Qian Shan near An Shan
"How to get in without paying..."
I can't remember what came before or what came after. All I can remember is climbing up the side of a mountain in the dark. The other 15 people, all chinese, had gone on ahead and taken the three small torches with them, eager to get to the top to see the sunrise (despite it being cloudy). Eager also, perhaps, to prove what most believed, that foreigners were fat and out of condition.
The chinese bush is much like the australian bush. I could've been in the blue mountains. Cicadas chirped all day and the serrated leaves of the trees were reminiscent of banksias, though they were actually acorns. Mosquitoes clouded around us as the sun briefly peeked through the mist in the shape of a dragon.
We climbed up and down several mountains before the day ended, and now I cannot move! A few other westerners were seen but actively avoided contact with me. Jing's daughter, Elisa, dragged me over to one cleancut young honeymooning fellow but he and his bride determinedly refused to look at me. Just as well, he looked like someone destined for middle management and I would've had little to say to him other than 'where are you from'. Another fat foreigner fellow passed us on his way up his first incline, but I was too busy watching Elisa throw her corncob into the bush and only saw him when Jing pointed him out after he'd passed by.
All along the way ancient temples were hurriedly being built to cash in on the tourist boom. Other already built temples were arranged conveniently along the roadway so tourists could stop and buy the souveniers. It was all laid out too conveniently, I thought. Perhaps all of China's heritage is recently reconstructed, and Jing confirmed that when she was here last all these temples didn't exist. Perhaps the originals were all torn down by the Red Guards back in the 1960's and now they have to rebuild everything from scratch to cash in on tourism, and keep alive the myth of china being the world's longest lasting civilisation.