Dienstag, 23. November 2010

Trip to the Huang Shan

typical view in the mountains
Last weekend we took a trip to the 黄山 (huáng shān) „Yellow mountains“, which was organised by the language partner of Christine (one of the girls in our program). The yellow mountains are actually really famous in China. It is said that once you have been there you don't need to see the other mountains in China anymore. And it is said to be unlucky to go back the same way you came there. Especially the sunset and -rise are the first thing that come to people's minds. I still haven't figured out why you would call them yellow though. I dind't feel like that was their most distinctive trait. On Friday, we went there by train (about 7 hour ride), and stayed the first night in a hotel in the city. Early on staurday morning we left to get to the mountains. We were really lucky with the weather, it was really warm, and I actually got sunburnt in the end of november. It's a really beautiful area and even on the way there the world already looked a lot more „Chinese“ than in Nanjing. Even in November there were way too many people and like in most parks I've seen so far all the tracks are paved and there are just millions of steps. But I must say that I found it great that no streets or extensively big buildings on the peaks were destroying the landscape as one might encounter it in different places all over the world.
on the left is the group I went with
In recreational areas the number of people asking to take a picture with you or even sometimes secretely taking them, only because you are a 老外 (lǎowài) „~foreigner“, seems to be heightened. But especially Christine with her white skin and straight, very long, dark hair is very popular for these pictures. We climbed a lot of peaks and the view was amazing. Apparently every stone and a lot of the pine trees have a name and a history to themselves. It was also the first time that I really saw bamboo growing like normal trees in a forest. There are also wild monkeys in that area, but we didn't see any. Probably to the best, because they aren't afraid of people and are supposed to get really annoying. On every peak one could get the name engraved on a medal, and on every scenic spot, couples could buy locks and but them on the fences. Since there are no streets, hundreds of carriers are running around with huge loads and you can also book them for carrying people on a seat mounted on two bamboo sticks. Seeing these man carrying somebody up a steep staircase, I really got reminded of feudal times.
The next night we spent in a hotel in the mountains. So we really could enjoy the great view of the sunset. I was once again a little amazed at the openness at which hotels (but also other places) explain to you that you have to pay more, because you are a foreigner. It seems normal to everybody and the prices are still really good, but it's still irritating. If you are bargaining it is one thing to try a higher price, but to use it openly as a fixed rule... Anyways, the next day we were not quite as lucky, the sunrise was mostly covered by clouds and it was starting to rain. But it was still worth it. In the train back we luckily had some beds. It's always three beds over each other. Even though next to us were some people snoring extremely loudly I managed to find some sleep and monday morning at 3 am we were back. I found it really great how Christines language partner took care of us. It was her first time in the mountains as well and I hope she also got to enjoy it through all the work and worrying she has been doing. 
tourist street with nice art
In Nanjing autumn is a little more noticeable now, but it's still green outside. The landlord was supposed to come by yesterday for rent and the bills, but he didn't. Tomorrow classes as usual. And that's it... :-)

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