Thursday, December 24, 2009

Huang Shan Christmas

About a week before Christmas our FOA emailed us to ask if anyone was interested in going on a trip to Huang Shan mountain on Christmas eve! Most of the foreign teachers don't have a family group like we do so most of them said yes! We thought Christmas in China was going to be different enough so why not add a trip to the mix!
We left our apartment at 7:30 and climbed into an over sized minivan and were on our way! Two guys from Seattle, one from France, a woman from Brazil, an Aussie, four people from our foreign affairs office, a driver named Mr. Wong, and a tour guide that only spoke Chinese completed the group. This was my first road trip in China so I didn't know what to expect but I learned a lot! First off...apparently a trip is not a trip without a microphone. picture this: sitting right in front of a tour guide talking Chinese into a microphone, did I mention we were in a minivan?! The second thing I learned is that China has rest stops just like America! Except instead of westies (real toilets) there were stalls after stalls of squatties (holes in the ground) And the third thing I learned was not to ask what you're eating! Our first lunch I asked the brazillian woman sitting next to me "what's in the bowl of soup?" She responded with "Oh, I don't know, some dead animal" mmm dead animal, who doesn't want to hear that as they're scooping out their soup?!
After about four and a half hours of driving we came to the foot of the mountain! We saw a lot of China on the way there and I found myself glued to the window trying to see all that I could of this very interesting country!
At the foot of the mountain we started climbing stairs, our tour guide said the hotel was on top of the mountain so we started climbing! After a short while we arrived at the cable car barn and jumped on a gondola heading to the top (so I thought). The higher we glided the more our sight was consumed with clouds. When we got out of the cable car we were in the clouds and couldn't see a thing! I knew this was off season but it was disheartening being in such a beautiful place and seeing nothing of it. Our Waiban translated to us that the tour guide said "ok, only 6 KM to the hotel" SIX KILOMETERS?! UP STAIRS!? I thought...we started climbing and honestly it was probably one of the most strenuous things I've ever done...we climbed steps carrying our backpacks for five and a half hours! After a few hours of being in the cold clouds our hair got wet and started to freeze and by the time we got to the top we were frozen, wet, and exhausted. My legs wouldn't stop trembling all through dinner and we ate enormously because we were so hungry. After dinner Kyle and I said peace out to the group, came back to the hotel room and watched Christmas Vacation, a tradition his family practices every year.

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