October 6th, 1999
I woke up much earlier than I realised – because of the total darkness. I left about 10 am after a bath – they even had lots of bathroom condiments. Walked through town along the river to the Taishan Guesthouse. Why it’s called a guesthouse I don’t know. 3 star and nicer than last night. How much? Dorm? Meiyou – don’t have. Not this time of year! 320 Y. No, I paid 170 Y and the room was even nicer than the East Hotel last night (so I thought on arrival). Walked to town then a bus to Mount Taishan. Got off at the halfway stage of ‘Zhongtianmen’ (gate to heaven?) – cheating a bit already. Then walked the rest of the steps to the summit. The bus cost 23 Y for ½ hour + 50 Y to access the mountain (during peak season – it is reduced from Nov-Feb). The bus journey was very slow, steep and noisy. There were many steps with vendors all along the route but it only took 1 ¼ hr to the top and there the sun was shining! Finished my throwaway camera from Japan – how am I going to get another one of those as I doubt they have throwaways in China. Although they throw litter away all over the mountain. Some views are very nice – some are dirty. Most are overbuilt – even at the summit, or cloudy – today anyway. Could have taken the cable car back down. I think it would have offered some nice views of Sunset but instead I walked. The top stage taking only ½ hr. I thought the bottom stage on the central route would be more picturesque but it got dark quickly and although they have path lighting only about 30% worked. Feeling lonely as I neared the bottom with my imminent return to the hotel, as there was no-one else to talk to and appreciate the scenery together. I also felt a little unfilled as I cheated by taking the bus half way up but I didn’t realise how much shorter the journey was than advertised – maybe I’m just much fitter! I was hungry and wondered how I would eat once I returned to Tai’an then my prayers were answered! Stopped at a lovely kiosk near the base of the shan and ate Jiazo (gozu) with friendly Chinese Vendors who had prepared their own meal. Suddenly felt fulfilled. They were watching a huge military parade on their t.v and I was told it was in Beijing. Of what, I would later find out the National Day Celebrations of OCT 1st. The return took 1 hr to the bottom including 20+ mins for the meal. Got back to the hotel and the neighbours were very noisy. The tv was loud, with talking over the top of the noise and their doorbell (yes even the rooms had bells) was constantly being rung. I couldn’t sleep at all but became lost in my own world and transfixed with the novel my Robert Ludlum ‘Bourne Ultimatum’ I was reading instead. Eventually got so pissed off around midnight and complained. It worked. But then builders who started delivering materials and banging outside yet again disturbed my sleep. SHUT UP!