Saturday, September 10, 2011

Curved Nasty

At the conclusion of our first full week teaching in Yongchuan I was ready to escape my shortcomings as a teacher and do something that didn't involve speaking very slowly or wondering how to make my lessons less boring. So we made our second summit attempt on the mighty edifice that is "Tea Mountain" to the north of town. Last weekend we were turned back by the long arm of the law who had closed the road for some reason. As we approached the turn for Tea Mountain, the "road closed" sign was in the ditch and no law enforcement was to be seen, so up we went. After a few minutes we found a sign that we were on the correct route for some renowned tourist sites.

There was also the beginnings of the tea hedges (is that the right word?) that the "mountain" is famous for. With the mist hanging heavy on the hillside we took a sniff along the "Tea fragrance terrace". Fragrant it was... and very nice when we're more used to the more robust smells of the town below.

We continued on up the road towards our objective. Coming the other way we saw four unexpected things... other people riding bikes for fun (!). The Tea Mountain road seems to be the local recreational cycling hot spot. As we reached the ridge line, our greatest challenge awaited us... the Tourist Welcoming Center. It turns out there is a fee to ride the rest of the road along the ridge, though with some help from a very nice English-speaking Tea Mountain visitor, we learned that we could sleep in a farmer's house if we paid our fee and carried on along the ridge through the tea plantations. We decided that this should be our objective for my birthday weekend in a few weeks.

A tourist pointing at a fake concrete rock
Another tourist lurking in some (not fake) tea bushes
Satisfied with our day's research we set off for the descent back into town. Luckily there was some advice on the road conditions ahead...

Sound advice
Lina grappling with a curved nasty
Back at home we headed out for a late lunch armed with our freshly prepared Chinese words for "One bowl of noodles with beef" and "I am a vegetarian, one bowl of noodles". Having successfully managed to order five bottles of beer last night I was feeling ready for a new challenge... plus we were pretty hungry. I'm pleased to say that our meal ordering resulted in minimal frustration with the noodle lady (who laughed at us) and the food we wanted appearing. Success!

GPS geekery of our trip up "Tea Mountain"