12.06.2009 - 14.06.2009
On 12 June 09, two Chinese students, Alice and Lydia, suggested that I visit Thousand Buddha Mountain, Qiān Fó Shān, southeast of the city of Jinan, which is a local attraction. As we got off at our stop, we started to walk up the street, both sides of the sidewalk, leading up the mountain and before the admission gate, there were people sitting cross legged in front of a spiritual pictured mat and burning incense.
"They are here to tell you your fortune," Lydia explained, then asked me if I would be interested in knowing my 'future news' ... I laughed and told her, "No, I've already made my future my present."
We entered and immediately saw all types of buddha from each side of the cemented path. Lydia would name the deity and explain its purpose, which most dealt with the want of prosperity, wealth... and procreation (I hastily made my dash away from that temple). I told Alice and Lydia, if upon I wanted wealth, that would be for my health and that I continue enjoying my life as I am now. My philosophy in earning money is to pay my bills and pay for my next holiday (vacation). One cannot enjoy use of money when sick... I prefer being healthy.
I taken photos of statues I thought as most amusing, however, I did take unique shots whilst inside the actual mountain itself... note images posted.
My teen tour guides were very good and quite fun, they amused me when they were trying to decide where we were going... Alice and Lydia was confused as I in what sense of direction.
Weekend of 13-14 June, James and I went to north of the city of Tai'an, in Shandong Province, to climb the most famous Tai Mountain (Tài Shān). We left that Saturday morning and arrived in Dong Yue, James suggested that he do most of the 'talking' since I am 'foreigner' and wanted to ensure that the locals to do take advantage of pricing, both in taxi and hotel.
James said that his parents told him possible cost of hotel of 800RMB, but female taxi driver drove us to government funded hotel and offered discount to students and foreign teachers. We were in luck, we each only had to pay 100RMB for a shared room, and most locals, visitors and tourists visit Dong Yue to climb Tai Mountain to see the sunrise... which meant that we had to climb VERY early in morning.
Before we decided to rest, we visited the local temple park, Dai Temple, in stretching our legs, and take photos (also see photos posted). We then taken a nap to rest from bus ride, reawaken to shop for snacks to eat for mountain climb Saturday. We went to 'shopping mall' - not what Americans would consider as such - and we purchased snacks and ready-to-eat dinner, well, at least I did.
James was too pleased in seeing a KFC and wanted his meal there. He purchased two sandwiches, fries, and a drink...now keep in mind, we were eating items from the grocery store as well. I simply watched James as he ate his additional meal, and praised how he LOVES KFC. I only shook my head whilst snickering, then said, "Aren't you on a diet?"
"Yes, but we climb mountain tomorrow," James answered, "I will lose in morning." He also raved how he can eat KFC every day, personally, I could not resist laughing at his fond discovery of American Junk Food. He then offered this odd looking root what he called 'tropical fruit' ... it, exactly that - an IT, smelled bad ... no joke, and I hesitated in trying, although I am known to try almost anything new ... including food.
I watched James in amusement as he taken a forkful into his mouth and "Mmmmm, this is good" smile beamed on his lips. He offered tray to me, "You'll like, trust me." I made a face as I sliced a small portion of this 'tropical fruit' ... truly, I was just waiting for an alien to leap out somewhere after I seen the large brown seed inside. I finally put into my mouth, the texture was smooth, almost like firmed custard and had a rather pleasant taste. Not bad! Nevertheless, the shape and look of this metaphorical 'tropical fruit' looks like a blob or other, but if you close your eyes and taste, your tongue will tell you otherwise.
Before my wake up alarm for 1230am, I was rudely awaken by the on/off flickering of the bathroom light, this ghostly event continued for an hour till the moment we had to wake up and prepare to leave to catch bus for climb. At that moment, the lights switched off whilst I was ready for a shower... oh, joy... seems our entire morning was quite interesting, but we got to the starting point and the half moon was a guide.
In a nutshell, what a climb and I certainly do mean CLIMB! James was considerate but he didn't understand my way of handling a challenge ... I was extremely quiet and maintained rhythmic breathing as steps became steeper. James, such a dear, kept asking if I was ready to rest, I wasn't ready till we reached mid point, in which I did rest... Also, there was massive people that morning wanting to see the sun rise... I have to share in saying, what an experience!