THE REAL FLOATING MOUNTANS OF PANDORA
Zhangjiajie, Wulingyuan National Park, China
IT'S FANTASY FRIDAY - AS GOOD A TIME AS ANY TO DREAM!"
Avatar came out in 2009 and was the must-see movie of the year - in part due to stunning mountain vistas. Not just regular mountains though - these ones were floating - monolithic, craggy formations just suspended in mid-air with no earthly excuse for such behavior.
Avatar was set on the lush alien world of Pandora. And on alien worlds - as any top-notch Hollywood director knows - anything goes. Acclaimed Canadian director James Cameron bet on a major dose of imagination from movie-goers. And his bet paid off with those magical floating mountains raking in $2.8 billion at the box office!
After 2.5 hours of stunning vistas, I, like many movie-goers, would love to see those mountains. Not being an alien, I'll - quite happily - settle for the earthly equivalent - and James Cameron's visual inspiration - the Wulingyuan mountain area of South China.
Designated a World UNESCO Heritage site in 1992, Wulingyuan's 26,000 hectares feature over 3,0000 sandstone pillars and peaks. Most famous peak of all, and biggest tourist attraction in the region, is the formerly named Southern Sky Column. Now known as Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, it's a fitting tribute to a movie that turned an already stunning destination into a tourist and movie-lovers mecca.
I imagine my future trip-of-a-lifeitme. The sun is no more than a gold halo over distant peaks. Thick clouds blanket lush valleys. I channel a little of that creative genius JC is so famous for (and perhaps I squint just a little). And I see those mountains 'floating' - right here on earth! As day breaks, gold shafts reach far down to the valleys and clouds begin to rise in curling wisps of 'smoke'. Now those 'floating' mountains appear to rise skyward.
And in this moment I'm sure I don't need Pandora - so lucky our own amazing planet has such stunning vistas!
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