Sunday, January 8, 2012

The light at the end of the tunnel

With only a few more classes to teach and some exams to mark... the end of our first semester of teaching in China is nearly over. It's been a strenuous journey, and appropriately we found ourselves on a strenuous journey of another kind this weekend. 

Wexing Lake runs alongside Cucumber Hill, which has been a good spot for previous bike ride and hikes. At one end of the lake there's a campus of the local university, but we have been curious about what could be at the other end. Google Earth showed a dirt road running all the way along the lake shore, then ending strangely in the middle of nowhere. Yesterday we set out on our bikes to find what really happened on the ground. 

Unsurprisingly we passed by back-to-back farms and the stares of confused locals and their chickens. However, a surprise waited for us at the end of the rutted and muddy road. A temple and local's fishing spot turned out to be the destination.

Wexing Lake's local Buddha

The temple at the end of the road

Saturday afternoon fishing.
Optimistic that we might be able to complete a loop around the lake, we pushed on (sometimes literally) through the mud and made it to a steep switchback climb. The locals were gathered at a restaurant at the start of the climb and enjoyed watching us winch our way up the slippery hill. The ride was turning out to be pretty tough and the damp, chilly weather was not helping our spirits too much. After some perseverance on the intermittently cobbled and then muddy bog of a road we made it back to the top of the ridge and were lucky to catch the end of the "lunchtime rush" at a little eating place we'd been to before. We were grateful that the owner not only recognized who we were (not hard around here) so we didn't have to fumble through explaining we didn't want any fried intestines to eat, but cooked us some tasty lunch before closing up shop.

Our regular eatery on Cucumber Hill
Back at home we've been getting our preparations done for five weeks of travelling in southern China, Vietnam, and Thailand. We leave on the night-train to Kunming on Saturday night and will getting a much needed break from teaching life. Hopefully we'll be able to post a few updates from the road!