Oh man. In hindsight I am viewing it as an adventure. It was fun - until it rained and left me soaked from head to toe. That, and a horrible choice of accommodation, which made everything really, really horrible. This adds to my tally why China gives me trust issues. (As a general rule, one should always be cautious in China, particularly with public transport.)
It started off a really nice day. We took a bus from the Huangshan bus terminal, and then another bus that takes you to the foot of the mountain. There you choose between two buses and your method of ascent, east or west. My aunty drew up this diagram for me to work out our path, because she knows how useless I am. And then we started the climb. Ah, it was hard!
There are cable carts up the mountain, but everything from food to linen is carried up by some very tough and very strong men. The weight load must be a minimum of twenty kilograms. And they still managed to overtake us. One day I will master my pathetic endurance.
There were many rest stops dotting the climb. Price increases were a way to mark how high you've reached.
Some of the steps were too steep for some people, so they started using all fours. (This will likely be me at Huashan if I end up going. It looks wicked.)
And then it started. Mist then fog then pouring rain. The little shelter we were able to find (stressing the little) did not do much to prevent being completely soaked. My shoes were so wet it was still a little damp when I got home two days later.
The skies cleared a while later, but there was no sunset. The part where we go to the hotel was the upsetting part. I'm still unhappy thinking back on it. My aunt's friend booked it for us, and I thought it was a four-share room at Shilin Hotel. When my aunt told me it might be dorms, I didn't think it would be a problem. It was a four star hotel, how bad could it possibly be? This was the biggest mistake of the trip. The dorms were disgusting, even more so because of how wet everyone was. Forget the four stars. For the dorms, I don't even know if it could be classified as half a star. The room was rundown, the bathroom was filthy and wet, and they crammed ten creaking bunkbeds in there with no ventilation. It was a question of no bugs or air, and people chose no bugs. I woke up at 2am pulling open the window to gasp for air. Forget showering, the bathroom was disgusting with no towels or slippers. After eight hours of climbing, I couldn't think of a worse scenario than be in. We used the foyer bathrooms, which were decent. Decent until the next morning because people are disgusting. My wet socks and shoes were still wet the next day because of the lack of ventilation in the room. I had brought a spare change of socks, but that was immediately nullified with the wet shoes.
We stayed overnight for the sunrise but there was no sunrise. If I knew the conditions of the accommodation, I would've taken the last cable cart down to Tangkou, where we could've gotten proper rooms for a fraction of the price we paid for the dorms. It was a miserable night and morning for me.
We took the cable cart down immediately in the morning. First thing we did in Hongcun was check in and shower.
And after Huangshan visit #2, I'm still after the sunrise and sunset shots.