Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A View From The Hill

After a few days in Taiyuan, we decided to head out of the city and spend the morning hiking up a nearby mountain. Zhao Laoshi and Yingping were kind enough to arrange a driver (Wu Shifu) to take us out into the countryside and then back into town. With all of this support in place, all we had to do was pa shang pa xia (climp up and climb down).

On the way, there were a number of what we by now consider "ordinary" features of any Chinese hike...

A stairway paving the way to the top. (What is it like to hike on dirt and rock?)

A pagoda near the top...With local villagers selling water, snacks, and trinkets. (A bag of dried apples set us back all of one kuai.)

A Buddhist temple even further up toward the summit. (We decided to take a pass on this one. Our allotted time was running low anyways.)

Along the way, we looked down into the valley where Taiyuan in located. Although it was a sunny day in the city itself, from our distant perspective, all we could see were tall buildings enshrouded in smog, nuclear power plants at the edge of town, and other industrial activities that were kicking up dirt and dust.

Finally, there were the ants. Ants? Desi, Julie, and Z were fascinated by watching ant after ant jump off the edge of one step down to the next one below. These "suicide" ants would lay there for a second, perhaps momentarily stunned, and then get up and scurry off to the next "cliff." Needless to say, the four of us (even Z!) decided not to try out any imitation on this one, and instead kept to our own two feet, all the way down the way more than one thousand stairs back to our waiting black car.



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