Saturday, May 26, 2012

Yonchuan Local

This weekend started off well on Friday night with a trip to the gym with fellow foreigners Tyler and Fimo followed up by a food crawl around Yongchuan and Fimo's birthday cheesecake to finish.
Saturday morning was a slow start, but we came to the decision that it was too nice outside not to do something. One of my Google Earth researched routes which we hadn't yet done was the full length of Tea Mountain ridge. The roads were either vague or non-existent on the map, but I dropped some waypoints on likely looking things from the aerial photos on Google Earth and copied them onto the GPS. The slog up the dirt road to the ridge  was strenuous as usual and slippery from overnight rain, but saved us paying the entrance fee to the park. Living in China does seem to breed thriftiness. We followed the paved road, past the apparently never-used "Jade Corridor" tourist path, complete with never-used teahouse and scenic spots. There were frequent inspirational signs to keep us entertained though, including "Leave behind a clean environment, take away happiness". For once a Chinese translation that actually seemed meaningful. The path came to an abrupt stop rather short of the point at the end of the ridge I was hoping for, so we backtracked to the last intersection. On the way we met a huge group of Chinese hikers wearing suits and carrying umbrellas who we didn't pass on the way out. I've no idea where they came from. We elected to take a look along our other option: a dirt road which promised to lead along the ridge. Pushed on by the sense if adventure, were soon splashing and slithering out way in the right direction. The ridge as punctuated by derelict and burned out old factories, with occasional farmers to seemed to have adopted the land. It was all slightly spooky and the feeling of being in a place unseen by foreigners was upon us. We get that feeling quite often in the YC countryside. Eventually the road started snaking its way down through the bamboo towards the paved roads in the valley below. We appeared from the woods onto a brand new concrete road which led us through villages and sprouting rice fields back towards YC. It's taken us all year to figure it out, but I feel we have now truly conquered both of Yongchuan's "famous mountains" both vertically and horizontally by a combination of bikes, hikes, and trial and error. Who would have known life contained such peculiar kinds of fun.

Today is a different kind of adventure in YC as we've visited our usual street market for vegetables and had our hair cut by the local pompadour-wearing Chinese fashionistas. I don't think I've ever had so much hairspray applied to my head, or been quite so bouffant... but I do have shorter hair, which is a relief.