What I do on assignment for Nat Geo Traveller - Qingchenshan.
If you have been following along on my write up of my latest assignment for NGTUK, you will know that I have spent an evening in Chengdu, just hanging out, and then travelled to Dujiangyan before finally reaching The Six Senses Resort and Spa. The single ticket from Chengdu to Dujiangyan cost about 10 pence for a 45 minute trip, are you listening train services and governments, that is properly subsidised public transport. I had enjoyed my massage and facial and was now feeling refreshed and ready to continue.
Walking is best when on assignment. It is slower, allows more time to explore and really feel the location, get a handle on the atmosphere, look around, you know, be there. I was not quite prepared for the climb ahead of me though, I have lived in Asia long enough to know better.
It isn't far to the foot of Qingchenshan from the hotel, but it is quite a trek to the top. My GPS indicated I had walked about 16km up to the top of the mountain from the resort, shuttle buses are available to the gate, but I didn't want to miss anything. Having walked all the way up, I caught the cable car back down, but was seriously feeling the fatigue later that afternoon. That is the next blog though, this one is the climb, the endless steps and the birthplace of Taoism.
My Taiwanese family practice Taoism, it is a religion, similar to Buddhism but not quite the same, it is very popular here in Taiwan. If you want to know more I would suggest looking here: Taoism. It is an ancient philosophical, ritualistic and spiritual religion, beautiful temples are all over Taiwan, they are pretty nice to visit and very chilled to hang out in, Longshan in Taipei is my favourite in the city. On Qingchenshan there is the eldest and some of the most beautiful I have visited. Now beauty isn't always because they are colourful, beauty comes in many forms and these are beautiful because of history, and the tangible feeling you get from that, you can almost taste the history it is so thick in the air.
So I will start at the foot of the Mountain and the walk to the gate...
A beautiful sea of yellow lines the shaded pathway to the start of the climb.
There are other options of places to stay, it is pretty, but it isn't The Six Senses.
The first gateway, it's not too much further to the top from here, only another 13km!
Through this and there is a chance to see your first temple, grab a bite and then head to the ticket office.
Entrance to Jianfu Palace, notice the restaurant and shop to the left.
The ticket office is just that, not too exciting but I was amused to see the throbbingly busy and well stocked tourist information booth...
And so with ticket, map and GPS I set off...
I would not advise making a purchase before you climb the many many steps, purchase on the way back and have less far to carry it.
I figured these were to help people who had succumb to the effort of the climb. There were lots of old people, so it made sense some people may get into trouble, and need mountain rescue.
Possibly stationed along the route in case a rapid response was needed?
I was so wrong, they were just for folks who can afford to pay to be carried and feel no shame in that. Maybe I am wrong, but being carried is one thing, spending the entire time on your phone in such a beautiful place really got my goat I have to say.
The guys doing the work seemed happy enough though, they must be super fit, imagine spending every day carrying tourists up and down mountains.
An ancient bridge helps me get my bearings on my way to the five caves, and the birthplace of Taoism.
Fashion finds its way up the mountain.
As you raise along the path, you travel through many temples.
The worn steps and moss covered stone wall really demonstrate the history and age of this serene place.
Refreshing Cucumber and Watermelon are available all along the journey. Make sure you take water and advantage of these refreshments as the going is not all easy.
The path winds down into a crease in the mountain side, you might not realise, but these are the five caves, and very busy with people moving through. Mind your head!
Near the top there is an amazing temple built into the mountain, it is fully constructed of wood. there is a small eatery and this fascinating building on the left here.
The entrance to the wood fronted cave temple.
It was a hazy, muggy day and the visibility was not great sadly, I bet on a clear day the view seems endless.
I reach the Shangging Palace the highest temple on my journey before heading back down the mountain.
Prayer candles flames flicker.
A pilgrim makes his prayers.
Giant incense sticks burn and red prayer ribbons adorn the trees and bushes all around the temple gods.
That was the end of my climb, I had to get back down the mountain and quickly too. That evening I wanted to be in Dujiangyan to make a photograph of the irrigation system. Fortunately for me there is a cable car and I was soon back to street level.
As I walked back to The Six Senses, I found the locals had the right idea, stinging hammocks in the shady trees by the river and paddling in the cool mountain water, what better way to spend a hot afternoon with the family. The locals always know the best spots....
Back in my room, a quick shower and a phone call to order a taxi then I was off to Dujiangyan, that is for next time though, so as ever I hope you enjoyed this. I hope that you are enjoying all from my little story about being on assignment for NGTUK, the next instalment will be in a couple of days.
All images in this piece were shot on my Fujifilm X-Pro2, it is a great travel camera, it shoots fashion pretty well too, I need to use it for some more of that, and show you the results.
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Feel free to get in touch, if you have a questions, bookings, assignments etc..
Love to all...