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Visit to Houshan
Houshan for Peach Blossom
Touring with the students
During the week one of the students invited me to go to Houshan with him and a few other students, and by Thursday I had some more details. They wanted to meet me in my office at 7.30 am on Saturday. No, not a good idea. It would mean I would walk 1 km before our adventure even started and I quite rightly calculated that we'd need to catch the bus at the West Gate, so I agreed to meet them there at 8.30 am - an hour later than their original plan.
A 8.20 am as my friend and I were leaving to reach the West Gate, my phone went. When I answered it, the student asked "Are you up yet?" and then "Dianna, where are you, we are waiting."
So we rushed to the gate, and quickly got on the No 2 bus to the centre of town where we were to catch No 1 bus to Houshan.
When No 1 bus arrived there was some shouting between the driver and the students and the driver apparently told them that the bus did not go to Houshan. So there were phone calls in all directions, and discussions with many folk on the street, and the student in charge decided that we needed to catch another bus, so our little group of 11 headed off in another direction. We were told to catch the number 137 bus, but when bus 157 arrived there was shrieking and yelling and we were all pushed on to this bus.
Luckily we got a seat, rather squashed in as the bus was crowded and wended its way through the city and outer suburban area to the "country." There was lots fo shouting and we got off the bus - still many kilometers from our destination.
"Wait a moment" we were told. Another student is coming. But they could not contact him as his phone battery was flat. By this stage we had been on our strange journey for nearly 2 hours and were no where near Houshan!
Eventually the student arrived and our little group, now 12 of us went to catch another bus. We waited at the bus stop, and waited. Then the boys disappeared and others made phone calls, and it appears that there would be no bus.
The student who was last to join our group disappeared, we saw him running like a herd of wild animals were about to catch him. But we were told to, you may guess, "Wait a moment".
Some 20 minutes later a small van arrived with enough seating for 5 people, and we all climbed in. The students squatted in the back of the van, my friend and I got a seat, and we careered around the streets until we arrived at Houshan. There was lots of laughing and screaming as we rounded corners and the students fell onto a pile! (It appears it was the uncle of the student, and he works for the government so could take us in the van!)
As I keep saying - almost every moment is an adventure here, and I sometimes feel like laughing uncontrollably wondering what my friends and family would think if they were able to see the adventures we have. We arrived near the entrance and quickly fell out all over the place laughing as we exited the little van the quickly disappeared as we headed for the entrance.
I had visited this place exactly two years ago - and was quite surprised how much it had changed. There were so many vendors inside and outside the park, and clearly the place was very popular.
Sadly the peach blossoms that we had all come to see were few and far between as the weather has played havoc with a lot of agriculture. Still it was possible to see some lovely scenery.
The commercialism though is just too much now - which is a shame.
There was a tent of strange quirks of nature, including a two headed ballet dancer, a baby with a long tail, and other odd things. There was a large monkey at the entrance that seemed to be quite popular, but it was sad to see it a the end of a short chain.
We set up and climbed up and up. I remember at my last visit it was raining, and the stairs were slippery, but this time it was dry. I was able to take better photos - but it was hazy which limited the quality of the views.
It was high over the river and the rapeseed plants were in full bloom with lots of yellow fields.
We climbed to the top of the mountain and visited the Buddhist temples on the top, before coming back down the mountain.
There were lots of photos taken, and admiring of the spring blossoms, and looking at the strange sideshow alley type entertainment.
Thousands of people were enjoying the place, and sadly we made not of the awful Chinese habit of throwing rubbish on the ground. There's no attempt to find a bin, which are few and far between, but we find it odd that they love their country, think it is beautiful, but still drop their rubbish anywhere. It is a disgusting habit.
Eventually we found a small place to eat. We were ushered into a small room with a big wooden table and an assortment of stools, and after lots of shouting between staff and students we managed to get some food. It was very cheap, and poor quality, though we found it OK. The fish soup was excellent.
We all paid about 15 RMB for our lunch, which was quite a feed - even if the soup was watery, and the rice no to the liking of the students.
We headed for the exit, but some of the students wanted to stay. I was keen to return home - it had been a very tiring day, so a small group of students remained and we left with some students who were also tired.
Again we had the confusion of the bus - but we walked and walked until we found a bus station and soon we were packed in again on the way back to town. Back into the city square,and then on Number 2 bus, which delivered us back to the school West Gate.
What a day! Lots of laughs! Wonderful experience!