December 7, 2004
Trip Start Aug 08, 2004
34Trip End Aug 2005
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I got the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of Thanksgiving week off. It had nothing to do with Thanksgiving, obviously, but the 75th anniversary celebration of the school. That Wednesday, Rola planned an excursion to the countryside to visit a farmhouse
Thursday, I headed into Changsha to celebrate Thanksgiving with the WorldTeach crew at Pizza Hut. For the traditional carving of the Thanksgiving pizza, of course. The Hut was all decked out for Christmas, which made it festive, although for the wrong holiday. Christmas carols played in the background and all of the waitresses wore antlers on their heads.
Friday, Shannon and I trekked down to Zhuzhou to meet Melissa, then the three of us continued down to the city of Heng Shan, which lies at the base of the Heng Shan mountain
We woke early, around 4:30am to start hiking up the mountain by the light of the full moon. We spent the whole morning walking up, visiting the many temples along the way and enjoying the clean air. At the top of the mountain, the Nanyue Temple was hopping with people, bus loads of Chinese tourists who had come in tour groups to pray to the gods. The solitude I had expected was nowhere to be found. Between the canned music that played constantly, the firecrackers set off by the tourists to honor the gods, the souvenir shops in the temple and the monks walking around with their cell phones, the serene mystique of the mountain disappeared. Walking down was much quieter, especially once we took a detour along tiny side trails and were able to take rests next to clear mountain streams.
So now I'm back in Liuyang, where I've been for the past couple of weeks, coping with the pervasive cold that has finally set in. My apartment has a heater, but I think my bedroom might be the only heated room in the city. Even then, I can never tell when the power will be shut off due to the ongoing energy crisis, sometimes for hours at a time. It's a strange feeling, to walk into a building when it's cold outside, and not be greeted with a blast of warm air. Teaching is especially difficult, since the classrooms are also not heated. I'm back to the regular grind, a mixture of teaching and other extracurricular activities. Erhu lessons on Wednesday nights, dinner with the doctor on Tuesdays and Thursdays, English clubs and spending time with new friends...