We got our answer: humid and fresh. On our first full day we started by preparing our backpacks and heading for the grand canyon. There were three possible routes to take, two descending down into the gorge, and one ascending to the top of the mountain wall. We started by descending into the gorge. There is a precipitous drop in the earth, and it’s like the land was divided by an earthquake. The walls drop vertically and they measure about 100-150 m in height from the bottom of the canyon. The smell at the bottom of the canyon resembles a rain forest. There was a heavy thunderstorm that day and lightning struck right above us into the ground for several hours. The cliff wall contained small crevices where we went to wait for the rain to cease. Water was flowing down from above, and it was fascinating to watch from crevices located behind the waterfalls. There was white water flowing at the bottom of the gorge, shaping the stones making them look like they were some kind of mythical creatures. One spot was called “Stone Fox teaching his son” (two stones looking like animals, one bigger, pointing towards the water where the smaller one was located in the middle of the flow) and another “Dragons playing in the water” (stalactites hanging from the cliff wall above the water, resembling dragons’ heads).

Despite the thunderstorm, we spent several hours traversing the bottom of the canyon. (It’s possible that we were too fascinated to notice any fatigue.) After this, we still had some energy to explore the mountaintop, which was located about 1500 m above the gorge. It was fascinating to watch the thunderstorm from above, raging about underneath in the canyon. I suspect these kinds of storms are common here, as humid air gets trapped in the crevice and cool, dry air is flowing downwards from the mountain into the gorge. The view from above is breath-taking. The mountains are very oddly shaped, like cylinders, and with plants growing on top. They resemble incense sticks or cones. At the top, there were warning signs for tourists with heart problems, fear of heights, claustrophobia or high blood pressure, urging them to take a specific route. I can see why: the route descended along the vertical mountain wall, with only a small wooden pathway as a passage. It’s a feeling like no other to know that there’s nothing underneath you but air, the ground disappearing somewhere underneath the storm clouds. I wonder how the builders were able to construct the path here, in the midst of nothing but air and a vertical cliff. There were many spots where the path ran in from a cave opening, and you had to push yourself through the small crevice, about 70 cm wide and several dozens of metres long. It was exhilarating, and I’m sure I will return to this wonder of nature some day.

When we returned, our host had made us some local-style hot pot with special herbs. We learned that the head of a fish is a delicacy. I was very glad that my friend got to experience a real Chinese hot pot dinner. There aren’t any real hot pot restaurants in Finland yet, and I’m waiting for one to be established. I’d start one myself, if I wasn’t a terrible cook. I’d be more than happy to work as a taster, though!

Mili

PS. The featured image shows a local tea picker. Enshi-made green tea has a very refined taste. Many people say they don’t like green tea, because it’s bitter. In this case, the green tea has usually been destroyed. If it’s brewed like “normal” black tea (= too hot water, soaked for too long), the delicate flavour is destroyed. Green tea needs to be brewed for a maximum of one minute, with a water temperature at about 70 ‘C. With white tea, even less — about 30 seconds, the temperature at about 50-60 ‘C. Also, many people drink processed “green tea” packed in bags. Loose tea isn’t as processed, which makes it a better choice, and I hope all of my readers get to try some properly made green or white tea.

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