Tuesday, September 18, 2007

HUA SHAN: I spent my birthday surrounded by stunning natural beauty ... negated by Chinese tourists.

Hua Shan: one of the 5 sacred mountains in China. It has 5 peaks which form the shape of the flower (which is "Hua" in Chinese).

Back in my lab in New York, a Chinese post-doc told me that Hua Shan was a famous mtn and showed me some amazing pictures. The caveat though was that two university boys died there last year, and others too - it's a bit dangerous. So, the other Chinese post-doc told me maybe I shouldn't go. Or I can go, but "Just don't make any dangerous movements."

Of course I had to go. And better yet, I thought, why not spend my birthday doing a great hike surrounded by spectacular mountains? So, I treated myself to a tour, partly because I didn't want to deal with the hassles of public transportation on my b-day, but more importantly so that if I fell off the cliff, at least my body would be accounted for.

Assumption 1: Chinese tour would be easy. Wrong. It turns out that the tour guide spoke no English. So, after 4 dubious stops (bathroom, to buy hats/shoes, to hear about roots, to eat lunch) and two bus transfers we make it to the base of the mtn. 5 hrs after being picked up. I take pics of the bus and ppl on my tour in case I get lost. The group starts to leave. I have no idea where and when to meet up with them again. After trying to talk to the guide for 10 min, I understand that at 5:30 the bus leaves. OK. But I sensed that was not all. So I held onto a paper with only Chinese on it for dear life, knowing that it probably had the directions and headed off to conquer this mountain, with my map which was only in Chinese of course.
Here I am on my real birthday! Surrounded by stunning nature ... and tons of loud Chinese tourists!

Assumption #2: Beautiful nature = peace and quiet. Wrong again. Not in China. I was on this mountain constantly surrounded by lots of Chinese tourists - and let me tell you - they go in big groups and talk really loud! I have to be honest - I kinda wanted to give some a little nudge ... hmm... now how did those previous deaths occur?
Couples buy locks to chain their love together. This mountain is famous for its Taoist temples.It was endless steps and holding onto chains.Cute asian sayings always amuse me. I'm not sure how much they care for the sky and woods though. And this they can put in English, but of course the map was only in Chinese!But I still managed to make it to the top of the west peak above. I took a few wrong turns, but that lead me to find a really nice secluded spot where I could escape the constant loud chatter of the Chinese .Dragon back ridge. Hua shan is famous for it's narrow ledges. If you look closely above, you can see a whole stream of ppl climbing up and down the ridge. Lots of stairs! I gotta give props to the old ladies in skirts and sandals with handbags who made it to the top.

This was by far my most interesting birthday! Beautiful scenery and the nature that I love, without any of the peace and quiet that normally comes with it. That's China for you! The important thing is that I did not fall off a cliff and I made it back onto my bus.

1 comment:

caroline said...

Wow, the scenery is gorgeous here. I love it! Happy belated birthday!

The love locks are interesting. I've never heard that before.