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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Upwards Tai Shan, China, Saturday, 04 September 2010 2:29am

I'm at the summit of Mt Tai (Tai Shan) in a surprisingly nice hotel. I'd even have Internet access if I'd brought my laptop, but I left it at the Left Luggage counter at the train station. The iPad doesn't have a plug for the Broadband Access Hole in my room.

This hotel isn't the only surprisingly developed part of the mountain. The guidebook mentioned that there would be no problem getting food along the path, but I had no inkling of the scope of what's here. The path itself is stone stairs the whole way. There are little restaurants, souvenir shops, and people with coolers selling drinks around half of the bends in the path. The other half are occupied by temples, inscriptions on the rock, and historical markers calling out which trees sheltered which emperors from the rain.

Amazingly, I had almost no rain fall on me here. It was overcast the whole day (perhaps for the best, considering all of the climbing), but it barely sprinkled. One of the things I'd hoped I'd see in China was the mountains in the mist, like in all of the scroll paintings. I think I get to check that box off. Unfortunately, that probably means I won't get much of a sunrise tomorrow.

Actually getting here added to my set of authentic China experiences as well. I finally took the subway at rush hour and was part of a crowd so thick that it would have been impossible to fall over. My train (a fancy new express train leaving from a sparkling new station that was more like an airport than any other train station I've been to) had the wrong type of cars, so we used the bottom bunk of a sleeper car as a bench. And then there was the rickshaw driver...

I was supposed to take Bus 3 from the train station to the entrance to Tai Shan, but couldn't find it. There were plenty of Bus 11s and some Bus 18s, but no 3s. Eventually I got tired of waiting and accepted a ride from a rickety four-seater moto-rickshaw. I suspect it had a problem with its clutch, because the driver never let it stop. Traffic backed up at a red light? No problem, just drive on the other side of the road. Red light telling us to stop? It's fine if you just weave through the traffic! Pedestrians? Bicyclists? They can navigate around us as we cross their path! Some of the traffic seemed annoyed, but none of it seemed surprised.

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