This week at Where’s my backpack?, the travel theme is about all things high and mighty! I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with height – perhaps because I’m so lacking in it myself! My whole life I have been referred to has “travel-sized”, petite, magical midget, etc etc. Not that I mind overmuch – my height is what it is and it’s not a terrible thing. After all, there are stepstools, ladders, and kind taller people to help you fetch items from higher shelves. And, as my tall female friends point out with a sigh, I can wear high heels without towering over my significant other!
In any case, maybe perhaps due to my shortness, I’ve always been interested in getting to the top of things – and then looking down at the surrounding area. It’s no secret to any traveler that the best views are usually atop a mountain, or at the observation deck of tall building. Earlier this year, I took a trip with my husband back to his hometown in China and we visited the city of Tai’An, which is famous for Mount Tai, a mountain where the emperors would pay homage to heaven. It’s a tiring but doable hike, even for someone mildly sedentary like me. We did cheat however, we took a bus halfway up the mountain and then hiked up the stairs for another 3-4 hours I think… in any case, it was totally worth it! As you ascend the mountain, there are numerous stone tablets with poetry and calligraphy, some of them in such far off places on the mountain that I had to wonder, how did they carve that there?! There is also supposed to be a waterfall or a brook running down the mountain, but apparently due to lack of rain it was dried up, disappointing! At the pinnacle of the mountain there is a small touristy area with food stands, restrooms, small shops, etc – and all of these shops are supplied by porters who carry items up and down the mountain! By foot! Now that, my friends, is hardcore.
There are several rest stops on the way up, and at one of them tables are laid out and a small convenience store sells overpriced bottles of Red Bull – because Red Bull gives you wings to fly up Mount Tai! The tables were littered with empty cans of Red Bull… probably because there was no recycling/waste can nearby. Ahh, China.
Just another long stairway up the mountain. Many hikers bring or buy walking sticks to help them up – we bought them and they’re actually pretty cool souvenirs as well!
We’re almost at the top… almost! Looking down at the stairway, it’s amazing to see how far we came. The stairs stretch back… and back… and back…
Here we are at the top! Even here there are several temples and shrines to explore at various peaks. It really is quite amazing. Another wonderful thing about being so high up in the mountains is that the air is brisk and clean – noticeably different from the air of Tai’an city itself. Even so, it is a bit hazy – but I think it makes it look rather mysterious!
Another tourist admiring the view. It really gave us a huge sense of accomplishment to be able to get all the way to the top! Now the only problem was getting down… thankfully they do have a cable car to runs to the midway point 🙂