Sheer forgetfulness on my part when I was enjoying myself in Beijing last week meant there was no Sunday Post, sorry! However, this week I have stayed alive by the skin of my teeth/safety harness to bring you the usual weekly rambling update.
Yesterday on a day trip to Huashan Mountain near Xian, I took a cable car to the Western Peak and hunted out the “Plank Road in the Sky”. Essentially it is a walk along a rather tired path of 2×4 wooden planks on the sheer cliff face of a mountain! My mate Ben did this a couple of years ago and ever since seeing his pics and getting a nervy rumbling in my stomach, I have wanted to do it. So after shitting myself for the past week or so as it drew closer, I finally found myself in the queue for the walk, thousands of feet up and just a thin iron rail between me and a long fall to Hades below…
The queue moved slowly as the walk consists of going one way along the planks to a viewing platform and a Buddha shrine, then back the same way. So there are frequent traffic jams of people along the way. Despite the wait, I was still on the calm side as I don’t have a massive fear of heights, although there was a creeping tingling sensation in my stomach and I kept as far from the edge of the cliff that I could!
Finally, as enough people made it back alive, it was my turn to get harnessed up. I did some checks of the slightly worn equipment and although I didn’t know what I was looking for when it came to the testing, a few tugs somehow convinced me it should hold my weight should I take a tumble. I didn’t really want to probe any deeper into the safety of it all anyway, as mental preparation for these types of activities in Asia often means following the dogma that ignorance is bliss, and so I just got on with it!
I made my way slowly down the ladder. Thankfully, heavily focusing on where I was putting my feet meant I wasn’t thinking about the sheer drop into the abyss below. I finally made it to the plank and, along with petrified Chinese people on either side, we started our plank walk in the sky. The girl behind me was a trooper and kept going, although the guy in front wimped out and had to turn back half way! My legs were a little bit shaky, especially in places where the wood felt loose underneath, but I was mostly loving the view and even ventured a look down a few times.
Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, as I just wanted to concentrate on staying alive! Haha. But I did pay a few quid for a cheesy tourist photo to prove I did it (I’m in lots of Chinese people’s photos too, they all thought a rickety plank in the sky was a great place to ask me to pose with them!)…
Afterwards I was on a huge adrenaline rush and ran off to enjoy the scenery that I had bypassed on my mission to get to the plank walk, but it was all clouded over by then 🙁 Ah well, such is life and I conquered the Mountain anyway!