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Published: December 8th 2007
Amy and Emanuel at the bottom
Bold adventurers preparing to set off.
This weekend we finally managed to climb Taishan, the large 4000ft mountain which we are staying under. Regular readers will know we had been to the top of the mountain on National Day by bus and cable car although due to bad weather we were not really able to see anything at all. Our trip this time was quite different; the weather was cool and a little misty. We started from the main eastern entrance on our steady climb. Our friend Emanuel, another foreign English teacher also came with us. Emanuel’s parents are from Hong Kong he was born and raised in Canada.
The path, made of square slabs is very well engineered and travels quite steeply up the mountain; most of the rise is done using huge flights of steep steps. On either side of the steps are stands selling food and trinkets as well as a number of temples to various Daoist and Chinese Buddhist deities. The lower part of the mountain is wooded and we wound through the trees between temples catching occasional sights of the impressive view.
Despite being late in the year there where many other Chinese climbers including many old
A Fiery statue
To wish us luck on our way
men and women. Climbing Mount Tai is supposed to help bring all manner of spiritual benefits and luck to the climber and the water is supposed to be very beneficial to the health. Many elderly will travel to the base of the mountain to collect water each morning and collect large plastic containers-full to carry back home. I bought a beautiful clay musical instrument thing in the shape of an owl for Amy for Christmas. (If you've seen My Neighbour Totoro, it's one of the type that Totoro plays from the top of a tree in the evening). As we climbed we soon rose above the haze that often covers Tai’an and the air became beautifully clear, looking back towards the town we could see the buildings enveloped in a murky mist.
The half way point up the climb is Zhongtianmen (halfway-to-heaven gate). This is where the bus road up the mountain stops and where we stopped for a very pleasant lunch of beef noodles and a chicken and peanut dish which arrived with one half peanut we spilt up. Amy and Emanuel proceeded by cable car as planned and I in a fit of bravado decided to continue
The prayers of the faithful
Attached to a tree in one of the temples on the way up.
on foot. The start of the final ascent is quite gentle with more stalls, a beautiful bridge and may inscriptions made in Chinese on the stone. Some of these are very old and done by famous calligraphers.
Once you have reached this part of the walk and passed several pines that where promoted to ministers of the 5th grade after the Emperor had hidden underneath them in a heavy storm you reach the final climb. This is the toughest part of the climb, a long continuous stair between two walls of rock, the gate of Nantianmen, standing silhouetted against the sky at the top. I managed to drag my way to the top of the stairs, Chinese Grannies seemingly impervious to the effects of the climb smiling and making encouraging gestures as they steamed past me. I was somewhat encouraged that the group of Chinese students behind me seemed to be taking equally long.
At the top the group met back up again and we enjoyed the fine view from the top before taking the cable car back down through the glow of the setting sun. Once back down, too tired to think about cooking tea for ourselves,
Horse turn back gate
Here the Emperor Zhen Zhong's horse decided it would go no further and the emperor had to dismount.
it was off to our favourite restaurant for Tangcu ligi, a kind of sweet and sour pork.
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