Footloose & Deluded: How the Millennial Obsession With Travelling is Ruining the World

Outdoors

Footloose & Deluded: How the Millennial Obsession With Travelling is Ruining the World

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

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terrifyingly long queue snakes ahead of me at the central cable car station in downtown Zhangjiajie, a town at the base of the imposing Tianmenshan Mountain in China’s Hunan province. It serves as the gateway to the Wulingyuan scenic area, a region that’s home to some astonishing otherworldly landscapes – towering quartz pillars, tropical jungles, and enormous karst caves. The 3,000-odd forest-covered sandstone summits look like phallic symbols, and were, by all accounts, the inspiration for the mythical Pandora in James Cameron’s 2009 3D blockbuster Avatar.

But if the spectacular scenery weren’t enough to provide drama to the thrill-seekers who come here, China has also turned the region into a Disney-esque campsite. The primordial peaks of Zhangjiajie compete for tourist footfall with elongated glass-bottom bridges that connect cavernous gorges, see-through elevators that whoosh past peaks at lightning speed, and transparent skywalks that creak beneath your feet.

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