The time we actually travelled somewhere in China (Jianmenguan Pass)

Remember all the times I wrote we never managed to go anywhere outside of Xi’an during all of our holidays there? I must admit that is not entirely true as we have visited many places around the city such as Mount Hua, the Shaanxi wild animal conversation research center and the Zoological Park. These places are not that far away from Xi’an however once we managed it even into another Province: Sichuan! I had nearly forgotten about it but untill I stumbled upon the pictures. This particular trip was at the Jianmenguan Pass which has much history behind it (like nearly every other place in China…).

Jianmenguan Pass with the fortress

We got to that mountain area by bus which we took from Xi’an. I don’t remember anymore how long the trip was exactly but I guess it was round 6 hours.  It was a small bus filled with many other people from our tourgroup, nearly all of them were in their 60s to 70s. As many of you know some Chinese can be rather noisy when traveling and this meant no sleep at all during the entire trip. Thankfully the bus had a small TV and the bus driver was so nice to play some Stephen Chow movies which helped to forget about all the noisy non-stop chatter and food throwing around.  Sadly we didn’t had the best weather during that time but at least it wasn’t raining when we reached Jianmenguan Pass. There we had the option to go straight to the fortification by walking for 30min or take a cable car half way up the mountain and walk from there 45min to the fortification and the little town behind it.  Of course there was also an option to get to the mountain top  where now also a viewing platform made out of tempered glass is crowning the top but that would have costs an additional 30 Dollars per person and there was simply no time in the schedule for it (tour groups rarely leave space for going around on your own).


Nearly the entire tour group decided for the option to go half way up the mountain and then walk to the fortification with only few people deciding on the shorter way. To our surprise there was a little extra for the more adventurous people after the cable car ride, the Birdsway! Me and my wife took it of course as we had no desire to walk on a normal street around and I quickly regretted that decision. First of all this path went up some stairs, bazillion of stairs to be precise. But that wasn’t the bad thing yet, not even when the stairs started to go straight up the mountain side with only a chain to hold onto. No…it wasn’t the worst part though it was very exhausting. The worst part for a person like me with Acrophobia (fear of heights) was when the small path leading up the mountain became suddenly 30-40cm wide with only a chain protecting against falling down the cliff side! As I am so afraid of heights I can’t really say how high this cliff side was so it could be anything between 30-100m. Even though the view was stunning I was terrified up there and it wasn’t helping at all to see other Chinese tourists leaning over the chains to take some crazy selfies.  I was just so relived when the path ended and the normal way around the mountain started again. Mind you, it was still exhausting as there were still hundreds of stairs going up and down but no more cliff side craziness.

My nightmare (of course I don’t mean my wife!)

The rest of the hike was going through a beautiful landscape full of old cypress trees and from time to time some small bamboo groves. Needless to say the wonderful landscape and peace was always interrupted by some food stalls standing in the middle of nowhere clustered with dozens of tourists enjoying their 10th cup noodle (must be some kind of challenge to stop at every food stall and eat noodles!). Funny enough people always assumed there that I am from Xinjiang, don’t ask me why. In the end we reached the famous fortress at the Shu Road which enabled small forces to hold against huge armies due to its strategic position. Afterwards we still had to walk for a few minutes until we reached a little village located there and have our lunch with the rest of the tour group. What I still remember about the food is that the tour guide “prepared” us for 15 minutes during our trip to the mountain that every dish will have tofu and is super delicious, repeating tofu and delicious about 100 times. But yes, it was indeed delicious!

Do you have a fear of heights?

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32 thoughts on “The time we actually travelled somewhere in China (Jianmenguan Pass)”

  1. Stephen Chow movies are nice! As are those beautiful pictures. Sorry to hear about acrophobia; I would be nervous to walk along those ledges myself. Hope you get to travel more in China in the future 🙂

    1. I am really surprised how I could forget about that trip, perhaps the experience standing at that ledge was so terrible that my brain deleted all memory 🙂
      We hope to go to China next spring but only if my health is by then again at some normal levels. Besides that we will try to get my parents to China as well…

  2. I have a fear of heights. Anything above five stories I start to get shaky feet and can’t bear the idea of looking down. It sounded like you couldn’t wait for the climb up the mountain to be over. But, lovely view from the top 🙂 It really is hard to look anywhere when you are up so high, because there is only so much things to look at – your feet (which means you are sort of looking down), and the view (which would remind you how high up you are).

    1. While walking there I tried to look in a way that I only saw the mountain wall and the path. Every time I had to look up I started to feel shaky and I got cold sweat…but in the end I survived 🙂

  3. Nice! I’ve never been to Sichuan. This place is pretty famous, I had heard it somewhere before. If you are scared of heights, be sure to avoid cable cars in China… sometimes they are very old, your legs are just hanging there and it is kind of scary!

  4. Fear of heights is an experience itself but so is being cooped up in a confined space with people who talked non-stop or talked for the sake of talking. However, if the conversation is interesting/meaningful/intelligent, so much the better.

    You’re a patient man, Timo.

  5. Love this post…OMG about the tiny pathway…I cannot believe how brave you are (I am very scared of heights too)..and as for the steps I laughed reading about them…EVERYWHERE in China has steps – I must have climbed over a million in my three years in China..even to a restaurant there are stairs/steps…really enjoyed reading about your adventure and your photos are lovely.

    1. I really do wonder about all those stairs and steps pretty much everywhere! Even when the ground is nearly flat they manage to get some steps there..
      I don’t even know how I was able to take those pictures back then

  6. Good for you, you conquered your fear of heights! I mean, you did it, right? You even took pictures, so you did alright man.

    Uh, I don’t think I have a fear of heights because I’ve climbed up some crazy mountains, but I certainly am not fearless. Therefore, I conclude, I must have a healthy desire for living 😛

    1. For me the climbing up is not the bad part, it is always those darn cliffs when right next to the path going down sometimes several hundred meters 😦
      Sadly I didn’t conquer my fear back then, just somehow survived the day

  7. Um, I also have a fear of heights….I didn’t learn of that until I was in Greece. Lovely fortress though, beautiful greenery (which becomes rarer in China).

  8. I think I also have fear of heights.. but I am not sure hehe. But you did it anyway! 🙂
    The scenery looks beautiful, I remember Sichuan from a massive earthquake some years back I think..

  9. OMG that cliffside sounds terrifying. What is it about Asia, and the safety standards. It’s totally the same here in Korea. Exposed cliffsides and locals hanging all over them. It’s like they have a death wish. And I’m definitely with you on the fear of heights. Parasailing in the Philippines was not enjoyable for me, like it was for hubby. More like a scary ordeal.

    1. Safety standards seem to have a fairly low priority :p
      There are so many cool places I would love to go to such as this glass bridge in China but I don’t think I would ever be able to take a single step on it…

  10. Wonderful views thanks so much for sharing in the safety here on level ground! Yes I do have a fear of heights but going skiing kind of cured me of that to a certain degree…. though not entirely ….

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