Friday, September 29, 2017

I am Mountain Love: Huangshan, the Yellow Mountain

I am Mountain Lover.

I changed my name. My Chinese name was Xiangnon (it sounds similar to Shannon in Chinese and it means fragrant), but I changed it to Shanai. Someone helped me figure out my initial name shortly after I arrived to China and it is a nice name. Unfortunately, I can never remember the right way to say it and I wanted to pick a new one by myself. I picked Shan Ai because of the meaning. Shan means mountain and Ai means love. I love mountains; I am Mountain Lover. It doesn't sound as much like a typical Chinese name as the first (but wait a minute I know Chinese people with some very interesting 'English' names, many of which I have never heard of before), but I like that I can remember it, and I can even write it.


The first 4 letters are the same as my given name, in pinyon, too SHAN. Pinyon is when the Chinese characters are put into latin letters. The only down side is that it sounds a bit like Shanghai.

And did I say I love mountains!

Within the last year I have been to several famous mountains in China; Zhangjiajie, Guilin, Wuyishan, and now Huangshan. And besides these famous ones I regularly try to climb the smaller ones scattered all over my city.

English Names

I only know the English name of most people I meet. Almost all of my students have English names they have been given by their parents to use at school, too. So not only is speaking English new to them, their name is often brand new to them when they enter my classroom. I'm not sure if it is done to make it easier for us foreigners or because they hate how we mispronounce their Chinese names. I have been, until now only called by my English name as well. But this week I met with a new language exchange partner and I want her to call me Shanai.

Weekend Getaway

I hopped on a high speed train, after work on Friday, and spent two nights in Kou Tang village located at the foot of Huangshan, the 'Yellow mountain'. The mountain is named after someone with the family name Huang(yellow). It is famously in many Chinese paintings.

Saturday Morning

It was a 10-15 minute walk from my hostel to the official busses that take all visitors to the mountain entrances. I planned to walk up the Eastern stairs and down the Western, but at the last moment decided to take the cable car up and back. The Eastern stairs were estimated to take me 2-3 hours going up and the Western 4-5 hours. I am happy I opted for the pricey, but time saving, cable cars because I still ended up walking about 7 miles on and around the top of the mountain, without the added climb and descent. Though it was forecasted to rain, it didn't and I had ideal weather. It would be fun to take the stairs up and back in the future, but I think I'd need to stay on the mountain overnight to enjoy any of the actual mountain views if I did that simply for lack of time, not to mention depletion of energy. There are several housing options on the mountain, but they seem to be overly expensive or overly basic. As with most places I visit in China, I'd like to go back, so maybe I will hike up the stairs next time. What I did though, was perfect for this trip!

When I disembarked from the train in Huangshan city, it was 25 degrees fahrenheit cooler than, my city, Xiamen- it was 70 degrees, which was a relief. The weather during my time on the mountain was about the same and the air was clean which was so refreshing.

And those clouds.


Chinese Tourists.

The picture I take.

The ones people take of me. Umm... Thanks, but where are the mountains?

The highest peak is 6000 feet. I'm not sure if I went there. It's big, so I didn't see everything. But, I think I went to the top.

Can't Take the Charm

Sunday morning I took a Didi, which is China's version of Uber, to Hongcun, the village where they filmed, 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', in 2000.

There are several ancient traditional villages in the area. They are suppose to be especially gorgeous in late fall. The village I chose was nearly an hour from my hostel and was really crowded by the time I arrived. There were students of art everywhere, busy at work. The crowds ruined most picture opportunities but they couldn't take away the ancient city's charm.

I liked this village's narrow alleys and charm and I liked the views from the village I stayed in, but I am Mountain LOVE.

Meanwhile in Xiamen

Weekly get-togethers at my house have resumed.

A minute of my beautifully random life.

Xiamen's nightly fountain show.

I have figured out how to have food delivered to my door. Fun and dangerous!

A minute of my beautifully busy classroom.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Summer Explorations

Exploring More of... Nebraska. 

This summer, I enjoyed getting to know my youngest nephew more and regular dates with my older 'Good Life' niece and nephew. 

It feel like I met up with everyone I've ever known, twice in many cases. It's always a rich time going 'home' which can make the withdrawals a little uncomfortable. 

I enjoyed lots of coffees with friends and foods I've missed living in China.  I ate my yearly share of foods like bagels, donuts, and easy access to ice cream.

One of my Midwest summer highlights was road tripping with two of my best friends around Nebraska. 

My sister and I also had a lot of fun conquering a Jack fruit. We had some little helpers.  

Exploring Northern California. 

I also squeezed in a visit to Northern California. I rented a car for the first time and enjoyed the freedom it gave me. It enabled me to stop at Clear Lake and have a wonderful visit with my great aunt as well as spend quality time with my dad.

Back in China.

Now, I've been back in China for 7 weeks. My, how time flies!  I have a lovely new first grade class and I've revisited some of my favorite local haunts despite the heat and humidity.  

Xiamen is beautiful and I am glad I live here, but I am feeling an itch to explore beyond.