By Jhodi Bennett (Jamaica)
Being born and grown in the beautiful island of Jamaica, I was only socialized to think that a country's beauty of one's country is defined by quality of its water features and ecotourism. My four day trip with my fellow photographers and my wonderful new-found Chinese native friends, was beyond any words could describe. The three major scenic spots I had the honor of seeing were Shiniu Village National Geopark in Yueyang, Dawei Mountain in Liuyang and Hengshan Mountain in Hengyang City.
In Yueyang, we visited Shiniu Village National Geopark. What made a great impression on me was the bridge. Here, strategically placed was a none like any other bridge between two mountain peaks hundreds of meters above ground. Majority of the flooring was made with wood that was painted rustic red but the climax of crossing the bridge was when I came upon the quarter that had the glass flooring. While crossing the bridge I was able to see the captivating view miles below. Another notable feature of the bridge was its frame made of twisted iron and steel which made me feel safe above ground but the swaying moments were a bit hard to get used to. After leaving the bridge we walked along the edge of the mountain peaks enjoying the stunning view outwards and below. This is a place I would definitely revisit with or without accompaniment.
Dawei Mountain in Liuyang
Dawei Mountain in Liuyang was breath-taking! I absolutely loved every moment on this specific part of the expedition. Dawei Mountain was notable cooler than all other scenic spots with the sun rays glaring down on the group at all points on the mountain. What more could I ask for? The lush marvelous view, great friends and flavorful food provided right there on location. Not only was the air fresh but the tunic sounds of the waterfall falling on the rocks made for a pleasant sound to the ear and soothing to the mind. The driving route however was steep, wind-swept and meandering.
Hengshan Mountain and Nanyue Temple in Hengyang City
Hengshan Mountain is arguable one of China’s most sacred mountain. It is located in Hengyang City and claims to have approximately 72 peaks ready and willing to be explored. Mountain ranges were spectacular as the sun glare pierce through the fluffy pillow-like clouds against the skyline. The air was rather pure and I felt alive and ready to take on the upcoming hike. I believe the most photogenic spot, as the lighting here was beyond perfect. We visited temples and other cool spots available. We visited one of the peaks which held a massive temple at the top. It was place right on the pinnacle making it a centre piece and the beautiful skies as though it was a stunning accented piece.
At the Nanyue Temple was full of life as loved one came to pray and worship. I was rather intrigued! It was the first time I have ever seen two different religions share similar compounds or property. The respect that both Buddhist and Taoist shared for each other really made me realize the true definition of coexistence. There was a lot of culture and artifacts present and the true Chinese influence could be felt. This last stop was truly a learning experience and a grateful one at that.
On two separate occasions, I had the unfortunate incident of leaving a valuable item behind, but the most amazing thing I have discovered throughout my expedition tour was all scenic spots were tourist friendly. All lost items were returned and therefore I would recommend all these sites to anyone. The guides were customer friendly and all locations were within a reasonable distance from the capital city Changsha making them relatively accessible. I considered myself fortunate to have experienced such a empowering and life changing experience and also to meet so many awesome people. The next upcoming holiday I will be exploring more of my beloved province. I was amazed at how all the chosen scenic spots were stunning, breath-taking and picturesque. I love Hunan!