International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: China
Doxey in China
is 4.30am, total solar eclipse day Huangshan - China
The residents of the Bei Hai hotel have been shouting and moving
outside for over an hour to jostle with each other to find a good
spot to see the sun rise. Even now, they follow the megaphoned tour
guides. We are living in total cloud, missing the rain by a sliver.
There is nothing to see.
After the sun has
secretly risen, without them seeing it, the majestic mountain peaks
and the pines slowly come into view, the swallows arrive and the wind
rustles a new sound for me in china - the sound of rustling leaves in
wind blown trees. I am in the north sea clouds.
There is no sound of soundlessness here. Always these people are excited
by the new things - being out in the dark at 4am, using a torch, something
in the clouds that cannot be seen.
The very best thing here is that it is all outside. As much outside
as you can take.
Im sitting on the fire escape with a green tea and a borrowed
coat just listening for the sound of silence.
To get here is a doddle, just catch an overnight train, a taxi, a group
coach, a crazy shuttle bus, pay at the gate and walk up thousands of
steps, check in, make tea and wait.
22 July 2009
We have all just witnessed the most amazing sight and experience
on the top of this mountain. Thick rolling clouds and grey skies
meant that the eclipse was veiled at times but during the 2 hours
it took to cover and uncover the sun the whole area became animated
with the most amazing atmosphere. To be honest, it was like the
most important football match in the UK, one that only happens once
in a life time.
Every time there
was a break in the clouds and the sun and moon became visible everyone
cheered and shouted like their team was scoring a goal and each time,
before it all came into view, there was a lot of shouting - its
coming, lai le lai le
And, moments before the total eclipse there was the strangest light
that I cant explain and have never seen before, almost seeing
but not quite. Amazing. I sat with Chinese Len who is the calligrapher
in the hotel. It so was Len but Chinese. He gave me his welding glass
and I gave my eclipse glasses to a little boy who was using 35mm camera
film to look through - not good.
The moment of total darkness was very moving. Everything stopped everyone
became silent - even the swirling birds and then, we saw it, the corona.
So exciting. Everyone jumping and shouting. - so glad I witnessed the
whole experience on the top of a mountain.
Walk down day. After some negotiation, it was agreed that we would take
the west steps down. The west side of the mountain is much longer than
the east and with the addition of the Celestial Peak, which I had whined
about wanting to see, it's a long haul.
So we set off in variable weather with threatened thunder storms. The
first step was to climb high again to the meteorological weather station
site so that we could climb down the other side towards Jade Screen
Mountain and then up again to the Celestial Peak or Carps backbone.
Im not good with heights and after 2 hours of normal walking up
and down, we were faced with the steps to the celestial peak.
Even I could see they were sheer and daunting and that 90% of the people
on the mountain veered south and ignored the whole carps backbone
experience. Not to be outdone now, we climbed the thousands of steps
to the top, at the top, I faced the scariest sliver of a rib cage walk
across the top of the pin head of the mountain with totally sheer drops
on either side of nearly 2,000 mtrs.
At that point with the wind howling over the top and cloud swirling
around like smoke, I couldnt look anywhere but the space in front
of my feet and feel my way over the ridge. The walk down was sheer,
howling wind swept and wet with some low rope on the side or the odd
hand hole. This was my biggest achievement and much scarier than any
mountain Ive been on before just because Im scared of great
heights and there was very little to hold onto. But I did it and bought
the medal to prove it. Getting down is not a doddle and, Dave, compared
to the walk to Everest base camp, it's on par but different.
And, Mir and Jane, no, I would not do it again for 500 but it was one
of the best mountain experiences Ive had because it pushed me.
please see http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/TraceyDoxey/
for more info and pictures
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