Thank God, our driver did an excellent job negotiating through some small village path, after1.5 hours dead stop on the highway.
We were contemplating hiking from the foot of the mountain, following this path?
We voted. Result: 0-3.
What a relief!The cable car took us straight up, while I could see tiny hikers below, panting and sweating :)This saved us some 4 hour hike!
After alighting from the cable car, we immediately looked for a nice place for a photo shot.
After a short walk, we came to this place, a path turning toward the North peak, 北峰, 1615M.
Though the tourist guide recommended that we scale this peak, as it is the lowest and easiest, we decided to go for the tougher challenge:)
Looked dangerous, but we were equipped with hand gloves:)
We still had to clear another long narrow ascending trail, before the ultimate climb.
Perhaps, due to the severe traffic jam on the highway, the hikers were comparatively less than normal.
We were just lucky!
Wise people said, "Life is a journey, not a destination" Likewise, we did not rush to complete the hike.
We stopped quite often to admire the natural beauty of this place, like these autumn leaves.
Looking back, we could see the Northern Peak, which is at about our present height.
And the journey continued....
This is how it looked from inside.
As we emerged, the North Peak was clearly lower than us ;) What an achievement, we thought.....
Then, we began the real hike. This trail is called the vertebrate of Hua Shan, 華山龍脈
Climbing along the highest ridge all the way, we inched, step by step, not forgetting to stop and enjoy the breath taking views. Unobstructed in all directions, we experienced very strong, cold wind.
Turning back, this is the trail we just cleared, rather steep.
As I took this shot, a strong wind blew, and Julie's cap was sent flying.....
Luckily, I was fast enough to catch it before it fell into the valley.HK was not that lucky, and had to donate his new cap to some lucky hikers below:)
As we braved this stretch, we noticed that we had cleared 6800 steps.
However, the first part was with the help of cable car, hehe.
At this time, our young guide did not look good now. She was pale and tired, so we asked her to wait for us here, while we tried to reach the middle peak.
Time allocated for us was 1 extra hour!
Finally, we reached our destination!
This restaurant marked the center of the Central peak, the "5-cloud peak", 五云峰.
From here, We could then proceed to East, West or the highest South Peak, 南峰,2155M, but time was the concern ;(
Remember 射鵰英雄傳？東邪, 西毒, 南帝, 北丐，就在 華山論劍........
We came too late.....!
This position commands an excellent view of the 'vertebrate of Hua Shan", aligning it straight to the North Peak.
The beauty of the scenery here is beyond description.
We could meditate here for hours and hours....
Time flew, and it was time to descend.
We took a different path to enjoy the scenic view from a different angle.
Looking up, we could see hikers trailing the same ridge as we did. Seemed so steep, boy!
Soon, we were lower than the North Peak.
Should time permits, we planned to scale the North Peak when we descend, much to the worry of our tired guide.
Meanwhile, the colourful trees made us feel like staying longer.......;(
En route, we have to squeeze through this narrow crack:)
So we had a good look and then bid good bye to the beautiful 華山.
The Hua Shan Adventure is highly recommended!
Last day in Xi'an:
The highlight of this day was the visit to this newly excavated tomb of emperor 漢景帝，Han Jing Di.
There is an obvious improvement on the technology in the presentation and preservation of these smaller size terracotta( about 600mm high ).
They were enclosed in an environmentally controlled structure. This tomb is huge, and 13 holes were discovered. However, they have not dug out all yet.
Visitors walk on thick glass floor, and view the relics from the top.
These terracottas were originally silk clothed, and the arms were made of wood. Over the centuries, these wooden arms and clothes decayed, and only the clay bodies remained.
Interestingly, we saw hundreds of animal terracotta buried as well, goats, pigs, cattles, etc.
Also there were many big pots and pans, and other storage containers.....Guess the King wanted to ensure he will be well fed even after death.
Finally, we watched an impressive holographic projection bring ancient terracotta soldiers and emperor to live.
That brought our Xi'an tour to a grand finale. We visited some other attractions before flying back to Beijing.