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Published: August 3rd 2012
Quaint little bridge in the gardens.
Turkey sandwich, check. Cold beer, check. Blanket, check. Some good friends to bring along, check! Picnic in the old town gardens anyone?
How have I lived here for over a year and never been to this part of town? I look up at this mountain every day on my way home from work and I'm just now going to check it out? It's amazing how far we're willing to travel to see something new and exhilarating, when we sometimes forget there's a plethora of adventure within a 5-mile radius of us.
“Old town” is situated on the outskirts of dusty Wuxi, settled at the bottom of a tree-infested mountain. The gardens, ponds and streams are connected by old courtyards, circular entrance ways, and connecting quaint bridges. We eat our lunch in the garden by one of the bridges. Serenading us are some local people singing traditional Chinese songs in a nearby pavilion. I keep thinking what a cool way to spend your retirement: With friends singing karaoke in the gardens. The winding hike up the mountain came about kind of unexpectedly. One minute we're at the base having lunch in the gardens and the next we're wandering at an
Four men pay cards half-way up the Mnt.
upward incline. With no intention of a strenuous hike that day, we find ourselves halfway up a mountain, and well, we can't stop there. So on we trot.
Roughly halfway up there's this structure with four walls and no roof. Near one wall, four men gather around a card table and grumble at one another while holding onto their best poker faces. The wall opposite them holds two withered photographs of 1980's Western bodybuilders that are placed on either side of a rusted bench press. Possibly someone's attempt at the world's smallest gym? I love random things like that, you know, that stuff that sort of ruins the harmony yet shows you Earth's beautiful contrasts.
To continue the theme of fitness, we also stumble upon a pull-up bar wedged and bolted between two trees about three-quarters the way up. With the Olympics hype fresh in my mind, I decide to have a very sad attempt at some amateur gymnastics on the bar. A few safety tugs at it to check for sturdiness and up I go! Basically it just resulted in me looking like a dangling sloth (see photo).
The breeze greets us as we reach the
Me AKA Dangling Sloth.
top of the mountain, feeling instantly cool as it pierces the sweat on our foreheads. Half-expecting to see nothing but another run-down piece of workout equipment, we're thrown a bit of a curveball instead. A large deck with tables and chairs overlooking the entire city and lake with beverages for sale? What!? And the drinks are ice cold!? Trust me, drinking cold anything in China can be harder to come by than you'd think. After the vigorous hike, the leisure time on the deck is much needed and we all share some laughs and arguably the greatest view of Wuxi that exists.
Of course, soon enough it is time to hike all the way down and by the time we get back into the city limits it's safe to say we all need calf transplants. Nearly home now, I gaze back up at the mountain, like I've done many times before, still puzzled at how long it had taken me to explore this gorgeous area so near to my home (3 miles away at most). All I can say is, next time you're feeling stuck in a rut in your hometown and feel you need to 'get away' just
View from the deck at the top.
remember; Sometimes adventure really is in your backyard.
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