Sunday, October 24, 2004
It was day 2 of our stay. Waking up in the frigid morning air we hurriedly dressed (why do I lie? We went to bed dressed in our warmclothes. Womb type coverings nonwithstanding, it was damn cold! FYI-my sis informed me that China south of the Yangtze never gets heat. So this place, at 9-10,000 feet, never gets heat [unless you are wealthy enough to afford brick coals?]. Yikes.)) and headed down to meet our Chinese friends for breakfast. Good times and our hotelier drove us to the 'trailhead'. Actually, he dropped us off on the side of the road next to a deer trail looking path up the side of a hill. I was preparing my pack when Oliver (Chinese friend's english name. Muchlike mine was Diego in high school. I look like a Diego, don't I?)told us to hurry and run. Huh? I looked up and they were all gone so I grabbed my pack and scampered up shoving bushes and thorns aside in hot pursuit. My first hint that we were scofflaws.
We wandered for a while, the Chinese folk lost and confused as to where to go (though Rachelle and I knew right away). After following them down a couple wrong paths, we took control and started leading. Long story short (since we have to leave soon to catch a train, and a majority of this day isn't all that interesting.) time. We were prepared for a long day-lots of water, bread rolls from breakfast, peanuts and crackers (the right stuff for a growing boy!). 5 hours into the day (after 1 the other 4 looked ready to drop, but in the interests of posing with the end view they doggedly kept walking. This day, we vowed to not let them kill themselves and leave us stranded in the dark [no horses were present]), a beautiful day ( we got amazing views of the 4 sisters [blowupable and frameable I am hoping. Eventually I will download all the digs and put them online. Hopefully in Beijing in just under 2 weeks], the trail was on a marvelous green hillside filled with yaks old structures working Chinese Tibetan hillfolk and surrounded by snowcapped peaks. Whew!), we stopped for a rest. Since it looked to be a long one, I ate my crackers then laid back and put my hat over my eyes. The warm sun covered me up and the cool breeze kept me at the perfect temp. Finallyu away from the noise of people and cities I pushed the buzz of converstation and focused on the wonderful peace and quiet. I drifted in and out and as I was going down for the third time, Rachelle told me I had to get up and that we had to hide? Still mostly asleep I arose wondering from who/what we were hiding. Still packing my bag, Oliver told us that park people were ahead checking for tickets in. Oops. We started moving (waiting for the signal from our guide [the Chinese hired a Tibetan woman we passed to be our guide. Down this easily discernible trail. But she was about to be worth her weight in RMBs) and almost immediately the guide waved us into the bushes.
Now, I was still mostly asleep and all I saw (barely) was quick movement from the others. I took off pellmell towards the trees and was 30 feet in (scratched and beaten) before realizing what I was doing. I dove headfirst into a bush (stupid pointy razor sharp leaves! Who came up with that idea?) and covered my head. R walked up shaking her head and sat down beside me. Clapping 15 minutes later reassured us that we were ok and we resumed hiking.
All was well and good for the next hour (yes, that's 6 hours in now) and then more waving. This time I was awake which was good-all thefoliage near the trail was low so it was a longer run. But I found the perfect little hiding place and almost took a nap it was so cozy! So yes, I am like my sister in that I have now had to flee and hide from the po-po. I have no idea how much we skipped out on paying or what the penalty would have been, but that's ok. I don't need to know. HEHE!! What fun!
Our hike out ended an hour later, 7 hours in. And these guys were BEAT! Our guide fortunately (earning her money again) pushed them to keep moving and we made it out in 3.5 hours (yes, we were barely moving going out). Fortunately we made it back before sundown and caught a sunset that was....anticlimactic. No good colors on the 4sisters. So be it.
That was the exciting parts of that story. It's fun to be scofflaws!
Sorry to those of you I have not emailed back yet. I'll get to it. The computers here are finicky and we can't always access our email (somedays gmail works and yahoo doesn't, the next day is reversed, etc). We are leaving Chengdu in a couple of hours on an 18 hour train ride to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors. We'll then leave either tomorrow night (hopefully, even though we'll only have been off the train for about 10 hours) or the next day on a 20-hour or so ride to Shanghai. After that we are going to another region (I forget the name) to climb a holy mountain, see Confucious's place and relax for a couple of days before training again to Beijing where we are meeting up with one of R's friends and one of my buddy's brothers (who lives there).
That is our schedule (subject to change at a moment's notice) for the next couple weeks. After a week.5 in Beijing it's time for Thailand! Warmth and less travel, I can't wait! And surf lessons!!
A couple of notes:
Audis and VW's (mostly Jettas which are the car of choice for taxis) are huge here. So if you have, or have ever had either, you would fit in perfectly here (if you are reborn as Chinese of course).
That's all for now. Gotta run and eat lunch so we don't go another day without food (we had a stretch of almost a weeik eating very little. A couple days with no real meal and the rest of our food was ramen typestuff crackers and oreos. Yes, I am losing weight. But not from my stupid oversized hips where I need it gone! Poopers!)