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Climbing Mount Xianglu
Scenery on and near Mount Xianglu
Climbing the mountain
I feel a little guilty that this amazing place was only a short distance from where I have lived in China on and off for over a year. The reality is that no one had every suggested it before, and no one had told me about it. I knew there was a huge temple way on top of the mountain, as it has "towered over" the university, but it seemed so far to go.
In any case there was a group going up the mountain yesterday, and some of the foreign teachers went with staff and students.
We were to meet at 8.30 am, but there was some confusion over this, as not all who had booked to go received the message that it was ot a 9.30 am start as the notice had indicated.
Anyway, there is always some confusion at the beginning of an event with a group of Chinese, and eventually we set of around 9.15 am. It is possible to get a ride on some strange vehicle o the temple gates, but our group had decided to walk it. I wish I had taken a ride, but we didn't. I managed to get some good photos because we walked, so that is a bonus.
There seems to be some construction going on at the base of the mountain. It is always hard to find out as no one seems to know - perhaps more area for burials?. I think there were some houses there, and only one remains, stuck almost in the roadway - a rickety half cemented roadway that pushes its way upward with boring cement walls on either side, with occasional openings to catch a glimpse of what lay beyond the wall.
Onward and upward we went until we reached the roadside stalls were folk were selling incense and the women who "manned" the stalls stood on the roadway unsuccessfully trying to get us to purchase their wares.
We reached the gates to the temple area, and walked past a huge temple where many Buddhist monks were chanting. On, up and up we went.
The scenery was beautiful - gardens, lakes, stone walls with carvings, and as the steps went higher and higher there were small rest stops or pavilions along the way.
I confess that I found the going extremely tough. I'm not as fit as one should be to tackle this mountain, and I gave up quite a distance before the top. I'm pleased with my achievement, but know I was already pushing beyond my limit. I had visions of the temple workers dragging my body down in a body bag and bumping down the steps!!!
With one of the staff I sat in the waiting area waiting for everyone to come down, but the weather changed from warm and sunny, and rain clouds appeared, so we made ahasty retreat down the mountain, and waited for the group near shelter. As it happened the rain did not come.
We met up down near the temple gates, and eventually walked back out and around to a park and restaurant that I knew, though I had never eaten there.
It had been at the restaurant that we hid from the police and military when the Olympic Torch came through the area in July 2008, prior to the Beijing Olympics.
The food - traditional Chinese food - kept coming and we had a lovely meal. My friend and I were the last to leave and we walked back through another area of the park but found we could not get out. The only gate was locked, and we contemplated a longer walk to the exit we were familiar with.
But, we noticed a track through the grass and found an opening in the fence where a doona cover had been strategically placed to make it easier to get out. Soon we were out, not ar from the university gate - saving us a walk of a few kilometers.
Weary bones and body, but a great day.