Monday two of my co-workers took me out to see the Western Mountain, the tallest mountain in the city. They said it was a hike, so being the hiker that I am I showed up in boots and with a backpack…. and they wore their typical snazzy outfits. Not awkward. The mountain started with beautiful city gates and the trail… was not so much a trail as a staircase. My heart was actually pounding as we basically walked up straight up stairs for 30 minutes. It did lead to some beautiful views of the city before it did turn into a path through the woods.
Towards the top there were monuments which I got some bizarre translations of. They were written in old characters which I’m guessing are hard for modern readers to fully decipher. At the top there was a beautiful Buddhist temple. I don’t have any pictures because I was warned that the Buddha does not like his picture taken. I also think someone was trying to tell me that if I had a picture of the Buddha on my phone then I would have to carry the phone above my head because he must always be highest… regardless it was lovely. There were 4 Buddha’s in 4 shrines. It was set in a square and in the courtyard people burned incense, lighted candles and bowed to the Buddha. I have a soft spot for laughing Buddha’s.
There were red silk ribbons (Definitely not real silk) that you could purchase, write your name on, and leave hanging on a tree. Its much like the Tibetan prayer flags, the idea is that the wind will blow through them releasing your prayer, but the red and gold ribbon is more of a Taoist element (I might be wrong about that). They were beautiful, most of them were tied to the roots of a tree that was growing on the edge of a mountain, its roots wrapped around a boulder. I tied a prayer for good health, hoping for 11 more months of well-being.
I’m not Buddhist, but I love the idea of my prayer hanging on the tree with thousands of others. I love visiting places of worship and find that places tend to have a familiar feeling of reverence and devotion attached to them. A place of worship set on top of a mountain is sort of perfection for me and I let my own prayer of gratefulness loose into the wind.
It was all super zen except for people taking pictures of me. Sometimes I try to take a picture of them taking a picture of me but I’m too slow. I’m working on it though.
The girls bought me a prayer for a boyfriend. I decided to keep that as a souvenir.
We ended the day getting Hot Pot again, this one was soup hot pot, which had no chili peppers in it but a rich broth that you could drink. It was again a slow lazy meal that was amazingly delicious. I slowly wandered home full of soup and contentment. Things here have certainly not been perfect and I’ve had some what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here moments but then days like this are reminders of why I am happy to deal with the quirks like china’s apparent disdain of forming a lines and the constant staring.