When we were planning this trip, we had a few must see places on our list and then we figured we could just fill in extra days with suggestions we received along the way. We booked 5 nights at HY Little Yard very close to The Great Wall. Our goal was to see a restored (touristy with gondola up and toboggan down) section of the wall and hike a wild portion of the wall. We also figured on a rest day (jet lag is real and schoolwork must be done). That left us one extra day, so we asked for a reccomendation from the staff at HY Little Yard. Honglou Temple is how we decided to spend the 50th day of the trip.
We were getting out of the van in the parking lot and Caleb and Anna saw it at the same time — this structure on top of the mountain with stairs leading up to it. They were all excited to climb to the top. I was secretly hoping that it is somehow considered sacred ground, so we will not be allowed to go all the way up. I was wrong. Although the temple was less than halfway up the mountain, the stairs led to The Gateway to Heaven. We were rewarded with spectacular views along the way. My legs did eventually recover. I really need to climb more and more stairs to prepare myself for Nepal.
This pair of lions guards many entrances throughout China. One is male, one is female. Can you guess which is which? (Hint, look closely at the feet). Also, many of the entrances to these beautiful areas have huge doorstops on the bottom – the kids are standing on one. Their purpose was twofold – keep the sand from coming in during dust storms, and keep the demons out. These particular demons don’t have legs, so they couldn’t step over this type of entrance.
This is our first sighting of Buddha.
And now for the first of the many, many steep stairs.
The first resting spot. The view is awesome from every viewpoint — even this one close to the bottom.
I can never catch up to them. My excuse is that my legs are shorter than everyone else’s (not that I am older than everyone).
The fall colors are beginning to change.
The stair count now is at 1050. We have learned China’s hand gestures for numbers. They count 1 through 10 using one hand only. 1 through 5 is the same as ours, but numbers 6 through 10 each have a sign (similar to sign language). Anna is using the sign for 10.
We think we have spotted the destination through the trees.
Taking selfies is a great excuse to catch your breath between flights of stairs. The kids are miles ahead by now.
Only a few more steps…
A few more fall colors and mountains.
The pavilion is in the clouds! Two thousand, two hundred and thirty-five steps….. Writing it longhand still doesn’t do it justice.
Caleb was a gentleman and carried my backpack (in addition to his) back down the 2235 steps. 🙂