A long climb

Trip Start Jun 03, 2006
Trip End Jun 03, 2009

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, April 28, 2007

Before me was yet another flight of stairs....the beginning of the third of 3 sets of 18 flights.  When it comes to the old adage of "no pain, no gain", the Chinese certainly seem to take every opportunity to show their respect for this philosophy.  If you're going to climb a hill or mountain or hill to worship at the top and enjoy the views, then the path is going to go straight up so that it kills your legs and numbs your mind (I swear that I'm going to end up dreaming about recurring flights of steps for a long time after today.)

If you get to Taishan, though, the climb really is worth it, not least for the huge cross-section of Chinese society you'll meet on the way up and down.  It feels a bit like one huge family outing.  Moreover, going up the mountain really is a journey of discovery, because when we arrived in TaiAn, I couldn't even see the mountain through the smoggy dust.  It's not that TaiAn is particularly dirty, but it's so dry and dusty that there is a permanent haze.  As you climb the mountain, the sky above gets bluer and bluer, and at the top there is open space and we were able to be quite alone even on this first weekend of the national holiday.

We were also lucky!  There is not a great choice of places to eat at the top, but we had fuelled up with a heavy Shandong meal before we started to climb.  You find out how far up the mountain you are by the cost of water and snacks - after all, it all gets hauled up on foot.  We were even luckier to catch the cable car down just before 6pm.  There is no information telling you the that it closes and the buses from the cable car station at the foot of the climb which shuttle to and from the town run all tight.  However, had we not wandered around the corner and seen a security guard frantically waving at us, we might have had a long walk down in the dark which would have been tiring and not a lot of fun!

As it was, I'm mighty glad we climbed TaiShan, although, I'm still not sure I understand it's significance...something to do with Emperor's making sacrifices at the top.  I pity the guys who had to carry the Emperor up, that's for sure.  Hope they enjoyed the view as much as I did!
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