Friday, May 11, 2012

Yuelu Mountain and Ping Pong

Yesterday, I had a chance to finally climb Yuele Mountain.  It's pretty visible from anywhere near Hunan Normal University and it was just calling to me.  Like Mount Lycabettas (which I climbed in Athens, Greece), it too has a chair lift to the top.  And, just like Athens, I refused to take the chair up the first time.  It seems like cheating to me.  Anyway, it was only 75 degrees with 85% humidity, so I decided to take advantage of the cool weather.  Even still, I was drenched when I was done.  It took me one hour to get to the top and I was passing many Chinese people, so I think my pace was good.  The scenery was breathtaking and the sweaty waiguoren was getting a great deal of attention.  It was almost like they were thinking "Hey, this is our special trail.  What's he doing here?"  

During the hike and my time here in Changsha, I've noticed that the eye behavior of the Chinese is really interesting and it varies greatly between people.  Some will follow you with their eyes from 20 feet away and then even turn around and look at you after you've passed.  Others will look at you kind of peripherally or perhaps not at all. I guess it's not much different from the U.S. except I don't think we stare this blatantly.  Or maybe we do, but I never noticed it because I haven't been a minority until now.  

Apart from the beautiful scenery, there were a few other fun things to do on the mountain.  First, they have this chute that I haven't been able to ride on yet, but you sit on these metal sleds and slide down part of the mountain.  That one is definitely going on my to do list.  There is also a swimming pool up at the top and an old Taoist temple.  I planned on riding the chair lift down to the city, which is supposed to offer the best views, but the lift was closed when I got to the top.  Maybe next time.  As I hiked the trail, I kept thinking about Stacie because everywhere you look there are little side paths that you can explore.  Stacie always loves to get off the beaten path and I know she would really enjoy exploring this mountain with the kids since it is right next to campus where we will be.  

That night, after I had taken my second shower of the day (and not my last interestingly enough), I was invited by Chance and Brenna, the other American in the building (a kid also named Kevin from Cleveland), and two of their Chinese friends to go play ping pong near Hunan University (one of the other big universities in the city).  However, they were already over there and I was still at Hunan Normal.  They wanted me to take a cab into the city by myself, so their Chinese friend texted me the address of the pool/ping pong place and I showed it to the cab driver, who seemed to know where he was going.  You can see from the pictures that the ping pong place looks a bit run down.  Many parts of China look this way.  Someone commented on one of my earlier blog posts that they didn't think I should go down that alley where I often go to eat.  It's true that in the U.S., we might think these places look a little "ghetto" and we would be cautious.  However, despite all the people here and the look of some of the buildings, I've never felt safer.  During ping pong, I didn't lose a single game.  Stacie would have told me to let them win a game or two.  But, I disagree.  My national pride was on the line and I know my new Chinese friend felt the same way.  His girlfriend said to him at one point when he way losing, "Hey, this is our sport and you're losing." 

It's amazing what joy a simple soda machine in my building can bring to me. That one on the top right is peanut milk.  I keep meaning to try that.   
Our laundry room.  Washing is not complicated.  I just put my clothes in, add 3 yuan in coins, and it starts right up.  Unfortunately, they have no dryers in this country.  Plus, I've had my clothes hanging in my room to dry for three days and they are still wet from the humidity.  My new trick is to hang them up in front of my air conditioner (works like a charm).

Initial steps to get to the trail.

Map of all the stuff to see on the mountain.

You see this everywhere.  Girls of all ages holding hands as a sign of very close friendship.  You also see people holding the hands of the elderly to assist them.  

Steps that go up to the chair lift.

I liked the look of these buildings.  It's hard to see, though.

From the top of Mount Yuele.  It was a super hazy day from all the rain during the last couple of days.  The rain is what really cooled this place down, though.  

Giant TV tower.  Seems like a waste of infrastructure to only broadcast one channel ;)

The closed chair lift.  One of these days....

A saw this woman doing some kind of yoga stretches on this concrete pad.  

Where did he come from?

There is something so right about playing ping pong in China.  He was a super nice kid (23 years old). 

Chinese pool hall.

1 comment:

  1. So beautiful, can't wait to conquer mount Yuele! Way to pound the Chinese dear ;)