Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day 3 recap on the mountain: The 39 Steps (part 1)

Tired of Hubei? Then this is just the post not for you!

I promised in my last post about Hubei that There Would Be Blood, and I am happy to say that I was not lying: I got a blister on my heel while climbing 武当山, and There Was Some Blood. But that was the only Blood That There Was on the trip, so the rest of this post will be totally bloodless. It's a Glorious Blog indeed!

This is going to be a long one, so I say it's high time I try one of those "Read More" links that everyone (i.e. Jason) is so crazy about.

So, as I mentioned, Gus and I got to Mt. Wudang too late in the day to climb all the way to the "Golden Summit", so we contented ourselves with visiting some temples on the Southern Ridge, fairly close to our hotel. Here is a picture of one of those temples:

You may be wondering why I didn't get a picture of the whole temple or at least try to get a picture that was straight. The answer is that I wanted to convey the dizzying incomprehensibility of the temple, and also because I slipped while taking this picture.

Also you can't see it, but do you know what was inside? A GIANT TURTLE. A space turtle. Turtle space. Friend space turtle. I hope Gus has pictures of this, because it was actually sort of shocking to see a turtle rather, than say, a guy. (Mt. Wudang is a Taoist mountain, so I'm actually not sure who sits inside their temples, but presumably it is a guy and not a turtle.)

Trees along the path were festooned (I don't think I've ever used that word before in my life) with red ribbons which fellow tourists had tied on as offerings of some kind:

This picture is a little blurry because it was dark and my tripod was Just Try To Hold Your Camera Really Still brand, but you get the idea. I'd also like to call your attention to the man on the right. I've blown him up a little bit so you can see better. (Let's get some tennis-playing mimes out here!)

Note that he has his shirt rolled up so it shows as much skin as possible, as though he were a teenage girl mad at her mother for making her wear a tankini. This illustrates an little-remarked upon difference between our two countries: in America, this is inappropriate behavior for a grown man in public, and in China, it is the opposite of that. A staggering number of men ("staggering" because it is not zero) in China roll their shirts up to stay cool in the heat and humidity. I do not know who first told Chinese men that this was a good idea, but that person deserves to be forced to watch Clockwork Orange-style compilations of jiggly Chinese stomachs for the rest of their life. I do not understand this custom at all. It is especially foreign to me because I persist in wearing pants in 90 degree weather, because I don't like people to see my legs.

A ways past this mini temple was the actual Southern Ridge Palace:

If I were you, I'd consider clicking through to the slightly larger version of this picture, because it really was a nice temple. Many of the buildings Wudang Shan are decorated with the blue stone that you can see at the top of this one, so I assume that it's either native to the region or was heavily mined at great expense/slavery. But anything to make Wudang Shan great, right?

Speaking of Wudang Shan, it's got a special message just for you:

You must be feeling pretty great now (just like I am), because an entire mountain has seen what you've accomplished and is very pleased by what it sees. (That's not what the Chinese says, by the way, but I think we both know that you're not really interested in hearing that Chinese isn't as silly as we think it is.) And, buoyed by the mountain's encouragement, Gus and I felt pretty proud of ourselves for climbing the very short distance to the Southern Ridge temple, so we turned around and went back to the hotel. We did spot one more sign:

Guys, stop it, I'm not joking! Seriously, guys! I'm celebrating! Seriously!

And that's the end of Day 3. I promise someday I'll finish this series of posts on Hubei. Heaven forbid that I ever have to describe something that lasts, say, a week, because I think everyone who reads this blog would kill themselves.