After the great flooding in Xiaoyao Valley, also known as Monkey Valley, a lot of pathways and bridges were destroyed and till today not restored. The bus station in the valley is fine, but if you want to walk the path up to the golden top, the valley may conceal some dangers which are important for tourists to know.
First of all the travel through this valley is not recommended and officially prohibited. After walking the valley many many times before the flooding, I felt eager to try it with a group of advanced students. Here I want to share with you what happened:
We encountered a big black snake and a short-legged deer-like creature. The valley seems to be the home of many wild animals since the pathway is closed down. We discovered a little trail beside the destroyed main path used by local farmers. The main path is mostly destroyed and often covered in plants since nobody takes care of the valley for two years.
There are three borderline situations where our group had to cross broken bridges. Beyond all safety concerns, crossing them was really dangerous. At certain places, you have nothing to hold with your hands and it is a balancing act on a small concrete pillar. Do not try this valley when you are afraid of heights.
Usually when the valley was in good condition I could cross it in 3 hours and 30 minutes. But since the valley was halfways broken and we often had to climb up the riverbed we took 5 hours and 15 minutes.
The vast mountain range of Wudang has been since a long time a place for inspiration and Daoist beliefs. Those who work on improving oneself find a deep bond with the spirits in this area. This post is all about my impressions when I visited the Wudang Mountain area. If you like a picture you can click on it for purchasing a license, nice prints for your wall or a postcard for your friends!
I shot many more pictures that day! From Chen Shiyu and with other friends! Check them all out here!
Every Wednesday is a performance day at Yuan Xiu Gang’s school, the performances were going till 11am and the rest of the day is basically free. So that is a nice opportunity to go to the city and check things out! (click on the images to buy a license, print or postcard!)
Yu Xu Gong in its full tranquility! We had the luck that there were no other people.
We also went behind the old school’s mountain path! There is a small farming village alongside the river.
Wudangshan is a place full of traditions with untouched as well as highly commercialized areas. China has always a bit of everything.
A lot changed in three years
The suburban district of Wudangshan is within the town Shiyan. In the past, it consisted of bumpy roads and walking paths. The shopping street used to be a crowded marketplace for the locals, now it is closed for vendors and became a western-style shopping street with official restaurants and stores.
China cut the budget of Wudangshan
The gold rush in Wudangshan started around two years ago, where the government decided to put a lot of money in investing for the Wudang tourist area as well as in the Taiji lake area. At some point between this and last year, the budget was cut and therefore we see now a lot of unfinished buildings in these areas. Most of these buildings are beginning to rust and crumble, nobody knows what will happen to them or if they ever finish.
The returning dragon temple is about to be repaired!
Great news in Huilongguan for Master Chen Shiyu, there is a new renovation project for the ancient temple, which has been burned down during the revolution. Right now there is a huge construction site, but the temple still seems to be accessible.
News in Yuxu Gong
Yuxu Gong got an artificial mountain area in front of the Zhen Wu shrine. Some may like it or not, for me the old temple was fine the way it is. The wavy paths around the main area have also been renovated. Right in front of the Yuxu main entrance, you can still get the best noodles for breakfast.
Master Ziji’s plans in Wudangshan 2019
Right now I study with the Chinese traditional class to work on my basics. During my training, I have a very nostalgic feeling and I enjoy the class very much. I have been with Xiao Yun a long time and I am happy that he is once again my coach during the basic training. Philipp, one of my best students also is participating in the traditional class after giving Xiao Yun my recommendation. I have high hopes for him and our development.
After a long and enduring flight, we finally arrived at the Beijing airport. From there on we decided to go by Airport Express to the subway system of China.
What awaited us:
We have been foolish to forget “May Day” in China – which is a public festival during 1st till 4th of May. Meaning the inner district in which we originally planned to arrive was closed off due to security reasons. The inner parts of Beijing were crowded while the other parts of Beijing were mostly closed and empty. Finding out that it was not the best time for a group of foreigners to arrive we did the best we could.
All hotels in the center were full for this reason and so we could only do a reservation for one Chinese hotel in front of the Tiantan Road – The Temple of Heaven Road. Interesting enough the hotel was quite central but from the infrastructure not in the best place, we were the first hotel in front of the Temple of Heaven.
Finding fast and reliable internet
We could not check-in the Hotel before 1pm but we arrived way earlier at around 7 am. So I first goal after leaving our luggage in the hotel was to find reliable internet. Next to the Temple of Heaven is Qianmen – the inner area and car-free zone of Beijing’s central district. At the front entrance of Qianmen is a Starbucks coffee – which fortunately does offer fast Wifi. The only thing needed to be done is to register your foreign phone number and receive a confirmation code per SMS.
On our way through Beijing
Here are some pictures I made as we pass through some areas:
Visiting the Temple of Heaven
During our next day we decided to visit Tiantan – the Temple of Heaven, we spend several hours inside before we went to the Railway Station West:
Both parties arrived successfully at Yuan Xiu Gang’s and Chen Shiyu’s school. Stay tuned for more information from our experiences.
The hanging solution for mosquito nets proved useful for the school apartments in Wudang. I simply needed a simple cord to attach this mosquito net over my bed.
Must Have No.2
Camping Light, LESHP Portable Ultra Bright 8800mAh Power Bank, IP65
This camping light proved extremely useful in the nights. I can just attach it to my pants or another part of clothing and find my way to the toilet – which is usually extremely pitch black. Since most Wudang schools are in the countryside, there is mostly no street illumination. Besides, this lamp is dust and water proof and has a nice big power bank for its size, and this makes it possible to illuminate a room for longer terms even when you have a power outage – which happens every time by the way during a thunderstorm.
The Artic Breeze Mobile USB Fan is a cooling beast for its size! This fan is by far the strongest and most powerful USB fan I ever had, and the cool thing is that it is entirely compatible with the camping lamp above (power bank function) which has a full sized USB slot! I found this product extremely useful during my travel on the train from Beijing to Wudangshan. You should also consider that in the Summer you usually do not have ventilation in your apartment, and then you end up with buying a full sized ventilator in China anyway. The power of this fan is incredible, and for one person this USB fan is more than enough – skip your ventilator purchase in China and get this one instead.
The Tatonka Barrel Roller, 80 Liter version, is the perfect solution for traveling by plane and train through China. Tatonka manufactures robust duffle bag designs on two wheels, roll it in the airport and carry it up the mountains! The two duffle bag holders can be used as backpack strings for easy carrying. This crossover solution of a trolley with two wheels and backpack is one of the only quality solutions on the market, even after checking through the airport multiple times the Tatonka Barrel Roller can withstand the hardships of airport workers and mountaineers.
There are many mountain rivers and plenty of contaminated water in Wudang. If you want to make sure, you need to use a water filter. Lifestraw is a quality brand and can be trusted to protect you from viruses, germs, and bacteria. This water filter is a must buy for first timers in Wudang, since you are guaranteed to have diarrhea without it! First time I tough boiling the water is enough, but unfortunately, it isn’t! Do not fill this bottle with boiling water, first boil it and let it cool down before filling it in.
I use the Anker Sound Core mostly for my outdoor Vblogs and performances. I tested several from other brands and came to the solution that Anker provides the best full sound experience. Most mini speakers need to be placed in a corner to provide better sound, but this is not the case with the Anker Sound Core – place it anywhere you want and get consistent sound results. If you plan on making videos in Wudang with background music this is a must have!
In China you cannot find proper shaving utensils, do not attempt to buy a shaver in China they simply don’t work for a beard. However, you can find the old fashioned razor blades for a low price in any supermarket. The Twin Blade uses two razor blades at once and gives you a nice and smooth shaving experience without irritating your skin. There is no shaving foam in China, and this is why I want one swipe to be as efficient as possible.
In the summer Wudang reaches up to 43 degrees (109,4 Fahrenheit), you will need a proper sun hat. This Boonie is authentic US Army quality and may last a lifetime, extremely durable and withstanding. There are two colors to choose! I have a 61cm head circumference which is large, and this hat fits perfectly in XL. Packaging is easy; the hat can be rolled and takes almost no space in your luggage.
Must Have No.8
Milool Travel Adapter
The Milool travel adapter is by far the top quality product if you want to be portable and compatible in China. I chose this because of the strong build quality and the additional two USB charging ports. Charge your phone, tablet, laptop or whatever over the USB connection while plugging in other devices. No edges or plugs are sticking out when packaged – making it my top choice for travel adapters.
It is very sunny in Wudangshan and I always needed polarizing sunglasses during the summer. It makes it easy to see when polarizing glasses eliminate the glare. I chose a classic design that even my girlfriend can wear. No matter what you do – this glasses always look cool! Full alloy metal frame and superior build quality – top choice!
The Salomon Speed Assault shoe is optimized for wet and muddy terrain, perfect for subtropical climates like Wudangshan. The shoe is waterproof, light and for hot weather conditions. I use this shoes myself and they never let me down, my feet were always dry and properly ventilated. The thing is you usually can’t find hiking shoes as light as the Salomon Speed Assault, they are the lightest fully functional hiking shoes in the world, which makes going up the mountains fairly easy. I can jump and run around all I want without getting tired as fast, the shoes have a very strong grip giving you a very secure feeling in the mud. The Salomon Speed Assault shoes are extremely limited; I only found these three sizes available!
If you are looking for durable pants with stretching material – you found it! The Stryke pants from 5.11 are the most comfortable survival pants in the market. These pants are functional for climbing and hiking, the material is super stretchable and highly elastic, there is also a Teflon layer protecting the material from dirt. You have plenty of space in your pockets for everything including your passport – no extra bag required for short town visits in Wudang!
There were plenty of moments where I needed my survival rope. With this, I montaged my mosquito net where I wanted and built furniture with bamboo with this cord. Most things in China can be fixed with this, and it became my universal tool for fixing things or montage things into position. I also hang my wet clothing on this cord for drying.
If you plan to go swimming in monkey valley – yes there is a beautiful mountain path on the left route that leads up to a clear river straight from the top, the perfect place for swimming! There are many other locations where you can swim, most of them are small mountain streams with very sharp cliffs and stones in the water. So you want protection for your feet. I used this shoes whenever we were going to swim with all students, while they laughed at me first – my advantage was soon clear. They have all sizes up to 47!
Wudang is a subtropical environment, so there will be plenty of rain while the climate remains hot. You need a light rain protection with small packaging size. This is where the Vaude Valdipino Poncho comes into play! The quality build is good for a surprising rain when you want to go up the mountain. The poncho is very comfortable, and you have a proper cap over your head. There are many sizes available!
I hope you enjoyed my little tour! All these products proofed very usefully during my stay in the Wudang Mountains!