Sorry I haven’t updated in forever. Lots has been happening. Last weekend 9 classmates and I went to Huangshan. It turned out to be one of the most amazing and spiritual experiences of my life. We took a 14 hours over night train followed by a 4 hour bus ride to get to Tangkao where we entered the park. On the train, Nate made friends with the really cute boy in the compartment next to us. He gave us all poki which was adorable. Alex had his first Ramen which I find to be ridiculous. How do you go 21 years without Ramen? Did he even have a childhood? Brian decided to stay in Tankou because of his foot injury, which turned out to be really good because the hike was intense. We all decided to climb the mountain, which I think everyone was happy about in the end, I know I was! Alex, Catherine, Monica, Jacklyn and I were in the fast group which was such a great group. Alex motivated us up the mountain with his spot leader skills which made me want to push him off the mountain. Catherine was probably my favorite person on the hike with her popsicle breaks and continued exclamations that she was going to die, which we were all feeling. The climb was so ridiculous. They had stairs going up the mountain. We probably climbed 2000 stairs, most of which were just a little too small (darn you tiny asian feet!) and completely vertical. It would have been easier if there were no stairs at all! At least now my calves and booty are out of control rock solid muscle. I’m pretty sure this was the original stair master. The views on the climb were also amazing. The sheer rock faces with cypress tress and springs coming from no where reminded me of a painting. We also ran into very few people which was amazing. It was labor day weekend so we expected it to be packed, but it wasn’t. The people we ran into the most were workers carrying trash down from the mountain and supplies up on bamboo sticks on their backs. It was crazy that they could carry that much without falling off the mountain. I seriously have no idea how they did it. The thing that astonished me was that it was cheaper for the park to hire these people to do this insane physical labor than to use the gondolas at night to take the stuff up and down the mountain. They must be paid very little, which is a shame. When we reached the top, we decided to go to Now-I-Believe peak while waiting for the others to come up. This had more people, but still not too many and it was amazing. You could really tell that this was the basis for Avatar from there. I have seen few places as beautiful and humbling as this, and I have seen a lot of places. We then headed to the hotel area and met up with the rest of the group. In the middle of all of the hotels was a basketball court where Nate and I played a friendly, trash talked filled game of PIG. By the end of the game, more than 100 tourists were around the courts watching, which was hilarious. I unfortunately lost this time, but I can’t wait to kick his butt next time. When we checked into out hotel, all of us were really impressed by how nice the place was and thought we were going to be getting a pretty nice room, then they lead us to it… This guys took us out the back of the hotel to a shack with one room that had 9 beds shoved in it with barely enough room to turn around in. Stanley would have been proud. During the train ride down I taught everyone how to play palace, so we spent the night playing huge games with like 6 people which was really fun and, turns out, everyone is almost as competitive as me, almost. We got up at 5:30am the next morning to catch the early morning clouds which was absolutely breathtaking and then headed down the mountain on the gondola. This is when we saw all of the tourists which was maybe one of the weirder things I have ever seen. Half of the people were in nice clothes and heels while the other half were completely decked out in hiking gear and everyone had really obnoxious walking sticks — mind you none of these people actually climbed the mountain, they all took the gondola, so I wanted to deck most of them. We then headed to Tunxi and checked in to our hotel. On the way there, Catherine displayed her amazing arguing skills when the driver tried to make us pay more money, she is fierce and hilarious. We stayed in a hostel in the ancient town which was really cool. We played some ping pong (which I beat everyone in, duh) and rested. Wandering around Tunxi was really fun, I like it so much more than Beijing. You can still see the community there which has been absorbed into high rises in Beijing. That night, we all matched Avatar together and then the next morning started the 20 hour train ride home. It was really a great trip and I feel a lot closer to much of the group now.
We had midterms last week, which were ok, but made it so I didn’t really do anything that fun during the week. We went to lush on Thursday for imported beer night which was fun. Friday we went to the great wall, which was no different than the last time I went, but there were fewer people. Then we went to an acrobatic show which was awesome aside from maybe the scariest clown I have ever seen.
That’s about it. I miss you all!