On the long road from Datong to Pingyao, you have two roads to take. Either the flat boring road, or the one that goes through Northern Chinas highest mountain range. City after city in China, you begin to get fed up with the stuffy, smoggy air and the drab, uninteresting, communist high rises. So we chose the mountain range!
On the windy road up the mountain, I had flashbacks to my drives through the wilderness of New Zealand. High Plateaus with snow capped peaks in the distance. Loads of sheep being herded through pastureland. Steep, curving switchbacks, taking you higher and higher above the endless rows of mountain peaks. Once we finally hit the pass, we get our first look down into the valley at Wu Tai, and it is stunning. The sun is beginning to drop beneath the horizon, livening up the sky with rainbows of color. Little stupas and temples can be seen towering out of the alpines. With every new switchback, we get another sweeping view of the quaint little town making it bigger and bigger. This little mountain escape will definitely give us that big breath of fresh air that we desperately need after being in these smoggy cities.
Wu Tai Shan is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in China. It is home to over 40 monasteries, some of which were built in the 1st century AD. Many monks travel from all over the world to visit this holy pilgrimage site. The town is filled with little hiking trails taking you to all of these temples and summiting the 5 major peaks. The tallest sits at 10,033 ft and is the highest mountain in the North of China. Because of its religious, historical, and geographical significance, it has been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.