I woke up this morning to see that my good friend Duncan Price had posted a video clip on Facebook, with the latest on one of his hot projects, a cave dig in Wigmore Swallet. Duncan's not much of a facebook user, so I figured this must be extra special. And Wigmore is one of Mendip's finest tight wriggly mud infested holes for cavers to go and grovel in! Only I was not able to watch this clip as I am currently behind the Great Wall of China. The Great Firewall that is. Disappointed, I'll have to wait until Vietnam.
Sarah and I have just climbed the Mount Huà Shān near Xi'an in the Shaanxi Province. Mount Hua is a massive grannite peak, one which I can only compare to Half Dome in Yosemite. Is been a holy place attracting pilgrims over the centuries. With sheer faces in all directions, getting to the top was quite an experience. Thankfully the Chinese have carved a number of paths of steps into the granite to assist pilgrims to the top, which makes the place passable for tourists. Just. You'll need a head for heights as the steps are steep and narrow with precipitous drops on each side. In some places they are pretty much vertical. If I was in Italy, I'd have my Via Feratta gear on. But fear not, I took heed of the warning and was more concerned about when a safe was going topple onto my head:
Incidentally, I plugged the signs chinese characters into google; 注意安全 . And I got 'Be careful the safe'. Conclusion ? Chinese sign writers use google. But I guess that depends on if Google is currently inside or outside of the great chinese firewall. It must currently be in. More on our Chinglish encounters in a later blog.
Sarah and I turned with our hiking boots, water and lunch rearing to go. Since the 90's the numbers of pilgrims have declined and tourism has boomed meaning that the Chinese have vastly improved the Mountains accessibility with the installation of a cable car, knocking off the first 1000 meters of the climb. It was at this point that I quickly realised that I am now in the most populous nations on earth. One billion people up a mountain. At least it felt like it. And all in their Sunday best.
Posh Frock and High Heels navigates a near vertical section
On the East Summit
Another spotless street. This time in quaint PingYao.