The Grand Canyon that Keeps on Giving: Zhangjiajie, Hunan, Day Three

On our third day in Hunan we travelled to the Grand Canyon of Zhangjiajie and the Glass bridge that is suspended over it. This is about an hour bus journey from where we were staying and was not included in our National Forrest Park ticket. We decided to check out of our hostel in the valley and move to a hostel closer to the airport and Tianmen mountain for the last two days of our trip. The hostel staff allowed us to leave our luggage with them while we were out for the day as we weren’t relocating until the evening and also allowed me to put my DSLR camera behind the check in desk as you aren’t allowed cameras on the Glass Bridge (honestly I cannot recommend this hostel enough if you are visiting Zhangjiajie, they are super helpful and friendly and they have a dog… what more could you ask for?).

 

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I’m not scared, you’re scared!

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for this particular day, I have a slight fear of heights and the idea of walking over a bridge entirely made of glass was giving me a bit of worry. We allowed ourselves half a day for the bridge and canyon combined, as we had a trip to Baofeng lake planned for the afternoon. If you can I would recommend giving yourself a full day for this experience as there is a lot to pack in! When arriving at the bridge make sure to enter within your allocated time slot that you were given when booking your ticket, the tickets are split into different entry times throughout the day to control the flow of people that pass over the bridge at a time. We were told that it was easy enough to change your time slot once you arrived at the entrance but we were rushed through the barriers in order to get through our gate at the right time, so I am not sure how true this actually is, in any case better safe than sorry. Once you are in, however, you can spend as much time on the bridge as you feel necessary, we ended up on there for an hour!!

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You need to wear shoe protectors on the bridge. They give you them for free before you get on and there is a bucket to leave them in on the way out.
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Luckily for me the bridge wasn’t completely glass!

Although named “the Glass Bridge” the reality is only sections of the bridge are glass. The rest is solid metal and I have to say I was kind of glad of this considering my fear of heights. It took me a little while to get used to but eventually, with the help of Justin, Mat and Karin, I managed to ease my way onto one of the glass sections of the bridge. Everything about standing that high up and being able to see teeny tiny people directly underneath your feet feels completely wrong, but it was an absolutely incredible experience at the same time! As is the norm in China we were stopped by multiple Chinese tourists and asked for our photographs, the boys’ gymnastics drew in quite a crowd, and of course we obliged, even stopping to have a chat with one of the guys who seemed just as excited to be talking to us as he was to be on the glass bridge.

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Don’t look down!
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Ok this isn’t so bad after all…
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I had to hold all of their hands to get onto this glass…

 

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How to draw in a crowd…
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Not as scary as it looks

While the bridge is the main attraction of Zhangjiajie’s Grand Canyon, it is far from all it has to offer. Once off the bridge you make the long descent down into the canyon itself. About half way down there is the option to take an elevator the rest of the way, since we were on a time limit we decided to take this option (really a missed opportunity for a glass elevator if you ask me). From the canyon floor the bridge looks ridiculously high up! The silhouettes of the people walking across the glass sections appear to be no larger than ants and the stark contrast of their black outlines against the overcast sky was staggering.

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About a quarter of the way down the canyon wall.
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Those little black dots are people!
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At the bottom (classic run into shot before the timer function counts down from 10 pic…)

This is where the true natural beauty of the Canyon begins to reveal itself. First with a waterfall that has burst it’s way through the side of the canyon wall appearing, as if from nowhere, about half way from the top. From this point every corner we turned revealed another surprise; from turquoise blue water to a zip line over the river and an ornate stone bridge to “Smuggler’s Cave”, all finally leading to a boat ride out of the canyon itself. This really is a full day out and somehow we managed to squeeze it all into half a day!

 

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Quick take the photo before I fall off this rock!
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You never know when you’ll need an umbrella

Baofeng lake was formed when the faults leading into the area were sealed up with concrete and the water level was allowed to rise. It is about 72 meters deep on average and covers around 15 hectares. It looks like a scene straight out of “Jurassic Park”; the water is an unbelievable shade of blue and the sand stone quartz pillars that Zhangjiajie is famous for tower above the lake, making it a walled off paradise on a good day. Even though it was overcast when we visited, the emerald green/turquoise water was still enough to take your breath away! The best way to see the lake is by taking a tour boat that lasts around 30 minutes, just don’t expect to understand anything unless you are fluent in Mandarin. Really though it was enough to just sit back and take in the beauty of the scenery, and the occasional Chinese folk singer who appeared from wooden huts on the lake as the boat drifted past…

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Boat tour round Baofeng Lake.
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Boats on Baofeng Lake

Check out the Vlog from the this day here: https://youtu.be/aAgK7bx4Tp0

Trip Info:

  • Zhangjiajie 1982 Chujian International Youth Hostel: 135 yuan (£15 for 3 nights) http://www.booking.com/Share-ayycez 
  • Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and Glass Bridge: 297 yuan (about £34) tickets are provided on a time slot basis and you must enter within your allocated time, no entry after 4:20pm.
  • Zip line through the valley: 30 yuan per person (about £3)
  • Baofeng lake: 98 yuan (about £9)
  • Zhanjiajie National Forest park ticket: 248 yuan (about £27.60) allows entry to the park for 4 days.
  • Local Bus: 10 yuan each way (about £1 per ticket)

 

 

Freshers Flu

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Source: lsesu.tumblr.com

This time last year I was a genuine fresher, I’d hardly drank a drop of alcohol in my life (it was reserved for special occasions *rolls eyes*). I moved into halls and I stocked up on everything I possibly could to prevent myself from catching the dreaded Freshers Flu. I was terrified of being ill for my first proper week of “independent life”. I had been receiving emails daily with valuable tips for surviving in the big bad world of University but nothing scared me more than the one about Freshers Flu.

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Source: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Freshers%20flu

The only time I had been badly ill away from home, before I moved to Halls, was when I got the flu in South Africa. That wasn’t even that bad because my in country support worker was a saint who force fed me Lemsip and covered me in blankets to sweat it out of me ( I know, disgusting right, apologies if you are eating just now). This was completely different, if I got ill in Halls I was on my own! So i was overly protective of my immune system, I took a vitamin C tablet every morning with a glass of orange juice, I stocked up on carrots and I made sure I drank plenty of water after nights out to try and avoid hangovers. If I am totally honest I don’t think I have ever taken better care of myself as I did in freshers week, and it worked! I successfully avoided Freshers Flu.

So what in the world happened this time around!?

Source: confessionalprofessionaldramaqueen.blogspot.com
Source: confessionalprofessionaldramaqueen.blogspot.com

Its not that I thought I was immune, god only knows that I catch every cold that is going around, its more that the thought never even crossed my mind! The one thing I was most worried about last year had completely slipped my mind.  I had actually let myself run out of orange juice (I know shocker right), it had been a long time since I even looked at the vitamin section when I went food shopping and I can not remember the last time I bought a carrot… *

I let my guard down, I drank just as much as usual but I forgot that freshers spread germs just by breathing! No offence if you are a fresher…its true though. Next year I vow to be fully stocked up on all cold preventing tools, I will not be ill for my first week back to uni!!

*Don’t worry mum I do eat vegetables, its just I never know what to do with carrots 😛

The Lizzie Mcguire Movie Scarred Me For Life

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This post is inspired by the fact that I had no idea what to wear this morning, its not a massive occasion, I am just away to meet a friend for coffee but still the task was almost to much for me to handle.

OK so maybe the title of this post is slightly over dramatic but seriously that movie gave me issues!

I love Lizzie Mcguire as a kid, we didn’t have sky at home but whenever I went to my granny’s house I would hope and pray that it would be on the disney channel. Not only did I love Lizzie Mcguire but I loved the actor who played her, Hillary Duff, I just thought she was the coolest person ever! I still have her first album. It only make sense, therefore, that I learnt a lot of life lessons from watching the show and when the film came out I was all over it, also still own the dvd.

Now that you hopefully understand how seriously I took the Lizzie Mcguire show, the rest of this post might make some sense to you. If you have never been exposed to the wonder world of Lizzie (I like to think we know each other well enough to be on a first name basis) then I shall explain the basics of the show. Pretty much it is about a teenage girl going through school with her two best friends. In the movie they are graduating and Lizzie is searching frantically for a graduation outfit in her wardrobe. She pics out a lovely blue dress that goes perfectly with her graduation gown.

She gets to graduation and is walking down to take her seat with her friend Gordo when suddenly Lizzie’s enemy shouts out “Lizzie Mcguire is an outfit repeater!” it turns out that the beautiful dress that she is wearing was a dress that she had worn to a dance not that long ago! Nightmare right?

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This scene right here has stuck with me into my “adult life”, I can not repeat an outfit. I just can’t do it. The fear of being publicly shamed is imbedded deep into my brain and does not allow me to wear the same outfit twice within a two month period. What if someone remembers that I wore it to that party two weeks ago? What if they tell everyone?

I know I know, who cares?! I don’t care if anyone I know repeats an outfit, I would never judge someone for wearing the same outfit, not even two days in a row, but I just can not do it. The Lizzie Mcguire movie scarred me for life!

I just googled the Lizzie Mcguire movie and the scene I was so scarred by is not even mentioned in the plot for the film!

Morocco – 17th of June

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A lot of sand chaining happened today (pretty much we lined up and passed buckets of sand down the chain and then the empty buckets back up the chain). Some people were also continuing with cement mixing and wall building. I have to say that chains really are the most efficient way of moving heavy things about that I have ever seen. I think this method should be used a lot more than it is being used now. It definitely taught me about team work and how important communication with in it (I’ll be using that lines in future interview *winky face*).
Between Lunch and tea we got to meet some of the children from the village, we took the parachute out that Imogen had brought with her and taught them some games. We also taught them the “Hokey Kokey” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. They sang us the National Anthem of Morocco, a song about a cat who had his piece of fat stolen by a dog and then they started singing Shakira’s 2010 world cup song “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) much to our surprise, off course we joined in and they seemed equally surprised. It was a great moment

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We really wanted them to do some dancing but they were to shy because some of the older boys were watching, so we decided to do the Macarena and Abdul got them all to join in which was so much fun, even though we didn’t know the words at all! After a long discussion with the group one of the yonder boys ran off , when we asked why he had run away they told us he had gone to get a drum. The boys then started singing with a beat from the drum and also a squashed, empty Pringles can that was rhythmically being hit on a stone by one of the children. It was amazing to listen to and very hard not to dance to.

It was great to finally meet the children who were going to be using the education centre once it was complete. I think it definitely showed me that all the stress from fundraising and saving and organising transport down to London was worth every single minute of the time I had put into it…

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TO BE CONTINUED

Love and Ketchup

“I love you more than Ketchup” – if I say this to you feel special. Seriously. My love for ketchup knows no bounds, it is the first thing I ask for in a restaurant, it is the first thing I put on my Asda delivery, it is the last thing I think about before I go to sleep…ok maybe that’s a bit far but you get the idea. I have an addiction.

Today I put Ketchup on my curry. I was judged, severely. I enjoy ketchup with my curry it gives it a bit of extra flavour and also cools down those accidental extra hot disasters. Even the one person who loves ketchup as much as I do questioned my decision when the bottle left the fridge. I guess it just comes down to personal taste, obviously I am alone in the world when it comes to ketchup and curry.

“If I could marry them I would, but I think that would be a bit illegal.” – Evie on Olives…I can’t stand olives. See? Personal taste, it just so happens that my personal taste is a bit on the stranger side of normal.

I’m looking for the one who understands and accepts this. Then and only then will I say “I love you more than Ketchup.”

How I Made It Through Semester 1

So I am now half way through my first year at Grey’s and so far so good. I passed my first semester with a grade B and I have made life long friends that I honestly don’t know what I would do without.

That doesn’t mean it’s been easy though, the first day I moved into student halls was terrifying. I honestly think I couldn’t be more socially awkward if I tried, not to mention I already knew I was 2 and a bit years older than my youngest flat mate Alison. As it turns, I shouldn’t have worried, I’m one of the lucky ones blessed with a flat full of wonderful people, minus the one who doesn’t speak…

In total there are seven of us in our flat but unfortunately one of our flat mates never did warm up to us and spends most of her time out of the flat or in her room…sometimes we wonder when she eats, or even if she eats. Maybe she is secretly a vampire, but I’m wondering off on a tangent here. Anyway about my flat mates, I don’t even know where to start! So I guess we shall go alphabetically by room letter shall we?

Room A: Evie, I am fortunate enough to be living in a flat with someone on the same course as me which makes life a hell of a lot easier for both of us. Evie was the first person from my flat that I found, thanks to the powers of Facebook, before we moved in. She was just as scared as I was which was a relief and she was also panicking about how on earth she was going to fit all of her clothes into the tiny wardrobes that are provided for us. Lucky there is plenty of floor space which is where her clothes usually end up when preparing for an night out on the town! If you want to know about obscure, folky, irish sounding bands Evie is the girl to go to. Her iTunes is filled with the most chilled out music which is great to sit and do work to in the kitchen, which we often dominate due to the crazy scale we are sometimes asked to work at. She is a lovely, caring person with the inability to get properly mad at people without giggling, also she comes in handy when I fall asleep in lectures and need to be woken up due to the fact I am snoring…

Room B: well thats just me 🙂

Room C: Rachel, Studying the social sciences she loves nothing more than to make fun of mine and Evie’s course because we just draw pictures (really it’s much more than that). This girl has more nail varnish and make up than Boots and Superdrug combined, I have had to rescue her from the Benefit counter once this week already! Also an awesome cook, she made us the best christmas dinner of cola marinated, honey roasted ham, it sounds unusual but trust me on this it was amazing. Another flat member who didn’t know how her clothes collection was going to fit in her room, it is impossible for me to go shopping with Rachel and not buy anything. Unlike Evie and I she is extremely organised, I have rarely seen her room in a mess, and the sight of mine stresses her out to the point I don’t think she has ever stayed in it longer than five minutes. She doesn’t like hugs or children but has a big heart and did I mention how jealous I am of her hair, dip dyed teal!

Room D: Alison, the youngest member of our little family, just recently turned 18, she is one smart cookie studying Radiography, which I can hardly even spell. Probably the only one of us who didn’t struggle to get her clothes in her wardrobe, but i think that might be changing with our bad influence… I’m quite impressed by her patience during freshers week I can’t imagine how annoying it must have been to watch everyone go out while she had to stay in, that didn’t stop her having fun though and I have photographic evidence. But now she is 18 and she will experience the cramped sardine can that is a night club and hopefully have a good time! Alison is a good listener and has, unfortunately for her, been there for a couple of my emotional break downs…uni does that to you.

Room E: Angie, studying PR, if I wasn’t doing art I would love to study her course, it just seems so interesting. This girl is crazy, but in the best way. Known to us as the grumpy teenager it is best to stay away when she is hung over. Despite this reputation she is the one who quite literally catches me when I fall, I have a tendency to faint which has lead to her cradling me on the ground outside a certain Aberdeen club which shall remain nameless to protect my dignity. Angie is the one with all the dance moves, which most of us have picked up apparently. It is a common site to see our group doing the “Angie dance” which can only be described as a zombie, robot type action, it’s a lot better than it sounds…

Room F: The one who doesn’t speak…

Room G: Leanne, Studying children’s nursing, is the flat mum. Always there to look after us and make sure we turn the hob off after cooking! Leanne such a happy person with an amazing laugh, seriously I can’t even explain how contagious it is. I thought that I would be the one in and out of  A&E at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (especially after being taken there in my first week of uni…life drawing classes are just to warm) but Leanne holds that record, my favourite story is when she sprained her ankle and we got to go home in a police van, obviously the downside to that story was how much pain she was in, and police officers do not know how to drive slowly on cobbled roads! This girl also has the best music on her phone, it’s pre-drinking law that her phone is put on in our flat before a night out. Also good if we are just chilling in the kitchen, however her power can also be used for evil, she put Cheryl Cole on the other night…I left the room.

It is safe to say I would not have survived the later half of 2013 without these ladies and for that I owe them a massive thank you. They were there for the good times but stuck around for the bad times too and I know exactly what they are going to say about this post if they read it but I don’t care I just wanted to get it out there that the trick to surviving university is to surround yourself with good friends and don’t be afraid to let them in. It is something that I have always struggled with but I took a chance this year and I am glad I did.