We caught the first bus from Nan Chuan (南川) up the precarious switchbacks to Jinfo mountain north side cable car. We were the only tourists in the bus, the other four were locals returning home.
More tourists are not too far away: villas and apartments are in the process of being constructed alongside the river and the northern freeway exit/entry is also being constructed.
The cable car runs only once there are enough people to fill all three gondalas.
My suggestion: if you take public transport, buy a one way cable car ticket. There’s a cable car on the southern side, and you can then have a different bus ride back to town. Or if you have more time than we did, stay at the mountain top hotel and really take in what the area has to offer.
Once up top, we perused the map, and then walked over to the eagle view lookout:
Spectacular. We spent at least 30 minutes here just reveling in the view, the fact that we were above the smog and drinking tea out of a flask. There may have been cake.
Most tourists turn around at this point but we continued along the path minor marked path.
You take the high road and I’ll take the low:
I didn’t dare to scramble along the upper path, but the footprints indicate that plenty of others have.
The cliff part, 800m above the ground is an amazing feat of engineering:
Underneath this cliff path was the original one at ground level. How on earth did they construct this one so high up on the face of the cliff? This was built in 2012. At first I thought it was a bit weird, I think the concrete handrails fashioned in the guise of wooden branches are growing on me. It just works.
About a third of the way along, we came upon the Yangkou cave (羊口洞). At first we only walked about halfway through the long dark cave, with the path lit up using bollard lights. We turned back to keep going along the cliff path, but then we met some cable car mates who convinced us that it was worthwhile to keep going to the other side.
I spend some time trying to capture a long exposure low light photo of the Yangkou cave entrance:
We continued through the cave, right down to the lowest point, and then eye spied a cave heading off to the right. I had a head torch so we mosied down a little of Ling guan cave (灵官洞), which is named after the swallows that live in it. About 50m down the path, we bumped into a bunch of scientists taking water samples from the cave floor. Bizarre.
If I had more time in the mountains, another headtorch and more food. I would have kept exploring Ling Guan cave for the ‘because it’s there’ factor. We returned to the Yangkou cave, and climbed up a steep set of steps out of the gorge.
Now we found ourselves in the Shilin forest (Shilin 石林, meaning stone forest), with lots of fantastic arrangements of bamboo, moss, trees reaching for the sky, rooted through granite boulders.
There were lots of artistic names and descriptions like “dragon foot on rock” (yes, I could kind of see it), or “white horse” (nope). From this spot you could head to the road and catch a minibus ride to either end of this park at the top of the plateau for the princely some of 10RMB per head.
However, we kept walking through the stone forest and the azalea garden, and returned to the cliff path. At one point I shared some of my teethcracking nut toffee with a path sweeper, who urged us to hurry up and catch the cable car when we asked about the last bus. It was interesting to see how the light had changed during the day.
We hurried past the main Yan Kou cave entrance, then a bit further on past the caved in entrance of the Ling guan cave. We did see the swallows after which it was named. More cliff path, and then a viewing platform, so that you could see the
The point does indeed look like a tortoise, bowing in front of the sun. We had walked all that way, alongside the ‘body’ of the tortoise.
The main road is about 10 minutes away, past the ‘ski’ lodge and the (kids sized) skiing/grass skiing area.
We managed to flag a bus down, and caught it to the cable car where we had started our journey this morning. I was a little bit concerned because I didn’t see a bus waiting. After riding the gondola down, we asked the stallholder when the last bus would be leaving. The response in the mountain dialect was that “the buses had finished”.
We checked with the gondola operators and “they called someone”.
The last bus leaves from the northern cableway at 4pm. Don’t forget that.
Our saviour arrived about 20 minutes later. After some negotiation, we got a ride down to Nanchaun for 100RMB. Compared to a 20RMB bus ride, it was a little a bit expensive, but we got back to our hotel room.
Golden Buddha Mountain (Jinfo Shan 金佛山)
Nanchuan, Chongqing, China (南川, 重庆).
75 RMB entry fee, 70 return cable car, 25 RMB public bus ride one way, 100 RMB private car back.
270RMB total for the day’s excursion. (60AUD, 44USD at the Mar 2015 exchange rate).