Well what a day today! We arrived in Tai-ai yesteday afternoon after about an hour bus ride from Qufu. There wasn't too much going on for the birthday but there were lots of people in town and a big performance that night. So we decided to move on.
On the bus ride we passed through lots of farm land, corn land. Obviously it was harvest time as there were many many piles of husks and also they put the husked corn on the rooves to dry out ( i think) and then make into grain. It was cool passing all these farm houses and building with bright yellow rooves of corn...quite cool.
The bus driver was crazy. Passing onto on coming traffic, weaving in and out of the lanes but it doesn't feel dangerous. They are all very patient drivers with eachother. It seems crazy to me but I hear India is even more insane. We'll see.
Tai-an is up against some really pretty mountains. They remind me of the mountains in New Mexico...orangish with dark greenery. We meandered around until we found the cheapest place in the guidebook. They were all out of the cheapest rooms so we got two doubles with our very own squats! There are showers above the squats.hmmmmm.
We visted a bakery in the guidebook ( which we are finding to be sort of annoying) and got what looked like a pizza but when we began to ate, it had red jam on it. Like they looked at a picture of a pizza and just did what it looked like. Oh red, how bout some jam? Oh white, how bout some mayonaisse?
Utterly unsatisfiied ( but very used to the feeling) we visited the Dai Temple which is thousands of years old and was visited by many of the past emperors. It was really cool with lots of little temples and we took some fantastic photos of ourselves. Have to make your own fun sometimes. But it felt old and we liked that. An old man approached us with an english letter that said that he was trying to collect currency from every country in the world and that it was "his hope and his joy to fulfill this" and we looked through his collection and he didn't have NZ $ but either did we. Oh man, he was so kind and cute. Oh well. Know for next time.
Later we went out to find dinner...which can be daunting. We found this alley that looked like it was being dug up and there was a man and woman with frying pans and veggies and you pick from what they had and they made the best fried rice for 5 yuan ( NZ 1$ and US 70 cents)....whoa! It was sooo yummy and we ate up in prep for our next days climb! They were so cool. It has not been often that we have found yummy food.
After another evening of uncomfortable sleep ( i think we are suffereing from sleep deprivation of sorts) we got up early to walk up the most sacred mountain in China called Tai-shan. We walked to the base and just as we got there a girl began to speak to us and asked "if you don't mind I would like to walk with you and excite my english." Well I don't know any better people to excite your english with. Her English name was Dolly. She studies at a university here in Tai-an. Then a few minutes later 3 other boys came up behind us and asked if they could join in. English lessons on the go. So for the next 5 hours of walking, Dolly, Lincoln, You, and Morning were our constant companions. They were very sweet and told us about what we saw and took many photos with us. We chatted about this and that but the 6,800 did get quite steep and tiring. It was really beautiful. Like the great wall of china but up a mountain into the mist...very chinese looking scene with those ancient mossy looking trees lining the edges. It was quite the walk and was very cold at the top 1,545 meters up! It started to rain at the top but luckily we had jackets and hats...sadly the rain kept us from taking many pictures.
We started our descent and quickly realized how tired our legs were and that we weren't going to make it the whole way down so halfway down we got a bus back into town. We exchanged emails with our new buddies and they gave us big hugs and handshakes and waved us off onto our bus.
China is cool but we are finding that it's the people here who are really adding to the experience. I guess that is pretty much true anywhere though.
Great day. I am sure I have missed out on many things but I am very tired from the day. I think we will go back to the fried rice man and hopefully get a really good nights sleep for tomorrow's train ride. We leave for Beijing at 1PM and get in at 9PM. We are just going to stay for one night, go out of the city for a couple days and be back on Wednesday and then meet up with our friend Jason on Thursday.
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