Day 5 [Feb 13, 2016]
The group decided to skip Mount Tianmen Scenic Spot (天门山) and head straight to our next destination, Fenghuang Gucheng (The Phoenix Ancient City), because of the super long queue required just to get the entrance ticket. I was told that only 10,000 tickets are sold daily but during that peak season, the number of visitors queueing up for the tickets is almost tripled. The group has to queue up for the ticket from 1am to wait for the national park to be opened, hoping to get the tickets (which in my personal point of view, it's not that worth it. But I would definitely revisit Zhangjiajie in the future for Mount Tianmen).
I would say the traffic congestion is very severe to the extent that it would literally take our coach an hour to get in and out from a rest stop along the freeway. Jeez. I saw some people who parked their cars along the emergency lane to settle their urgent needs to go to the toilets. By the time we reached Phoenix Ancient City, it's already dinner time.
Visiting this ancient city definitely gives a really good insight to the life of a village prior to the onset of modernisation. Undoubtedly, this village is considered as one of the two most beautiful towns in China. Its primitive simplicity and natural beauty are simply stunning as a traditional Chinese painting comes to live. The village consists of the traditional stilt houses that are surrounded with green fields and bridges over the clear water of Tuojiang River. I was told by my tour guide that the lifestyle here hasn't changed for centuries where its simple-hearted residents are hardworking. I was very sad to learnt that this stunning beauty is going to be just a memory soon with the pacing modernisation taking place. With the increasing number of traditional stilt houses being replaced by modern buildings, the culture will be gone. I really hope that the government would do something to preserve this ancient city and its unique culture of the minority tribal groups who lived here for generations. The view of the ancient city during both daytime and night is equivalently gorgeous, each exhibiting their unique beauty.
Tips: There are plenty of bars and shops open until late for those who are interested to experience some nightlife in this ancient city.