Work is bringing me down. I do not enjoy it. To the point that I have let it affect all aspects of my life. No more. I am here because I love this country and feeling depressed is no excuse for stopping to explore it. So after a few lazy months we managed to get back on the road for a weekend. Destination: Wudang shan. One of the sacred mountains of China and the birthplace of Taichi. Wudang shan (mountain) is in Hubei province, near Xiangfan where we had to fly to. This is where the closest airport is about 1-2 hours drive away - allowing for traffic - from the mountain. I thought Xiangfan was going to be a little town in the middle of nowhere but it turns out it is one of the car manufacture centres of China. The road from the airport is lined with car showrooms. Peugeot, Skoda, even Buick are vying for their space. After Shanghai's steaming weather, we felt as though we had travelled forward to late autumn but it turns out it was like that only for one evening. For the remainder of our stay it was cool and crisp but certainly not cold. The feel of nature after months in a city that is a building site with drills screaming away late into the night is an immense joy and relief. Walking around the hills among the temples, even though the trail is very tame and organised gave me a huge sense of freedom. I love the mountains. Even though I was raised near the sea, it is the mountains that really make me feel at peace.
Best of all was the taichi lesson at the crack of dawn on a landing near one of the temples. Taichi is beautiful and serene and despite Chinese popular belief not worthy just for old people. To me, it is moving meditation. If only I could commit to waking early enough when I am back in the city to join the old guys in the park. A difficult task when I only manage to fall out of bed in time to rush to work.
Sometimes it feels that when you have seen a temple you have seen them all. But here the temples are all in an amazing setting, hanging off the cliff or made of gold at the top of the mountain. Here there are fortune tellers one of which seems to be quite famous. It was worth having my fortune told as it turns out I have Buddha's eye somewhere on my right thumb. This is good as hopefully it means that every difficulty I will ever encounter is surmountable. Also it would seem that I may someday be an official's wife (not be an official myself mind you). A fortune teller tells you your fate by several methods: they can look at the lines in your hands, use your date and time of birth and finally look at the shape of your face. When reading me, he seemed only confident when looking at my hands. The time difference (since I was not born in China) and my non-Chinese face threw him a little bit. A big nose means money but since "all foreigners have big noses"........ we skew the reading. I choose to believe that my nose is big enough for me to qualify, even though the scar I have on it means that I can lose it very suddently.
Wudang shan is a Unesco heritage sight but it seems relatively spared from the massive hoards of tourists. The weather at the top of the Golden Temple is known to be erratic but we were lucky to be able to enjoy a crisp, clear view far into the horizon.
Other than the 40 person plane we took to go there and the 4 hour delay coming back, it was a blissfuly successful weekend trip.