The Mien Bao Che had dropped us off half way up a forested mountain in the Chinese "wilderness". Next to us was an old Buddhist monastery which had been spared the horrors of the cultural revolution. With us we had two bottles of water, sun cream and a bag of sweets. We didn’t really know where we were so the plan was to explore, find some more water (we had been promised numerous water fountains by the guide book) and go back into Dengfeng in an hour or two. Neither of us had the strength to climb such a towering mountain.
|Temples in the middle of the forest at the base of the ascent of Mount Song (Song Shan). Near Dengfeng in Henan Province, China|
Looking around, we had two choices, continue up the dusty old mountain road, or ascend a deserted (rare in China) flight of stairs. The concreted stairs looked more civilized than the road so we began climbing, with no idea how far it might lead.
|The endless steps of Song Shan! Imagine having to climb up all of them!|
until eventually we found a brand new toilet complete with squat pot and solar powered television warning visitors not to start forest fires. This was forest fire season. It hadn’t rained in months and it was over 30 degrees c. We were starting to wonder were the water fountains were, we had been climbing for over an hour and our water was almost gone, but some locals we met insisted there was a fountain just a little higher.
|The lush forests of Dengfeng with it's Mountains in the Background|
So we climbed....
.......and climbed until we could climb no more.
The mountain was now seeming endless, and although the views were spectacular and other worldly. The fantastic colours,jagged peaks and vast horizons were no cure for our fatigue.
|A rare picture of me about halfway up Mount Song in Dengfeng. It looks far to beautiful to be in China doesn't it?|
We asked yet another climber, "were are these water fountains",
he replied, "Not here, there’s been no rain, no rain, no water",
The only reason we had climbed so high was in some desperate attempt to get water. We were both exasperated and dehydrated. We decided to have a rest in the shade and go back down, all the way to Dengfeng. Going downhill is always a lot easier right?
|The majestic views from Mount Song in Dengfeng, China|
The other climbers overheard us and warned us against it. "You wont find any water down that way, you'll come down on the wrong side of the mountain. Besides, there's a shop at the summit, they sell water, your already 2/3 the way up!" he exclaimed!
Deflated by his comments, my girlfriend and I got up and started marching, one step at a time up the mountain. Going up the endless flight of stairs became a game of mental endurance. Conversation stopped as all energy was now reserved for climbing. As we went on, my girlfriend started going faster than me. I was slowing down, I couldn’t help it, I was nearing the point of collapse. Just then, I was overtaken by a frail old woman, rejuvenated by loss of face I soldiered on!
|The City of Dengfeng, China, as viewed from Mount Song, home of the Shaolin Temple, but we didn't go there.|
As we reached the top the forest petered out and became bare windswept rocks covered by occasional grassland. Ahead was a Taoist temple, with colourful and extensive decorations. I had been warned that I couldn’t take any photos of the Buddha statues, it was offensive to the worshippers. We snuck inside and to our surprise there was a cooler with drinks for sale, water, soda and beer. We bought 6 bottles of water for 4 yuan each (at the bottom of the mountain they cost just 1RMB). Our prayers had been answered!Feeling hungry, I asked how much the food underneath the Buddha cost, the woman selling the water said It was an offering for the dead. Oooops!
|The Temple at the top of the Song Shan Mountain. Well almost at the top.|
We eventually reached the top. In fact, I'm too tired to type, I'm sure you know what happened, we got to the top, took a few pictures, went down the steps, took another mien bao che back to Dengfeng and a coach back to Zhengzhou where I resumed my boring life as a ESL teacher at the New Dynamic Institute, hoping that one day I could leave Zhengzhou again!
(Thank you for reading this long boring story. If you diddn't already guess, its moral is to always pack more water than you need, and don't listen to Chinese locals as they will ofter pretend to know what they're talking about to save face!)
Here's some more pictures of Song Shan as a treat for all you lovely people!
|Water Bottles in hand, here's a Picture of me clinging for dear life at the top of Song Shan|
|More Beautiful Dengfeng Mountains, Much nicer than Zhengzhou just 50 miles away!|
|Me falling over backwards up mount Song, notice the union flag socks! What a good patriot I am!|
|My Beautiful Girlfriend Coco, another foreigner teaching English in China|
What an unorganized post this has been. I hope you forgive me and visit my wonderful travel blog again!