The Scotsman that went up a hill

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Before I start this entry off I must apoligise to David. After he read my last entry he complained that I'd neglected to mention his marvelous victory over me in the noble game of Chinese Chess. So David, I'm sorry, you're brilliant and our series of games is tied at 2.5 each.

We got up early and onto a short 3 hour bus to Nan Yue. This is where one of China's Holy Mountains, Heng Shan, is located. We'd had enough of big cities for a little while and this marked that start of a few days in the countryside.

The problem that we had when we arrived was that we though that the town we wanted to go to was called Heng Shan. Therefore when the bus driver stopped and threw us off the bus we were very confused at the fact he told us that we were actually in Nan Yue. Fortunately Dave's Rough Guide had this little gem of information to clear up the rather confusing matter while my Lying Lonely Planet gave no such hint. No matter, we were in the place that we wanted to get to.

A nice man at the bus station that spoke English helped us find our cheapest and grottiest room thus far in China (and more than likely picked up a few Yuan from the Guesst House owners for his trouble). The toilet was a squat affair which wasn't really a problem but the shower was arranged directly above it. It's a bit weird showering this way but I guess it's just efficient! There was also a big window next to the shower which didn't have any sort of curtain or blind, I'm pretty sure that the glass was cloudy enough to preserve my, David's and Nicola's modesty but I'm not 100% sure on that one...

The town of Nan Yue was an absolute joy. You could actually walk across town in about half an hour if you desired, a vast improvement from the Metropoli that we'd been used to. Also the amount of traffic whizzing around town was kept to a minimum due to its size. I guess that this is one place that taxi drivers find it hard to make a living.

On day of arrival we just wandered around town and visited the local temple. Due to its proximity to the Holy Mountain it's a popular place for Chinese to visit in order to make pilgramages to honour the spirit of their deceased relatives. The temple was as beutiful as expected, being based on the same design as the Forbidden city in Beijing, it just didn't go on as long. The homage that the locals partake in involve the burning of incense and fire crackers. They have a special 'Fire House' set up for this exact reason. It looks like a normal house except that there is a raging fire inside. The locals come up throw in huge amounts of offerings, often plastic bags included, and say a quick prayer to the huge plume of toxic smoke or to the rapid fire of the fire crackers. It's a full time occupation for this little house as it serves hundreds of pilgrims every hour. A most bizarre sight.

On our second day we rose early to avoid the blistering heat of the afternoon in order to climb the mountain. It all started well enough, we started climbing at a respectable rate but slowed down a little as the morning progressed, it was steep afterall. The day was still overcast and we were grateful for the fine cool weather that we were enjoying. Once we reached the first major part, up to the cable car, it started to rain. At first we thought it'd just be a light shower, but no, it kept on coming and in fact got harder. We huddled there for a while before deciding that the rain wasn't going anywhere fast. We were rather disappointed as we'd hoped to climb the entire mountain but it really wouldn't be much fun in the rather drizzly weather, so we got the cable car up to near the summit. The ride was rather superb as we mananged to get a brilliant view over the forested hillside that we weren't walking up.

When we reached the top of the cable section we were robbed of amazing vistas of the Hunnan countryside. No problem, keep on going. I'd like to add at this point that the hillside was amazingly busy considering that we were so high up, of course a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that you can take public transport along each and every stage of the route to the top (except the last Kilometer) which of course we tried to shun since we were so hardy. The last stretch to the summit consisted of walking through thick mist up a steep road for the last 5Km, great! When we reached the top we could barely make out the temple which adourns the top and were able to gaze of a view that extended about 2 feet from our face. We'd chosen a great day for this.

Nicola bought something (sorry Nicola, I can't remember what you bought) from a monk in this temple, as part of the deal he blessed the item for her. I tried to convince Nicola that he may not actually be a real monk but instead an actor place there by the communist party to act like he's blessing items, but she wasn't having any of it. My reasoning was that 'The Party' usualy assign jobs to people based on nepotism or due to bias, therefore it's possible that a real monk hadn't been assigned to that particular job. I think that it gives food for thought!

We managed to get down without further problems especially since we took the cable car again and then a bus down most of the rest.

We headed back to our room again for a quick exhibitionalist shower before starting our next, rather complicated journey that would take us to Yangshou, the chill capital of China. Till Next time....

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