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I got to the foot of Huashan at around one in the morning.

There was a little shop that was still open:

shop in Huayin

I bought a drink and asked the friendly lady there about the situation up on the trails, and she said it shouldn’t be a problem at all, so I was very optimistic when I got to the main gate:

gate to Huashan

Well, what do you know, the ticket office was still in business hours at one thirty in the morning, so I showed them my student ID and purchased the piece of paper that was able to make the gate-keeper wake up and grant me access to the mountain path:

ticket

I forgot to ask him if there had been others before – or if I was the only person on the trail tonight.

It would be nice, thought I, it would be nice to know whether or not you’re the only one with the brilliant (or retarded) idea of climbing the mountain at night.

I wasn’t the only one, but I would find that out later.

First, I had to start the way up these thousands of steps all by myself:

stairs to Huashan

The picture might look like it’s been taken at daytime, which is due to the full moon and a very long exposure time.

The same goes for this one:

moonlight

I wasn’t alone; a group of college kids, a mid-aged couple and some soldiers on holiday were also trying to take in the sunrise on the East Peak.

Well, you know what happens if a show-off like me tries to pass a group of trained young men (soldiers) on the way up a mountain path?

Right, they start a competition.

So when we got to the peak, sweating like race-horses and gasping for breath, it was 5:00 and we were way to early. So we had to stand around in the freezing wind, feeling foolish and cold for more than another hour, until something started to happen on the eastern horizon:

sunrise over Huashan

Well, it looked nice, but I think all of us wished that the sun would just hurry the hell up.

At 7:22, it finally did seem to hurry the hell up:

sun rising over Huashan

Beautiful…

And even more so, after another four minutes:

morning over Huashan

Below is a montage of about 190 individual photographs covering the whole process from 6:30 to 7:30 in the morning:

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I screwed up a bit while shooting this one (taking pictures with different exposure settings, etc.) but I will try to do a better job next time.

When the sun was fully up and my teeth were not chattering from the cold anymore, I walked around taking pictures of the other four peaks of Huashan:

love locks

It’s a really beautiful mountain, and there are lots and lots of love locks (love locks) everywhere.

The South Peak is the highest point of Huashan (2154m), and it offered a magnificent view of the mountain scenery in the morning light:

southern peak of Huashan

I was walking with my new friends the soldiers by the way, and we were trying to find the dangerous parts that everyone had been warning us about.

Well, here is one:

on Huashan

What a bummer.

And another one, called the sky ladder 天梯:

steep stairs

I mean, come on, people had been making this sound like a 90 degree drop to the death, when in reality it was just a steep stairway with a handrail to hold on to.

WTF, I thought.

In addition, 90 percent of the path were in top-condition and very well taken care of:

workers on Huashan

We enjoyed the luxury of a cable-car ride down to the bottom.

This was not only due to fatigue and laziness, but also because today was the fifteenth day of the Year of the Rat, and there was supposed to be a traditional dancing dragon 舞龙 show in downtown Huayin.

So I was in a bit of a hurry to get to the public park, but – no dancing dragons!

Instead, people standing around carousels:

fair in Huayin

People standing around swings:

play

People standing around the lottery:

lottery

People standing around other people telling jokes on stage:

stage

Looking at all this, I could only hear one thought in my mind: bed-bed-bed-bed-bed-bed.

There wasn’t going to be a dancing dragon, I could feel it, so I figured I might as well go to sleep.

Well, what do you know – there were people standing around my hotel as well:

street scene in Huayin

I ignored them and went in.

“Hello,” the receptionist smiled at me, “did you see the dancing dragon, I heard they have a dancing lion there too!”

“No, but the mountain was nice.” I answered.

Bed-bed-bed-bed-bed-bed, I thought.



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