A fine week off, Monday

Trip Start Jul 28, 2009
Trip End Jul 27, 2010

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Flag of China  , Guangdong Sheng,
Friday, November 13, 2009

This week i have had 4 days out of 5 off. But i had to work Wednesday one of my busiest days, however i am not complaining!
Monday was a lazy start. Watching movies and downloading movies which IMDB recommended as the best films ever, like ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’ and such. Realising that i had to make the most of my time off, i forced myself to leave the comfort of my apartment.
The best and most constructive thing i could think about doing was jumping on my bike and going exploring. There was a couple of places in Sanxiang that i had been curious about exploring since i had been here. I thought at that point it was a perfect opportunity to see what was around the corners of these streets.
The odd left turn here and a right there at a couple of places to begin with satisfied my curiousity from some of the more local areas around where i live. I then found a fairly typical Chinese market, it was quite nice but nothing really special to be fair. Ive been there before, however i didn't really realise quite how big the market was. Originally i thought it stretched down this long street, but i discovered that it sprawled into every side street along the road. 
I then cycled further a field. Instead of taking my usual left turn to go to my local supermarket, i decided to take a right. Which led to no where but a long road which i predict reconnects with the highway that runs outside the school.
I cycled back to the place i had taken the turn and went another direction. I was shocked to find that i was cycling through a very new district of town. This shocked me because for most of Sanxiang, it is dirty and quite old. Infact it was so new that i found an american style mall. This place had everything; out of town parking, food, electronics, an arcade and even a cinema. I thought to myself ‘i know where im running to if there is a mutant zombie outbreak’.
Feeling satisfied that i had found a cinema that showed English films, i knew there was more to see in Sanxiang. My next stop was the square in the middle of Sanxiang. I call this place mini Tianammen square as a nick name. I wanted to take a few snaps of the place because i don’t think we really have anything like it in England. I took some nice sun set pictures of my bike and cajgbt some nice shadows. After watching a local man practice some Tai Chi i continued exploring.
Mini Tianammen is not a new place for me however, i have known about its where abouts almost from the start of my stay here in my town, this is because it is along the way to the bar street! The day before, on Sunday evening i went there with Jess. It was wonderful because there was so many local people there having a great communal time. A large TV screen was there showing a Hong Kong movie which i was told that it is the equivalent of our Jim Carrey style. It didn't look very funny. There are also large groups of people dancing, young and old. Some of them get really into it, especially some of the younger men, i guess it must be a way of attracting the ladies. I wondered to myself why we don’t have these large open areas where people can go at night and have a good time, but then in reality it would probably be dominated by troublesome youths drinking, or maybe its just to wet in England for anyone to go out?!
The supermarket that i mentioned earlier is situated on a large crossroad which is on the centre of town. I had been 3 out of 4 roads and had always wondered what was down the other direction. As i began cycling down the road it seemed pretty average, a school on my left and pretty average corner shops selling the same brands that seem to be all over China. I was making my way outside of town. The only thing that bought me forward was the beautiful mountains that i could see just before me. I was desperate to find a way up the mountains that surround our town.
The sun was going down and i thought that it was going to be unlikely to get up on the mountains that day. The road i was on was almost in the countryside. I could see peasants farming their lands and several fires was going on in the fields to do with agriculture. There was a group of men with a fishing line all huddled around this small river going underneath the road, i tried to work out what was going on but i was not sure what they were doing and i did not want to stop and look as i was so far outside of town. You never know! Anyways, i was heading back and i saw a newly paved road leading up the mountains. I assumed it was some kind of driveway to a rich estate, but i spotted a public looking sign featuring a map of some kind of track and the large sculpture of cyclists also gave away a public feel to the place.
Turns out it was a good decision to turn up this road because it is the most special place i have visited in Sanxaing. There was a long a lazy road running along the foot of the mountain, there was many locals there jogging and exercising. I continued cycling around this road until i bumped into another foreigner with his girlfriend, i asked if it was Ok to be cycling along the road and he confirmed my belief that it was public. He also recommended going up a path that i missed earlier that would take you up to the top of the mountain. I took his advice, cycled back and began ascending to the top of the mountain. It was an epic trip to the top of the mountain, but thankfully it was concrete steps all the way. Every hundred metres or so there would be some table and chairs made of concrete, so it will make an ideal picnic spot or something for later. Being young and healthy as i am i was taking over many people along the way, there was a surprising amount of people on the path considering how far out this place was from the outskirts. When i got to the top i saw a Ta (a tower; see the picture i used for this blog) with the sun setting behind it. Simply incredible. I was able to climb this tower which was probably even cooler. This bought me above the tree line so i was able to see great views of not only the whole of Sanxiang, but the view on the other side of the mountain as well, which was equally as beautiful because of the sun setting behind the mountains. After snapping with my camera ferociously i was rather disappointed because the trees were still quite tall here, and it  blocked my shot of an epic panoramic shot of all of Sanxiang. I spotted another Ta which appeared to be on the tip of the mountain, so i took my chances and quickly walked over there before the light would fade on me. Passing fewer people this time, i eventually got there and it was perfect. I had the whole thing to myself, so i was able to take photos at any angle without the awkwardness that comes with taking lots of photos like when a kid runs around when he has a new toy. This time i wa sable to make my massive Panoramic shot, i recommend downloading it from the Panoramic albums as it is at full quality, and you can really get the feel of how big my town really is.
    Light was fading on me and i was half tempted to stay there until the darkness had settled to see what Sanxiang looked like when it was under darkness. I stayed until the street lights turned on in the city, but i feared not being able to navigate my way back down the mountain. So i left, in a hurry. Perhaps hurrying was a bad idea, because i knew that i was running down the path a bit too far. I had missed the turning i was aiming for. I kept running knowing that i was going the wrong way, but relying on the logic that if you keep heading down, you will get to the bottom of the mountain. I kept heading down the path until it stopped. “Shit” i thought to myself “Im bloody lost on a mountain and its getting dark, should i turn back?”, but i didn't turn back. Just kept running along paths following the colours of the steps. I had noticed earlier that pink coloured steps took you up and down and blue coloured steps would take you to recreational places like the tables and chairs i described earlier. The only thing was it was getting very dark and i was beginning to find it hard to work out the difference between the two. Without exaggerating i was running around many paths along this mountain for about 10 minutes (or maybe 15 if i exaggerate a little) but it was long enough to make me pretty scared of the dark and lonely mountains. Glad that i had reconnected myself with the familiar road where i had bumped into the other foreign chap earlier i was able to make my way back to my bike and make it homebound. 
    I was rushing back because Love (my colleague) had told me that the Chinese lesson was beginning later than usual at half 7. Lucky that it was put off a little because i had completely forgotten and i was on the mountain when it would have normally started. On the way back i stopped at the centre of town and took some night photography of the area, which i had been desperate to do since i have been here. I finished the journey off by visiting my favourite Guangxi style noodle bar and ordered rice noodle and egg. Beautiful.
    After my Chinese lesson and ended the day by watching ‘ The good the bad and the ugly’, what a good day.
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