prepared to look for some budget hotel to stay – not difficult as there is only one road. that the streets are quiet:
Behind the main street are a row of the more familiar mini high-rise apartments and a German styled railway station I’m told Aershan comes alive in the winter as a skiing and hot spring resort..
It was a tiny town
I was able to observe the entire town like a square with the smooth green curves of the hills beyond. A forest of pines began at the top of the hill and marched upwards as far as I could see. The hotel owner suggested us to rent a car for the day, and recommended a taxi for 350RMB for the day. This seemed a little expensive to us and we managed to get them to agree to 220RMB for the whole day. He would arrive at 6.30am the next morning.
On our way to National park
The cab driver was telling us the way of life and culture of aershan. We enjoyed the ride by singing some songs. And he was so friendly, he even stopped the car where ever we wanted to..the entrance ticket to national park was 180/person. Student card was 90 rmb.
Heavenly Lake (天池)
It seems that a crater lake or sky pond (formed by a volcanic eruption) translates into Chinese as Heavenly Lake. At 1322m above sea level this is the third highest Heavenly Lake in China. It is a short and steep climb up a considerable number of steps that are flanked with pine trees.
The lake is not especially high or large, but has its own characterful beauty. The water was mirror still and dragonflies danced and fought in a snapping of wings. Having descended, I walked amongst the market stalls that had sprung up. They were selling a diverse selection of dried materials including mushrooms, flower teas, fish and ants
It was a long drive to the Shitang forest, during which the scenery of the park changed considerably. The grass and woodlands became scarce and the ground gave itself over to nothing but volcanic rocks that looked sharp and crunchy. Mossy plants grew in lush clumps at the edge of the road and wild raspberries pitted themselves against the blackened stones.
The area is 10,000 years old, which adds a certain gravity to the scarcity of the scenery. The odd pine tree gleamed like a neon strip against the blackness of the rocks and the water that had formed in the pools was so clear it was almost invisible. The rocks really do conjure up shapes not unlike twisted corpses, hence the Chinese name of the area.
Azalea Lake (杜鹃湖)
A further 20 minutes into the park and we reached the final destination of the day. A lake so large that the breeze was able to kick up waves that gently rock the water lilies like babies in a deep blue blanket. To reach the lake it was necessary to walk through a forest of pines that were half-dead and half-alive: a mixture of sticks and trees. A small blue boat puffed out smoke and chugged in the distance, its red roof made it seem almost as if it were a house floating out there. Behind the lake the hills were crammed with innumerable trees that stacked up and over until they met the sky. By the time we reached Aershan town, it was late evening.