We decided to cap off our month of kung fu training by climbing Mount Tai. Mount Tai is the tallest of China’s Five Great Mountains, and often regarded as the most sacred. As such, it is also the most climbed mountain in China. This is pretty impressive since climbing the mountain is no easy feat, as it’s over 7000 steps to the top. The steps are not very even in height or width, which makes the hike a bit murderous on the legs.
Legend has it that if you make it to the summit you will live to be 100, and many emperors have made the climb, which is why it is such a popular activity. Popular among locals, that is. There were like a million people on the mountain but only 6 westerners, including Chris.
We started the climb at about 9am, and it took us about 5 hours. This included stops at various temples and important looking gates along the way, taking photos of the many calligraphic carvings on the rocks, a few popsicle and candy breaks, and also a thunderstorm in the middle which forced us to take cover for a bit. Fortunately the top is actually above the clouds so it was nice and sunny up there.
The views were nice, though the mountain was pretty crowded the whole way. At the top Chris declared that this was the last mountain he was ever going to climb, for the rest of his life. But we’ll see about that.
Annoyingly, the thunderstorm had shut down the cable car, which was originally how we were planning on getting down, so we ended up walking instead. After the slog up Chris felt like a superhero as he flew down the steps. Still, the uneven steps were pretty strenuous on the knees, so when we got to the halfway point we took the bus back into Tai’an.
Back in Tai’an we celebrated by hitting up Pizza Hut for some cheese for the first time in a month. It was pretty exciting, though not quite as good as home I think. Then, it was time to pack up and head to Beijing!