Hell is in Beautiful China
Posted by Heliocentrism on May 12, 2009
May 10, 2008
On this trip I visited Chongqing for the second time. The last time I didn’t get a chance to see the Ghost City in Fengdu, so I had to go back. Lucky for me, Chongqing is almost on the way from Beijing to Hanoi.
A Really Great Place to Stay
I took a business card from the hostel in Beijing for another hostel in Chongqing. It had the directions on the back, but I still had a little trouble finding the place. It was great and the people there were very nice. Since I was the only female guess at the time, I got a room all to myself for about 5 USD a night!
On the train I managed to rip my backpack. When I asked at the front desk about a place where I could get it repaired they told me to leave the bag at the hostel and they would take care of it. When I got back from my day trip the hole was gone. The lady at the desk had fixed it herself and she didn’t charge me anything.
The next day I went to see Taoist Hell. The bus ride to Fengdu is supposed to take 4 hours. Since this is China, you have to add in the extra time needed to wait for extra passengers to show up and for construction delays. It actually took about 5 hours to get there and 6 to return.
There was a rest stop along the way, but I didn’t know that. I thought that I had reached Fengdu. That is when I met the lady that saved my day. She showed me where the bathroom was then urged me to get back on the bus. She spoke very little English and I had forgotten my phrase book back in the hostel in Chongqing.
When we got back on the bus she sat beside me. She asked me where I was from, where I was going, and all the other standard questions. When she found out that I was going to the ghost city, she polled everyone on the bus until she found someone who lived near there to make sure I got to hell safely.
It was a bit difficult communicating where I was going. I drew several pictures of ghosts which didn’t communicate “City of the dead” very well. Either Chinese ghosts don’t look like western ghosts or I just have no artistic talent whatsoever.
The Ghost City is very beautiful and there were only a few people visiting when I went. The gates of hell are up a mountain with a wonderful view of the Yangtze. I walked all the way up and took the ski lift down. I recommend doing the opposite.
I also recommend reading all the wonderful, not-so-good-English signs along the way. You will have to read some a couple of times before you understand what they are trying to say. Others you will never understand.
There were many statues and pictures of demons torturing souls. The painted demons were very beautiful. The tortured souls were very expressive. The view of the river was exquisite. It all made hell such a wonderful place.
Let’s face it, it’s just the two of us.
When I was done I found only one taxi driver waiting at the entrance. He was just walking around in circles like he really wanted something to do. He seemed so happy to see me and asked me if I wanted to go to the dock.
This is a common cruise stop, so if you do not look Chinese the taxi drivers will assume that you are from a cruise and will take you to the dock unless you tell him otherwise.
I had the girl who brought me to hell write in Chinese on a piece of paper, “I would like to go to the Fengdu bus station and buy tickets to Chongqing.” I handed him the paper and got into his van. I talked him down from his original price, but I think we both knew that I would end up riding in his taxi. I had no other taxis to choose from and he had no other passengers to carry.
How to get there:
- You can enter by plane, train, boat, or bus
- Make sure to get a visa before going to China.
- Visas to China are expensive for people of some nationalities.
- Getting a Chinese visa is not a quick process. Apply as soon as you can.
There is a long list of websites that cannot be accessed while in China. Facebook and parts of Wikipedia are just two of them. As with everything, there are ways around it. There are sites that will let you get to Facebook and other sites for free for about 15 minutes, then you will have to pay.
My advice is to find a few of them and use them for free. Then use them again on a different computer. If you are in China for a long time, then you might want to invest in paying for the service. Ask friends living in China for the best deals.
- A Bite of China (Playlist)
- Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations – Harbin, China
- China: A Century of Revolution (Playlist)
- China Uncensored (Playlist)
- Crash Course:
- Engineering an Empire: China
- The Bonesetter’s Daughter
- Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
- Dreams of Joy (Part 2 of Shanghai Girls)
- Empress Dowager Cixi
- The Joy Luck Club
- The Kitchen God’s Wife
- Lost on Planet China
- Mao’s Last Dancer
- Mao: The Unknown Story*
- The Private Life of Chairman Mao
- Sex Lives of the Great Dictators
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
- The Red Chamber
- Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China*
*These books by Jung Chang are banned in China. But I highly recommend reading Mao: The Unknown Story before going to Beijing.
- If you want an internet cafe look for this (网吧) on a sign.
Fengdu (丰都县) &
the Ghost City (丰都鬼城)
- 29°53’03.5″N 107°43’23.5″E
From Chongqing go to the Hongqing Ying Bin Bus Station (重庆港迎宾汽车站) near Chaotianmen Gate (朝天门).
Buy a ticket on a bus to Fengdu. One ticket one-way costs 66 Yuan. When you get to Fengdu you have to a take a minivan/taxi to the Ghost city. The cost of the taxi ride will depend on your negotiation skills.
- The Ghost city itself will cost 80 Yuan.
- If you don’t want to walk up or down the mountain it will cost 15 Yuan extra each way to use the ski lift.
- I recommend using the ski lift up and walking down. You will definitely want to see the crazy stuff on the walk to/ from hell’s gate.
- There are 2 sections of the Ghost City. The more interesting part is up the hill.
- If you are visiting during the non-peak season you should make sure your taxi driver will come back to get you.