The Benxi Cave....!!!!
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Published: October 10th 2006
Hey look! It's....all of us.
Monday morning at 7:00, Amber, Jonathon and I loaded up our bags and began the walk to the bus. I could see the sad looks on the faces of my suppliers as we passed them by. "Ni qu na er?" My fruit stand lady asked with concern. (Where are you going?)
I made the motion of a mountain with my hands and she nodded with understanding. It would be a whole week before she could ever see my kuai again.
We entered that all-too-common awkward situation where we are on a bus with about 30 people that we don't know. And they are speaking Korean, mind you. Oh well, I popped in some raisins and sat down. As the bus passed the "small" city of Dalian, a boy came through the aisle and handed us a roll of sushi, a green orange, and a bottle of water. I love sushi in the morning. (I'm not being sarcastic. Really, I loooove sushi.)
Then we took about a 10-15 minute rest before they started tossing out junk food. Chips, moon pies, candy........sooooo much food. Food is the best way to make friends though. 😊
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When we arrived to the Benxi cave area, we ate some more. This time it was the traditional, spicy rice topped with egg. We got our jackets and headed toward the cave.
Even in Benxi you can't get away from the street vendors/stalkers and homeless beggars. I think to be homeless is a very horrible, but fascinating way of life. In case you wonder why I take pictures of it. I hope it's not rude.
We waited in line outside of the cave. It was a huge line. October is national holiday so everyone is traveling and touring the hotspots. So we distracted ourselves by taking pictures. When you get in the water-filled cave, everyone is given a huge jacket and sent off on a boat that fits about a dozen people. I mean 12; I don't know if there is such thing as a dozen in China.
The whole cave was 3 miles I think? But that's only
how far the boat took us into. It's bigger than that. Like any cave, there is still lots to be explored. It was so spooky, cold, and wet, and pretty. They didn't mind if you took flash photography and had their own light show set up with dragons, dinosaurs (Kong Long!!!), and cavemen. Each interesting area was named something like "fairy" , "palace", "emperor", "jade", or "heaven". Phillip and I tried to escape from the boat and swim to the fairy palace but the stalagmites were holding us back. And the stalactities were too strong. Curse you!
So after the cave, the Koreans were eager to get the barbeque started. So we hopped on a bus through the land of flooded rice, across a bridge almost too narrow for the bus to cross, and settled near some trees on the side of the mountain. A huge stage and several tables were awaiting us. We pumped up some music, lit some fires, and got out the food. Korean meals always start out with several small snack dishes. One very popular dish is this really spicy cabbage plant. And the barbeque is small pieces of meat grilled over a fire. Then
you put the meat on a piece of lettuce and throw on condements: garlic, peppers, rice, and don't forget the tasty red sauce. Wrap it up in the lettuce and give it away as a friendship offering. 😊
After the meal, we got in our groups and played some Korean games. It was so much fun. I don't even have to tell about it because I have video. Yea! Check it ooooooout. (The links should be right next to my name the the top.) ((I hope it works.))
After the barbeque, we went to our hostel. Our room had four beds and a complementary quilt, pillow, and slippers. It was very cold in our room and not so cold on the other side of the hall so we traded with a group of boys. Girls can do that.
None of the Koreans had plans to go to sleep so the leader, Peter, rented a room in another building. I went with them to see what kind of games they were going to play. The room was like a banquet hall with lots of chairs so everyone formed a huge circle. They started playing this game where, according
to my translator, the youngers are against the elders. As with most cultures, the elders are always respected and the youngers...not so much. So in this game the youngers throw out ironic comments like they are the elders. It was a very funny game. I think. I don't understand Korean. But I laughed when they did. And I nodded when my translator friend tried to explain the comment. I could gather that it is a game of wit. And although I loved being around such enjoyable people; I was nodding off and had to turn in for the night.
That morning, I woke as they all were getting in from a long night of games. We chatted for a few minutes and ate some noodles. They left on the bus back to Dalian. Then Peter and a girl named Katherine took me to the bus station so I could meet Monica in Shenyang. It would only be a few (48) hours before my return to Benxi.
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