A Travellerspoint blog

I Wish I Had My Own Theme Music

- Family guy

We woke up this morning to a scene like something from out of a movie...

Films don't have to add a soundtrack in China, it really sounds like this every day :)


Seeing as there was a cell phone store across the street, we decided to refill our cell phone with minutes before heading up to Taishan. A little over an hour later after visiting several cell phone stores who all directed us further down the road, we decided that we weren't going to find a store that would refill our minutes. We gave up right in front of a bus stop, and the first bus that came Joe asked if they were going to Taishan, and he motioned for us to hurry up and get on the bus (was that the answer to the question? Maybe.)

The bus dropped us off at a roundabout right in front of some pillars that led the way to the mountains, making it so the mountains were like the temples themselves. The intricate detail carved into every pillar was impressive. Dragons wrapped themselves around the clouds, some holding onto little balls of Chi that released energy in poofs of smoke that must have been the essence of the morning mist on the mountains, but now was probably only the smog from Tai'an. But maybe not, the air was so much fresher here than in Shinjin, you could actually take a deep breath and feel good about doing so.


Beyond the pillars was another roundabout filled with busses that appeared to take you up the mountain. Now Joe told me that the story goes that whoever can climb to the top of Taishan would live to be 100 years old. Is this a testament to faith? Or is it just that anyone healthy enough to make it to the top will probably live a long time? Either way, what does it mean if you take a bus to the top? Does that take 20 years off you life expectancy? We didn't chance finding out.

We did got to the ticket office though, and it seemed to be 30 yuen for the ride up, and then 125 yuen to enter the staircase. But where was the staircase? We tried to ask the ticket office, but our Chinese was hopeless. So we just left and walked over to the map that had everything but a distinct “you are here” marker. At least in America they put a big star as the marker. Here we assumed it was labeled, but being that the map was all in Chinese, we guessed.

Fist we headed across the bridge to someone's tomb,


but all you could see was a wall with his picture on it in golden emboss.

Next we kept walking up the street past all sorts of kiosks selling rocks with Chinese symbols carved into them, walking staffs, and all sorts of prayer beads, jewelry and Chinese knots with tassels. The road kept going up, but we took a detour into the Daoist park filled with pagodas, ponds, and dried up waterfalls (most water sources in China are now dam(n)ed).


Side note: In present time we are in Beijing and one of our friends told us that there are 2 rivers that go into the city... but none that leave it. This causes him some concern because if there is so much need for water that the city can drink 2 rivers dry, then where does their liquid waste go? (Faucets? Is this why you shouldn't drink the water in China?)

The park was still very nice, and we can only imagine how beautiful it would look in spring when the trees become green and the flowers bloom. Well, we could do more than imagine because all the pictures on the maps and billboards are of Taishan in the spring with greenery and trees loaded with cherry blossoms (or as our friend Haorong calls them: peach blooms).

---> dam(n)


We crossed the dam(n) at the base, then climbed up the stairs to see that above the dam(n) there was a very nice lake with a double pagoda standing in it. There were also people standing in the water even though it was close to freezing that day. The men going into the water with their swim caps and speedos would give this “barbaric yalp” before entering into the water that was always answered by some anonymous person hiking into the mountains. Then their yells would be echoed by someone else, and it would jump around you in surround sound. Their yells would start medium loud, and then when they would be close to running out of air they would get louder and louder until they end with a sharp grunt.


We crossed the dam(n) again after hiking a little ways up the road and realizing that this path was more for the busses, and that most of the people sining their yalps were coming from the same side of the lake we started on. Here we found a narrow staircase (still not at the main one yet), and we figured that if we climbed up high enough that the map showed that what could possibly be the staircase we were on would meet up with the main staircase around the halfway point (maybe).

On the staircase we saw loads of people carrying water jugs, but none of them had water in it. Then we passed people carrying full water jugs on either side of 2x4's across one shoulder heading down the sitars. I felt kinda silly carrying my water bottle up the sitars with water already in it. It seemed much more efficient to take the light load up the stairs, and then carry the heaver stuff back down. About an hour later we figured out where all these people were going, the one waterfall left with enough water to actually fall.


It seemed that there was a sacred spring that came out of the mountain that people would hike up about ¼ of the mountain to get to. We weren't sure if it was safe for drinking though since we never saw the source of the spring, just the tiny river that flowed through the top of this mountain valley. We assumed that with the large bridge that went over this creek that the river used to be much bigger, so to honor the once great river Joe did Daofanza (which we think translates to big fanza).

After this we found the bus road again, and we decided to follow it a bit in hopes that it would lead us to the main staircase. Along the way we found a little house with a farm and we went to walk along their path that dipped down into a little ravine next to the road. I was following the path with Joe for a bit, but then I turned back because I realized what they were farming near the path... bees. The old man who was living(?)/ working there was very excited to see us, “Hello!” he called and ran up to us. Joe attempted to hold a conversation with the man in Chinese, and the old man tried to do the same in English. After a few phrases the two of them seemed to really be able to understand each other, and I figured that they would be okay without me, so I left and began walking up the road and waited for Joe where his path meets the road again.

We hiked up this road for almost a half hour when we came to a decision. The road forked, and we could either go the more level road to the left, or curve on a steep road to the right. We figured that the harder path was the one that would get us up the mountain to the main staircase, so we started hiking up the road to our right. Hours passed and we saw no other people. The road winded back and forth up the side of the mountain, and we were pretty sure by the lack of busses passing us that we were not on the road that went to where they were taking all the tourists. “To that pagoda, then we will turn back.” Joe said as we realized that we were both getting really tired and the sun was beginning to get rather low in the sky to be this high up on the mountain. The map seemed to say that if we kept heading east that we would hit the main staircase, and the mountain range was in the north, so as long as we kept heading right... we were lost. A group of old women were singing a Chinese song while hiking back down the road, and I wished we had a English- Chinese dictionary. We passed them with some hellos and nods, it was the best we could do.

Then we came to the end of the road at a huge temple with an empty parking lot least for one car parked in back and one motorcycle. Around the temple was this wonderful secluded village that Joe had eyes like a child who just found Santa's workshop. The village seemed deserted, but at the same time it seemed spiritual, as if the women just leaving this village had reinvigorated its human spirit in a way completely separate from the touristy sections of the mountain where the people have the ability to drain the life and dignity out of a location.


“To the pagoda?” We could still see that same little pagoda up on the hill past the village, and we did agree to go to that point before turning back, so we left the road and started heading up a decorated staircase made out of smooth black and white rocks. Up the hill we wound through terraced land for farming, and we could see a little ways up the mountain from us people were still working with plows and wheelbarrows.

The pagoda at the top was extremely energizing, maybe from the fantastic view of everyplace we had passed before, or maybe there was a energy to this spot that caused the pagoda to be built here beyond its vantage point. The floor of the pagoda had the yin yang in the center with the 8 trigrams surrounding it while reaching out to the octagon shaped sides of the pagoda. Joe bowed to the pagoda's energy and asked its permission to enter.

Once Joe finished his Bagua form we agreed that it was time to hike our way back down the mountain. When we made it back to the parking lot we started waking down the road with this older woman who we attempted to ask her where the hell we were. We got out the map and asked her if she could point to where we were, but she seemed to say that where we were was not on the map. She tried to show us the general area, but she wasn't quite sure herself. Then she wrote down for us the name of the place we just visited, and we searched the map for those same symbols, but they weren't there.

On the way down from the road when we started taking the small paths again we ended up taking different stairs down, and because of this we finally found where you could see the waterfall from before straight on.


And we found a new pagoda made entirely out of unaltered branches.


And then we made it back to the park at the base of this side of Mt. Tai (aka, Taishan).


Walking back down the city road we looked for a place to sit down, get warm, and eat something. I wasn't a fan of going to fancy sit down restaurant, and told Joe that some food at the restaurant by our hotel where we know they have pictures would be fine. But Joe was insistent that he needed some meat after that hike, and they didn't have any pictures of meat. They probably had some on the menu, but since their menu was in Chinese, all we had to work with were the 8 or 9 pictures of food they had above the kitchen.

As with any good 24 year old male, he found a restaurant with a huge neon sign that blinked in different colors, and he was set. I thought the place was closed, but they called us in and sat us down at a yellow clothed table with yellow clothed chairs with big yellow bowes on the back (this is actually kinda standard for restaurants in China). The one waiter knew a little English, so we asked for something with chicken and some tea. “Taishan Chicken?” Why not? We just hiked Taishan, how much more festive could we get? A few minutes later the tea came out, and then about 10 min. later he came out with a huge plate with an entire chicken (possibly from Mt. Tai) chopped up on it. Every piece of chicken had some sort of protruding bone with skin wrapped around it. I tried to eat around the bones, but they weren't like American chicken where its mostly meat with some bone. This was mostly bone with some meat, and I was kinda not excited about it. I would have been even less excited about it if Joe had told me what he was hiding over on his plate (beak and feet). In China every dish you order is just that. Comparison: you order a hamburger and all you get is a circle of meat. You have to order the bun, veggies, and fries separately. So Joe tried to order some noodles to go with all of our Chicken. He was doing the charades of making a long string between his fingers and then slurping it up... which eventually worked “Ahhh, New-da-la!” the waiter said.


After dinner we took the bus back to our hotel and we looked around the basement mall next to the bank near our hotel for maybe some gloves or a cheap coat (no luck, should have learned more Chinese). But we did find a supermarket where we stocked up on some snacks. So on that note, I will leave you with the Chinglish of the day:

(on the package for instant coffee)

It will captivate with relish.

Posted by - Rain 09:09

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Wow--some of these photos are utterly beautiful. I'd love to frame them, so I hope they're in the "More pictures" section. The two I especially like come in between the Black Dragon Pool sign and the pagoda made of unaltered branches. The two of the pool below the mountain look like serene Asian landscape paintings.

Also, keep the videos and Chinglish-of-the-day coming!

by Sheryl S

Love the pictures-glad you are seeing some beautiful China! As for your last thought- Engrish.com, if you can't get to the site, it is filled with all those wonderful 'chinglish' sayings.

by BritterBee

This is one of my favorite videos (the theme music one) even though you guys aren't in it! When I was little, there was a cartoon in the newspaper that said "what is wrong with life is that there is no background music." I agree!

by georgi r

I was showing this to Grandma and she LOVES the pictures. She would say "whoo whoo look at that bridge and that waterfall, gee-mon-nee isn't that beautiful, what a trip, what a trip!" She loves Vanessa's picture on the bridge- she said "oh look there's my favorite again!" when I would scroll back to it

by BritterBee

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