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Published: October 3rd 2008
Bitumen road! and what i thought was our destination- the cave.
All everyone wanted to do was to get the hell out of Guizhou. The situation was looking hopeless. If it gets worse, students would have to be sent home. It was sad really because the hosts cooked a table full of breakfast for us. At the breakfast table, I carefully avoided those fragile girls who were still shaken from last night. I sat with the my new friends who I made on camp, those who were not so easily defeated by mountains and who appreciated the hospitality of the locals.
We left the village sometime between 9 and 10. Peopled eyed longingly at the coke on the drinks stand. I was surprised that I was walking on bitumen, civilization at last! I couldn’t help notice packs being passed , after asking around I found out that boys took turns to carry the packs of the sick ones. Very thoughtful and touching.
Around 11 we entered some sort of gateway where I saw other tourism groups. Upon entry I immediately spotted a huge cavern in the far distance that must have been our destination. I asked the ChinaClimb guide. He must have been kidding because he said we can’t see
My Hiking Boots
My hiking boots failed me, still nothing wrong with trying to make it look better with decorations.
our destination yet since by the rate we were going it’ll take us a full day to reach. Soon we arrived at another river. Guizhou seemed to be made out of nothing but rivers and mountains, and gullies and mountains and lakes and mountains. Did I mention mountains?!
I should have known that that calming boat trip was just to get us prepared for the hike we were about to embark on. To start with it was quite bearable; we were merely walking in a sand trail. My feet in my hiking boots, already full of blisters had to fight against the tiny sand particles. The tide of tourists gradually thinned as we began ascending on even stairs. The stairs eventually corroded into rocks.
We hit the road straight after digesting the same lunch as yesterday. Except the word ‘road’ would be a bit of an understatement. The rugged and jagged vertical trail meant everyone had to scramble with their hands. It was nothing short of rock-climbing. I was grabbing onto the heels of the person in front of me all the time. Everywhere looked the same once again, like that scene in the beginning of Lord of
the Rings- Two Towers with Frodo and Sam. Just as we were wondering whether we were lost amongst all these protruding rocks, a couple of kids sitting on a mound waved frantically at us.
They were the primary kids we were going to visit according to the guides. The kids normally use 2 hours to walk the same distance we’d been covering for the whole day. Some kids live so far away that they are forced to stay in the school for the whole week, only visiting their parents on the weekends. In such a poverty-stricken village, the Primary School is the only source of education and hope for the mountains of Shuitang district, Ziyun county of southwest Guizhou. The school is called Mid-Cave Primary School, so named because it resides in a massive cavern The school was built back in 1984 with 180 or so students (Miao and Buyi ethnic groups) and 8 teachers. Recently the school has been a focus for many charity funds. Prior to starting out we each prepared a simple and thoughtful gift for the kids, such as balls or pencil case.
After hearing about how some kids spend 6 hours trudging up
The kids at the Primary School who encouraged us.
the ridge for education, a lot of us put our heads down shamefully. Touched by the kids’ motivation to learn, we made through the rest of the hills with the minimal amount of protest. It was dusk when we arrived at the mouth of the cave. Gasps were drawn at the beauty that nature had to offer. Inside the cave, scattered were a dozen houses and its fowls. In the middle was a sandpit. For the kids however it was a basketball court, soccer field and generally a playground. The cave’s main light source was natural sunlight, at the back of the cave you can’t even make out the ceiling, so no one’s sure how tall the cave is. I felt so small.
The sick students immediately were told to either lie or sit down with hot water bottles and plenty of water. The healthy ones, spying soccer balls went to play along with the kids, kicking up sand in everyone’s faces. Pablo, Angela and I isolated ourselves from the rest to explore the classrooms. There were a few students still studying under the dim light. I was surprised to see the use of electricity. The classrooms were poorly
The Crater like ceiling, almost supernatural and the basketball hoop.
constructed out of wood. Angela and I communicated in mandarin with the enthusiastic kids. We soon warmed up to the girls who kept calling us ‘sister’. It was sad that we had to leave them for dinner.
The Cave was suppose to be the coldest destination of the whole camp, yet the cold had not caught up with me yet, which meant all the heavy winter clothes I brought were nothing but waste and burden. We spent the night in the classrooms. Boys and girls were in separate rooms. The toilets were disgusting, I'd rather not talk about it. It was only when I finally crawled into my sleeping bag that I realized how much the ceiling resembled moon craters. It was almost a supernatural feeling, like I was stuck in some surreal Star Wars movie. And I am a huge fan of Star Wars.
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