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Where we went and what we did

By teamkrejados (blog.chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-07-18 17:24

Where we went and what we did

The author and her friends. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Now that I've gotten nearly all of the horror out of my system about Dallas and Nice, I shall resume my trip with Gary and Mask where I left off: the giant crater. It was the most exciting part of the trip. Well, as far as sights we saw go, anyway.

Nature-made, with man's involvement restricted to carving the mother of all staircases into it, this cavity drills nearly 2km into the ground. At the bottom lies a culmination of several waterfalls, spectacular when viewed from the depth. The river, a product of the four waterfalls, channels through a cave opening to form a natural pool. Once at the bottom, the hardy explorer experiences not only the drop in temperature but the damp from all of that cascading water.

We started out a little after 1PM, primed for adventure. Taunted by aromatic smells of deep fried potato cakes and roasted corn from the vendor stands Gary, Mask and I clomped down the gentle slope to the rim. Once there I asked if we could leave our bags at the security checkpoint. Whereas the guys had mildly loaded backpacks, I was carrying my side-slung bag, and it was getting a cumbersome. Especially because Gary thought it would be a good idea to buy some fruit along the way, and we were each carrying our share.

Permission granted to leave our bags at the check station, we started down the first of the stairs. I drew a lot of looks because I was the only foreigner there. Luckily, no one disrupted my downward momentum to ask for a picture, although some did snap a photo of themselves with me in the frame. Gary and Mask, not used to that phenomenon, commented on it. I have had plenty of time to get used to it so it didn’t bother me.

Climbing down presented no problem. There were stairs, lots of them! but they were mild and interspersed with a lot of downward sloping, flagstoned lengths. "Not too bad!" I thought to myself as we paused for a picture by a cavern. The guys expressed their concern for me. None needed, Guys! I can do this all day long.

And I did. We did. It took nearly two hours to make it all the way to the bottom. At the midway point there is a small refreshment stand, and many chose to end their journey there. They take a tea or maybe have a bowl of noodles and then resurface with their knees barely worked out. They enjoy the fools walking past to further depths. Some such fools rent bamboo canes to aid their descent.

We neither stopped nor rented. Blithely pounding pavement, we kept going. Beyond the midway point the hand railing changed from simulated gnarled wood woven together but actually made of concrete to something that resembled an intentional handrail, made of concrete and painted in a blond wood pattern. We weren't using the hand rail anyway, but I did find the difference between the handrails pre-and post snack stand remarkable. It was almost as though the grips were saying "OK now. You're getting into some deep stuff here. Do you want to reconsider?"

Oh, no. not at all. The guys skipped along and I marveled at my joints not even creaking as I prevailed, step after step. I wasn't even breathing hard! This was great! 

On the way up is a different story, but we’re not there yet.

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