It was only after sometime we got down from the bus that I found that my camera case with the spare battery in it was missing! I could do without the case, but not without the spare battery. The one in my camera was already half used and I was counting on the spare battery. Sheeeesh! On an act of impulse, I wanted to immediately pursue the bus. But then the gate-keepers assured me saying that the bus would return soon. Even if the bus did come back, my major fear was that the passengers from the other end would find and keep the case.
I had no choice but to wait. Well...I never liked waiting. In that case, I could definitely say my patience was tried to the extreme limit! Finally, the bus came back and the gatekeepers flagged it down and quickly explained the situation to the driver. I rushed in...and to my greatest relief...my camera case was still lying on the floor, which I must have dropped in my frenzy when taking pictures of the villages on our way. What a close call! Phew!
It was a fairly hot day and the tour started with the not so pleasant incident. To make things worse, after two hours trekking up and down mountains and narrow path, we got suspicious as to why we were the only people going in that direction. After enquiring with the very few people coming from the opposite direction we found out that we had entered from the back gate! We weren’t prepared for such a long walk. We were further told that we were still very far away from our destination! Grrrrrrrrr...My legs were aching and I was sweating profusely by then. But there was no stopping...even if we turned back the way we came...no...no...two hours to retrace our steps...no way! What a dilemma we were in!
The plus point of our exhausting trekking was that we got to see beautiful sceneries at various intervals. After about two more hours of further trekking, we finally reached Zhijin Cave. That too accidentally...!!
Lemme explain...There was this huge cave on the way with steps going down to the bottom. I was too tired to even attempt and go down. I sat down at the entrance waiting for my friend who was still energetic enough to investigate it. After a while, she called out to me telling me how beautiful it was and asked me to join her. I thought, ’I’m never coming back here, so why don’t I just ignore my tiredness for today and be adventurous’. My joining her turned out to be very favorable for both of us. As we wandered further into the cave, both fascinated by the walkway kept floating on top of the river, we ended up in this enormous dark cave illuminated with beautiful colored lights.
There were boats that would take visitors around the different caves through narrow passageways. We boarded one and felt as if floating in a magical place. The caves are spacious and room after room, often reaching from floor to the ceiling, was stalactites and stalagmites. The karst precipitation of calcium deposits, formed into spectacular spirals and shapes, are definitely a rare and fantastic sight.
As we went from cave to cave I found that all the different caves hold unique beauty. One of the tourists, probably fascinated by the cave began singing in his rather loud baritone voice which echoed throughout the caves. At the end of his song, he received warm applause from the rest of the tourists from several other boats.
As we rowed out of the cave on the other end, we were suddenly hit by the bright sunlight and heat, a stark contrast to the cool and dark but beautiful sight just a minute ago. We then headed back to Anshun tired and yet contented at having seen one of the most spectacular caves I've ever come across.