Day 1 [Feb 9, 2016] The tour continued to Changde after a quick lunch in Shaoshan. It was around 2 - 3hrs drive via the freeway but traffic was pretty congested so I don't really remember how long it took for our coach to reach Changde. After a heavy dinner, it was a really good idea to do a night tour to the Changde Poetry Wall. Due to severe flood issue in the past, a 3km flood wall was built along the Yuan River downtown. This wall was covered in a variety of poems mostly from the ancient China. The wall holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest wall with engraved arts. Before leaving the park, I saw the local releasing Hung Ming Lantern to the sky, symbolising good luck in the new year.
Day 4 [Feb 12, 2016] The Charming Xiangxi show is one of the 3 grand folk shows in China that consists of strong distinctive ethnic feature of the minority tribal groups in Hunan. The show perfectly integrates traditional folk tales, songs and drumming with modern music and acrobats. I love how gracefully the dances have been choreographed. Among al the performances in the 90-minutes show, I find the Wedding Lament (Tujia Kujia) unique and interesting. Kujia, literally translated as Crying Marriage, is the custom of Tujia's marriage where the bride had to weep and cry before, during and after her wedding day in order to set off happiness of the wedding via falsely sorrowful words. Days later after her wedding, female family members of the bride like grandmother, mother, sisters and aunts have to join in the crying custom. In the older days, the bride is considered a poorly cultivated girl if she fails to cry at the wedding and that would make her a laughingstock of her village! After the indoor performances ended, audience will be invited to a bonfire in the open air. That is when your adrenaline starts rushing. The Qigong performance is absolutely the highlight of the Charming Xiangxi Show. It is definitely soul-stirring and exciting when you see the Qigong master walk back and forth on a gigantic sharp knife...BAREFOOT! Tips: Before the indoor performances begin, a famous calligrapher from Zhangjiajie wrote beautiful calligraphies on stage, auctioning his freshly done work to the audience. The money will be donated to build a school for kids living in this poor area. With tourism being its main source of income, Zhangjiajie overall is still considered as a relatively poor village. So help out if you could! Anyway, art is priceless :)
Day 2 [Feb 10, 2016] Mr. Li Junsheng is famously known in the artistic field for his work using eco-friendly materials such as sandstone, plants and other materials that can be easily obtained from Mother Nature. From far, his work looks like a normal traditional painting but as you get closer to it, I assure you that you will be stunned by the finest details of his work. Tips: Do visit the gallery if you are interested in new concepts of art :)
Day 3 [Feb 11, 2016] Visitors are given two options to reach the Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, i.e. from the Golden Whip Stream via Luanchuanpo to the Back Garden, or take the Bailong Life. The Bailong Life is a 330m-high glass lift that was built on the side of an enormous cliff in Zhangjiajie National Park. The feeling is absolutely amazing to be in the World's Tallest Full-Exposure Outdoor Lift. When I reached the peak, the scenic view seriously left me speechless. ABSOLUTELY STUNNING! The view where high mountains surround the giant rocks and peaks that rise from deep valleys. The Southern Sky Pillar is definitely the highlight in Yuanjiajie and an attraction that you wouldn't want to miss out because it was the inspiration for the "Hallelujah Mountains" we saw in the Oscar-winning movie, Avatar :)
Day 2 [Feb 10, 2016] Without doubt, Zhangjiajie is the highlight of this Hunan tour and it is definitely way too crowded. Yes, please do expect heavy traffic congestion. The walk in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is lovely, exciting and enjoyable (visually yes but physically, I guess it depends. Haha). The walk started off with pretty steep stairs under your feet of about 1600++ steps. It's optional to finish the 1600++ steps because halfway down there would be a GIANT SLIDE FOR ADULTS! YASSS!!! You would need to purchase a ticket before going down the lengthy rock slides, where you will be given a pair of gloves and a piece of cloth to wear around your butt (guess no one want to continue their trail walk with a hole in their pants right? lol). When you reached the bottom of the valley, a 4km trail walk awaits you. I would say it is definitely worth it to walk because you get to stroll along the picturesque trail with countless streams, waterfalls, cliffs and caves. Halfway through the 4km walk, there is a Flying Fox where you would need to purchase another ticket and kind of cut short your 4km walk. It was so gorgeous that I just keep on snapping photos along my way that I don't even remembered walking that far. I would say it is a MUST to hop on to the canyon cruise. The scenic cruise is DEFINITELY worth it. I literally felt that the cruise brought me into a magical planet of its own :) Tips: It's a MUST SEE attraction!
Day 4 [Feb 12, 2016] At the entrance of Yellow Dragon Cave, there is a distinctive building that serves as a theatre for the Yanyu Zhangjiajie Show. I reckon it is a pleasant experience to take a stroll to the cave with all those scenic views. Taking a guided tour in this karst cave has been amazing because of the stunning view in there. I was left speechless to see underground waterfalls, underground rivers, pools and an underground lake in a cave. The guided tour also includes a boat ride down one of the underground rivers. Tips: I have visited numerous karst cave and this is the best so far. Its route has been properly paved with tiles. I reckon it's really friendly for both kids and elders to visit this beautiful cave.