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April 14th 2010
Published: April 14th 2010
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Hiking Near 大学城 - "College City"



I took video of a brook in the valley where we were hiking, mainly because I thought the sound of the water was so lovely and I wanted to record it. Amy thought I was photographing her, so I started a mini-interview. I asked her if she was tired from hiking (this was kind of a joke, because we didn't get much mountain-climbing in that day). She then said something that I understood at the time, but now I cannot remember her answer and I can't figure out what she is saying in the video! For me context (and good sound quality) is really, really important.

We started out from College City (a small "town" made up of the rural, secondary campus sites of some local universities) this past Sunday with the hopes of a nice walk in the country. We were climbing though pines in hills that reminded me of California when a man from Fire Prevention called us down and told us the fire risk was too high (more echoes of California). He probably followed us in when he saw our cars heading into the hills.

We were slightly dissappointed, but our friends (who hike the hills and mountains around Huhehaote every weekend) had another place in mind. We drove through increasingly mountainous country until we reached a small valley. Cycling enthusiasts in full gear were working their way up the steep inclines on the highway; we pulled off at a make-shift gravel parking lot right below a steep ridge. Amy and I were huffing and puffing (glad I wasn't the only one) while our friends had made it to the steepest part of the ridge and were working their way up to the top. That was when Amy ran into an old friend - who she hadn't seen in over twenty years! He was hiking with his young son. We all had engagements for lunch back in the city, so we sat on a small outcropping of rocks and chatted before heading back down.

I was struck by how familiar this kind of conversation was, even in Chinese - things to the effect of "You look great, you haven't changed much," etc. When we got back to the valley floor and the cars, we followed Amy's friend to a small farmstead where he gets spring water. The man's
Second attempt of the day Second attempt of the day Second attempt of the day

Much harder terrain
five-year-old son sat in the front seat of our car and oh-so-maturely directed Amy to the right house (kids are great).

It was cool going into one of those courtyard-structures; there were chickens scratching in the yard, and right as we were about to enter a man emerged with a pole across his back, carrying two large baskets of compost(?) out to the fields. I got video but forgot to keep the camera upright the whole time as I looked at the well and all around the house. I won't torture you with that failure of cinematography, although the exclamations of the small boy were quite funny.

Came back to town and had lunch with a friend at a Korean BBQ place. We ordered tons of food: cold noodles in soup, tempura veggies, sushi, and stuff for grilling on our own personal, charcoal-fired griddle. We didn't talk much at first because we were both pretty hungry. After getting a bit of fuel in us, we discussed the beauty of learning language (we agreed that the best part about it was communication, period). All in all, a very good day.

Signing off - Sam






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