Monday, August 02, 2010

The Most Beautiful Sight I Ever Happily Missed The Chance To See

One of the highlights of a trip to Changbaishan has to be Tianchi, the large crater lake at the peak of the mountain. Having seen picture after picture of Tianchi at every trinket stand, I was looking forward to a peek.

So the other morning when we awoke to the sound of water...unfortunately not the adjacent stream but rather sheets of rain...I thought we might not get the chance.

Our first decision of the day was whether to head out at all. Knowing the preparedness of the Chinese, though, we were convinced that they would have cheap rain ponchos for sale in the lobby. The only surprise was that the fifteen kuai gear actually had both a poncho and pants!

Armed with provisions and outer wear, we left the hotel and boarded a bus, then an SUV, for what would become quite an adventure.

The beauty of this site this day, though, was not the view (which was nonexistent). Rather, it was the fun that the weather bought. Perhaps likened to conditions that might occur atop Mount Washington (reported to be one of the most wild weather places in the world), winds gusted, rain whipped, and even some hail made an appearance. Sounds miserable, no?

Actually, not at all. All the craziness actually led to a most acute experience, while we and hundreds of our Chinese and Korean pengyoumen laughed and screamed as we climbed to the top.

At one point, as the clouds seem to rise from the crater, I asked Steve and the kids to stick out their tongues because I was convinced that the moisture tasted salty. I wasn't sure why that would be the case, but it did to me, so I needed back up. As Julie stuck her tongue out, she started cracking up because the wind was so strong that a small rock flew into her mouth. Then Z shouted, "Ouch!", as another rock was blown onto his face (I told him that he was allowed to keep any stones lodged in his body). Then Steve let out a yelp as a rock flew in his eye. "Are you OK?" I asked. "Yep." So we continued to be caught up in the moment and yelled things like, Jiu jiu wo! ("Save me!") And we pretended we were going to be lifted off the ground like kites...Julie almost was!

Now we all know what those weathermen who report from hurricane sites feel like. It must be pure adrenalin.




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