Today is 国庆节, or National Day, in China. It is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China! You might have heard about it; it was kind of a big deal. I slightly regretted not getting to see it, but was comforted by looking at some pictures.
We slept in til 10 and then set off for YanMingShan, on the way grabbing a donut from the conveniently located Mr. Donuts by the metro station :)
We transferred to a bus that took us partway up the mountain, and started walking from there; a man at the information center told us the peak was about an hour away.
It wasn’t too bad at first. The peak was 2.27km away and they posted signs every 0.2km, which passed relatively quickly at the bottom of the mountain where stairs were intermixed with walkways. Eventually, though, the route consisted exclusively of stairs and it took a long time to travel 200m of horizontal distance. There were times when I thought 0.2km was the longest measurement known to mankind.
At the 1km mark, there was a choice to go to the peak or the springs . . . I got outvoted because Diederik said it was going to be flatter from then on, and we continued to the peak. For the record, Deiderik is a horrible liar. He also said there was going to be a great view from the top, when it was clear that the only thing that lay beyond the trees was an infinite expanse of gray. Instead of becoming flatter, the steps became larger (some as tall as my knees) and more uneven. It also started raining. Of course . . .
There were many times along this climb that I looked at the guys ahead and didn’t think I could make it to where they were, much less beyond that to the peak.
Invariably at these times, older Chinese people would pass us on their way down with smiles and encouraging words: 加油! (jia you, which literally means “add oil”).
Long story short, we made it to the top – all of us. The view was incredibly anticlimactic – the purest gray I’ve ever seen.
Another of Diederik’s bright ideas was to bring food with us so we could enjoy a picnic on the top. The guys made a valiant effort to do so . . .
The route to the springs from the peak inconveniently routed us through the second peak (more gray). From there, we went down a jillion stairs that left my heart racing about the possibility of slipping and my legs shaking for pure exhaustion.
At this point, the hot springs were exactly what I was looking for. The men and women were separated, but I didn’t understand why until I went inside and saw naked old women inside, and not in the process of changing. They told us our bathing suits were 不行 (unacceptable), and so for the second time today I did something I thought I couldn’t do: bathe nude with other people. It was surprisingly comfortable and absolutely, 100% worth it. The 40ºC (110ºF) water felt amazing and seeped all the tiredness and pain out of my legs.
When the guys came out of their area, they bore news of a second typhoon. Awesome . . .
We caught a bus back to Taibei, where I went to the HuaXi Night Market with Carlos and Keiko. Dinner was rice with meat cooked in soy sauce and an egg boiled in soy sauce, a peanut pancake thing, fresh fruit juice, and a ridiculous ice cream cone.