After an early rise (for me, at least) and a delicious breakfast at around 08:00 in the morning, the helpful owner of the Hotel I was staying at brought me to the Enshi Grand Canyon Park entrance.
This place is excellent at their add-on game. The base park entrance price is already quite expensive, but if you want to take the cable car, funicular to the cable car, and the escalator down the mountain at the end, prepare to cough up roughly double.
Judging by the endless cattle pens, it can be jam-packed in high season.
The Grand Canyon park is split into two parts; first, there's the gorge at the base of the mountain range. You'll reach this with your additional funicular ticket.
The gorge was pretty nice but nearly impossible to photograph, with its lack of light and an incredibly bright sky above.
You'll pass multiple waterfalls and cross a bridge as you make your way up the stream.
At the end, you can either take the stairs or the elevator back up. Since I had the all-inclusive ticket, I did the latter.
You'll never get hungry on these touristy parts. I opted for some fried potatoes and a coffe.
From there, it was a short hike back to the Cable car station, and up the mountain I went.
Usually, I try to hike/walk wherever I go, but there's no fun in a three-hour hike full of steps up the mountain, only to end up at the cable car exit, greeted by people in t-shirts and sneakers. It just doesn't feel like an accomplishment versus ending up alone on a mountain peak.
At the top, you can pick multiple routes across the mountain range. I decided to stick to the edge, as it provided the best views.
The path is embedded into the mountainside, and the first part was relatively level.
That didn't last long, though, and soon it became a game of taking off layers on the way up and putting layers back on on the way down.
Not included in my all-inclusive package was the option to be carried around. Thank goodness, becuase that looks super awkward.
The views were really nice, but it wasn't as varied as I'd hoped. You see the same valley from the same angle, and it's only the valley you'll see.
I think the term Grand Canyon is only semi-correct; it's more of a large valley with a mountain ridge on one side that you'll follow.
You can see the gorge exit from there.
And while the views are nice, in hindsight, I'd probably have chosen a different destination, with a more traditional mountain and hikes. (Like I did a few days ago in Huang Shan).
The highlight of the park is this rock called “The burning incense stick”.
It looks like they are expanding the route and adding a large bridge between the two points here. I guess the entrance fee is getting put to use here.
All-inclusive ticket in hand, I descended the mountain through the longest set of escalators on earth, or so they claim. (It did take a good while!)
The shuttle bus took me back to the Cable car station, and since my Hotel was right next to it, I could exit through an employee-only gate, saving me a funicular ride to the park entrance.
I was back at the Hotel around 15:00 and decided not to spend the second night here.
The earliest train to Chongqing, my next destination, tomorrow was in the afternoon, meaning I'd only get to the city by evening (China is big!).
If I took a late evening train instead, I'd get a full day in Chongqing instead of a lost travel day.
Trying to explain this to the hotel owner (checking out early) took a bit of time; they kept insisting I'd ask for a refund on the site I booked the Hotel at, but I didn't think that was fair. It was waaay after checkout time, and every other Hotel would charge a day regardless. I'm also pretty sure I'm the only guest here.
After what can only be described as the worst DiDi (Chinese Uber) ride to the nearest train station by a driver that I suspect just traded in his horse and cart for an electric car a few days ago.
He drove fast where he shouldn't have and super slow everywhere else, even stopping at some point to apply some calming essence(?), which inspired confidence... not.
Somehow, I got to the train station on time and alive and was once again whisked away to another city at high speed.
In Chongqing I was a bit peckish and bought a filled dumpling, or so I thought.
Turns out I bought eight instead of just one.