05.05.2012 30 °C
Today is the 4th of May. It is overcastted, but warm. The air is humid, the birds are whisteling, and life is actually quite good.
A week ago we had four days off, because of labour day on the 1st of May. A friend of ours was coming over from Beijing, and together we headed off to Funghuang that very same day. We slept on a hard sleeper in the train, which surprisingly was very comfortable. Early in the morning we woke up surrounded by mountains. The train was winding down the hill, and there, at the horizon, a city was appearing. We arrived just after sunrise in a wet landscape, with a light rain falling down on our shoulders. We had to take the bus for another hour, and finally, there it was - the romantic, ancient place of Hunan. Funghuang is said to be one of the most beautiful places in China, and is therefore very touristic. To our surprise there were mostly Chinese tourists. The result was that we once again became celebrities, and at least a hundred pictures with strangers where taken during those three days.
We got a hostel for a night near the river, and had a great view over the old wooden houses with typical Chinese roofs. At 1 pm we went to get some food, with a rumbling stomach. Suddenly an enormous shower turned our clothes from dry to wet. We ran into the nearest restaurant, had some typical Chinese food (not my favourite, but it was ok), and waited until the dark clouds had drifted away again.
We took a walk along the river side, followed by a visit at an Café, two rounds of cappuccino and card games. Later in the afternoon we decided to go for a boat ride on the river. We got a quite good bargain. Two locals came with us to stir the boat when it strayed off from its path. One of our locals was a jolly man, and sang more than once a happy Chinese song. The other Chinese sang along with him, joking and laughing. Even we got in the mood of singing, and I happen to learn "row your boat".
When coming back from the river, we decided to go for some shopping. “Some” i said? No, loads of shopping. The shops in Funghuang have just the clothing I love! India - inspired dresses, Curtis and kashmir scarf’s could be found everywhere. Beautiful paintings, Chinese art and sculptures made of wood and clay could be found in most of the shops. Funghuang is apparently known for its silver, and the rings, bracelets and earrings where amazing. I filled my bags with all these beautiful accessories and emptied my purse within a few hours.
After a successful day, we went down to the shop next door for a bottle of wine and some snacks. That night, we chatted about everything and nothing over a glass of wine and crisps. You heard me right, crisps. That is the English way of saying chips. If you say chips in England, it means French fries. And if you say French fries, it means another kind of French fries. Confusing?
Whatsoever, I suddenly got this rush of sadness over me ... again. If you think that you can control life, you are simply mistaken. Life controls you. You are just like a puppet in a puppet show. I believe however, that you can create your own destiny, and that life always give you choices. But some things are just not up to you; My grandpa passed away two weeks ago ... Even though it is very sad, I am happy that he doesn't have to suffer anymore... Rest in Peace.
The following day we headed off to Zhangjiajie with double as much luggage as we came with. We arrived in the evening, after a bumpy road of 4 hours, got a hostel, went to sleep, and woke up quite early the day after. The rain continued pouring down, and the whole place was covered in clouds. The Avatar mountains where unfortunately hidden in the thick mist. However, we decided to go and see the mountains despite of the bad weather. After all the mountains was the reason why we came to Zhangjiajie in the first place. After using our credit card or driving license as a proof that we were students, just to get the ticket cheaper, we got the cable card all the way to the top. While moving upwards the cable card was at one point totally surrounded by a thick fog, and we were not able to see anything else than white, white, white. "Are we in heaven or something?"
We reached the top, and went for a walk along the slope to see if we could find some blue people, but both the blue people and the mountains were hidden. Still the nature was beautiful, and the place had absolutely an atmosphere.
The very same day we took the bus back to Changsha, and arrived the city late that night.
Before our trip, we had a hard working week, with among others a demo lesson of ten minutes. I was very nervous before I got up there, but when I started my lesson everything was just fine, and all of us got positive feedback from the teachers and head masters. Maybe we really become good teachers?