The Zhangjiajie region has soaring towers of quartz sandstone topped with tufts of vegetation. These rise to some spectacular heights with sheer vertical sides. It makes for the most amazingly breathtaking scenery and today it was our turn to go UP them.
I don’t really know what possessed me to think that this trip would be a good idea! It seemed fine when it was all theoretical from the safety of our sofa in Shanghai. But other people said they had enjoyed it, so now we’re here.
Those who know me well will know that as I have grown older, I have developed vertigo. I not only get scared of heights but I also don’t like other people going near the edges. I have even found myself holding the handrails every time I go down any steps or stairs.
It is a real nuisance and it has been getting gradually worse. I don’t like sheer drops. I don’t like going anywhere remotely near the edges and looking down makes my stomach clench in gut wrenching sickening spasms accompanied by cold sweats, heart palpitations and something akin to a panic attack. So why in the world would I agree to go on a trip here? The place in China that is famous for its heights! Not only that, I arranged the whole trip!!!
This morning as I faced the glass elevator gliding effortlessly up the sides of the mountain I asked myself that very question. Was I out of my tiny mind? Did I really think that I could do this?!? What on earth possessed me?!?!
It is nothing if not HIGH. See…
But by now there was no turning back. I had committed to this and I was determined to do it! No matter how hard and how scary it was. Not only was I about to step into a great glass elevator in a Roald Dahl-esc way but I was then going to spend all day wandering around on the tops of these monoliths!!!
Here I was doing one of my least favorite things but I did, have one secret weapon in my campaign against vertigo. I have been learning Taiji.
There are a great many benefits to Taiji but one of them is improved balance. I had noticed that over the course of the 10 months that I have been learning, that my balance has improved noticeably. I can now do all the standing on one leg exercises without wobbling much at all! My core feels stronger and I generally feel more stable. I have been delighted with this and I was banking on that being a huge factor in what was causing the physiological reactions when it comes to heights.
The views up here were stunning and spectacular
But we were high. Oh boy we were high!!!
Now normally even just a photo of this kind of drop would have me sweating and feeling peculiar. But I was ok (ish)
Look I went near the edges (sort of) I’m rocking it.
Actually I am pretty proud of myself for managing this. Only months ago and I wouldn’t have even entered the glass elevator never mind stood as close to the edge as this.
So, to celebrate I did some Taiji. It really helps to keep me calm, balanced and focused. Was i scared? You bet. But I did it anyway. I was up there. Not maybe as close as everyone else. And I certainly didn’t lean over the rail like others did or anything stupidly ridiculous like that. But I did it.
And the Taiji had really helped.
Then came the big test. The GLASS BRIDGE
This was easily the most terrifying part of the entire holiday. I had seen previous news reports of a tourist being trapped on a glass bridge in China during a gale when the glass panels blew off (possibly my worst nightmare). What on earth was he doing out there in a storm anyway?!?! He had to be airlifted off and I cannot imagine how he felt being buffeted about over a gaping void.
So it was with some trepidation that I approached THE BRIDGE…
We were surprised to see the grandstand at this end as we didn’t think that crossing a glass bridge was a spectator event!!
We were not allowed to bring heavy cameras on the bridge, only phones and I could not bring my flask of water. We were told that it was in case the heavy items dropped and cracked the glass!!! Hearing that did not exactly inspire my confidence in the strength of the structure!!
But I was determined to do it. We had to wear special overshoes to protect the glass.
And then it was off. As you can see from the picture below, the glass is interspersed with metal sections so my plan was to walk briskly on those parts and not to look down. The other end seemed to be very far away!
It worked though. I kept my focus on the destination and did not dare look at the drop below. Others strolled and admired the view but I had one goal and one goal only – to make it across to the other side.
People got in my way but I didn’t deviate. I waited for them to move. At one point everyone was crowded round a couple of panels which I later learned was the bungy jumping view point. Like this.
Mad fools!!! Then I made it!!! I got all the way across. Kevin helped and held my hand for some of it. And he wanted a couple of photos to prove that I had done it. On the glass.
It was quite an achievement and although I was pretty sweaty by the time I reached the end I was really pleased that I had made it! All thanks to Taiji.
I did though draw the line at the zip wire descent. You can have too much of a good thing!!! Maybe with another year of lessons I might be more able to do that.
Just when I thought that it was all over, I discovered that we had to traverse a glass walkway that wound along the cliffside in order to get down!!! They wanted a group photo but this was as near to the edge as I was willing to get!!!
Huge thanks to my fellow adventurers for permission to use their photos as I wasn’t up for doing any photography myself!!!