Edit Blog Post
Published: October 15th 2006
Autumn is a beautiful time of the year. Of course, the leaves are changing into red, orange, and yellow, fluttering in the cool breeze and shining in the dull sun. I know autumn is here when I can breathe in the crisp, cool air and smell pumpkins, popcorn, pecan pies, and empty candy wrappers.
Autumn is easily missed when in a city like Shenyang, or, well, ANY city in China. Which is exactly why Monica and I got up at 7 o'clock to brave the cold morning in t-shirts.
The cold continued to hit us as we waited at the crowded bus station for tickets. It was what I was really focusing on while Monica and her three friends humored one another while chatting in Chinese. Suddenly, they stopped talking and I noticed all four of them were looking directly at me.
"Do you think she's fat?" Monica asked me while pointing to her, well, kind of chubby friend.
Startled, I replied, "I think she's pretty." That brought another confusing round of laughter. On that note, we boarded the bus.
The bus was full. Everyone wanted to go to the mountain on their holiday. So, once it was
loaded and took off, it began to get warm, and I believe we all slept most of the hour and a half ride. We passed by the rural, agricultural villages tucked into the hills, standing apart from the rows and rows of endless corn stalks. Each small, wooden shack had a porch that was piled with fresh ears of corn. I tried to imagine what it would be like to live there: to work in the fields all day, probably eating corn for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the free time, transporting corn to populated areas to sell for a cheap income. Back home, after the chores are done, getting together with the neighbors, lighting a fire, and sitting around on sticks and dirt, chomping down on....corn. Maybe I'm getting too carried away with this.
When we got off the bus to the mountain, I was anxious to see a rugged trail that was meant for us to climb to the top of the mountain. On the contrary, the "hike up" the mountain, was actually just a hike on a paved road around the mountain. While walking along the lake, taking in our first views of the beautiful landscape,
Monica explained to me that the vendors we would soon meet all get their produce directly from the mountains and it is "very delicious". Soon after, we spied a small crowd of people gathered around a small bin attached to a bicycle. "Corn! I love corn!" Monica said. She bought an ear of steamed corn for each of us. Not long and we were along vendor alley. Several individual farmers had barbecued corn, baskets of dried fruit, (including a popular red berry found on the mountain that is manufactured into many different types of produce), nuts, (one kind of nut was served warm and had a sweet-potato-like center), and even live fish, craw-dads, and frogs.
We crossed a bridge and decided to take a bus that would drop us off farther along the road. The bus whizzed along the trail, passing lakes with stand-up canoes and fluttering the colorful autumn leaves that were overtaking the black pavement.
When we were dropped off, we just walked. I wish I could tell you more than that, but the walk was like an internal refresher. We just soaked it all in. The weather was cool and beautiful; the cleanest air I
had inhaled since leaving my hometown. The sun was gleaming through the yellow and orange leaves and sparkled on the brooks. Every once in a while we'd pause in our walk and sit down on a round, gray stone by the brook and listen to the water running.
Walking back, we spied a wishing tree. We jumped on some stones to cross the brook and reach the tree. A vendor was selling wishes: 10 yuan for a large heart-shaped string and 5 yuan for a smaller, colorful string. I suppose the more you spend, the more chance you have of your wish coming true. 😊 After Monica and her friend bought a wish, they reached back and threw it up into the air until it caught on the tree. I did not buy a wish. I had all I could wish for. 😊 Actually, I just couldn't stand the thought of buying one, throwing it up into the air, and then having it fall on my face. That would destroy my hope. and my face.
The tree is one of the most beautiful internal pictures of China that I possess though. Hope, joy, happiness, and ancient chinese philosophy
are branches of that tree. The beauty of the tree is timeless; it will never grow old. It will always be there to welcome a new generation with hope and prosperity for the future. (I know, so touching.)
The return bus was leaving at 2:30 so we had to turn back. Only one of Monica's friends spoke english, (the kind of chubby one), but she was shy about it so Monica kept trying to encourage her to speak. We were talking about what a great cook Monica was. Then that led to how great each of our mother's could cook. I was told that Monica's friend's mother used to own a restaurant.
"My mom is a very good cook", she said.
Monica replied, "Yes, well, just look at her, you can tell her mom's a good cook!"
And we all just laughed.
We caught the bus just in time and rode
it for a short while before stopping at a Buddhist temple.
No pictures allowed inside: disrespectful. But I can tell you it was a lot of incense and a lot of typical Buddhist statues and typical monks. We had the chance to get our fortunes read by the monks though. We followed the guide into a cave-like area. In the room, everyone on the tour drew a flat stick with a number on it. I was told mine was 16 so I returned my stick and asked for "shi liu!". I recieved a thin sheet of paper with symbols on it and took it in my hands like a prayer. I was led around to the back to stand in line to recieve my fortune from one of the three monks. Standing in line, ignorantly listening to others getting their prophesies (actually just reading the looks on their faces), I realized that they take these prophets very
very seriously. One man cut in front of me to eagerly show his paper to the monk and requested to be told everything about each area of his life. He looked very concerned and even almost frightened at some times. When it was my turn, (Monica translated for me), I asked specifically about my work. I was told that I would have a very good job, but I would have a person who tries to compete with me, a bad person, and I just need to ignore that "bad person" and I will succeed.
Oh, and I also had to pray to a certain god named..K k k something....So I was dragged around the corner and bowed, just like a monk would, to an intricate statue of a woman goddess that was carved into a cave wall. Then we were brought to another wall outside the cave where we were supposed to place the stickers that we had recieved at our arrival. Placing the sticker on that wall brings safety to your family. So don't worry fam, you are protected!
I really enjoyed that tour. It was very interesting.
Tot: 2.608s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 12; qc: 89; dbt: 0.0602s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb