Avatar and Hallelujah Mountain

We wake early in China Vegas and I open the curtains. We arrived in the dark last night. When I look out of the window I realise just how tacky this place is. No casinos but everything else – Chinese style mind you!  It’s so hot and humid. Breakfast was tough on the eyes so I had fruit.  Fanny Fan guided us through the food.  Then we were pushed onto the bus Chinese Style and for the tour Fanny starts talking. Now tour guides in China are not what we know in the west. They sing and talk more than I do!  They feel that they’re paid to do a job and have to tell you everything.  We have many languages on the small bus, famous TV chefs from Peru, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Dhabi, Japan, Germany and myself. The fun is good.  We are of the opinion that we are in some sort of social experiment!

James-in-China-Web

We drive to a point in the town to board a cable car. We are told its a “very special” cable car and told it’s the longest in the world. It’s 7KM and travels at a great speed.  Now the last time I was in a cable car was in Switzerland with my Mum and she screamed.  Today I whooped. It was so fast. I loved it.

At the top of the mountain we see a sea of points like buttes in the desert covered in trees, (see the pic attached). It’s beautiful. A heavenly scene.  It’s my second trip to China and once out of the cities this country is beautiful. But we in the West just don’t know about it.

As I looked at the view the tree above me rattled and a monkey fell out.  I screamed. Fanny Fan laughed. The monkey grabbed a bag from one of my fellow travellers. I kept well away.  Their human form in the wild was too much for my comfort.  Fanny then sang “we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun”. How unexpected. I assure you I don’t make this up!

It’s lunchtime in the local hotel. The reality of the different cuisines in this country is drastically different. It’s a whole set of different cooking techniques and flavours. One item at lunch looked like floating islands. On greater inspection what I thought was custard was yellow tofu with a tofu white purée on top and black Chinese 10,000 year old eggs.  I did not eat, swallow nor smile for the camera.  The good news is it did not move when prodded with my chopstick.

The Chinese don’t understand that we in the west like time on our own,  They will not give us a schedule so we never know what is happening.  If I think as a westerner then it is certain that I will not survive. If I forget all I know then the day is a lot happier. Next stop is a 7.5km walk in the forest. I wish I had different shoes on.

It was not a walk, it was a journey through the most beautiful place I have ever see.  It was where the movie Avatar was filmed, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. All day we have been escorted by a police car in front of the bus.

Dinner was superb. The cuisine I cannot explain, the flavours are excellent. I was so hungry and I was glad of the 23 glorious courses.  The Mayor of this County hosted the dinner and I was asked to speak.  I explained about my TV series in China and welcomed them to London 2012. My mother brought me up well.

Chinese Opera followed. I have been to some of these before in X’ian and they were high pitched ladies with drums every now and again. This performance tonight put the West End to shame.  We were in an amphitheatre in the mountains.  The same “Hallelujah Mountains” as Avatar. The mountains joined in a “V” shape in front of us. The production value was extremely high. The lights, the costumes, the dancing. I knew the story from watching even though it was in Chinese.

There are certain things I won’t try. The Chinese give us little info until we are there.  We have discovered that late tonight is a ceremony where small live snakes are killed in front of us, the blood drunk as a shot and the snake then pan fried.  I took the challenge!

What a day. Then I realised.  I was wearing odd socks!

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