Monday, May 5, 2014

Poorly Planned, Arguably Well Executed

I owe a post to this blog and it so happens that I had a great day today, which I think is worthy of my blog: 

I am done with my semester! There were points where I was certain that I would live my life forever chained to the program, but Friday evening eventually came and I graduated from my program with pretty satisfying grades. Before I finished we had to give a huge symposium in which every student represented one country (I was Laos) and we had to analyze and negotiate current issues in the GMS (Greater Mekong Subregion). Each country had to write Papers and present on the issues in their perspective viewpoint. This is not easy, because one topic was dams and Laos is pro-dam, whereas personally I would not parade around like Laos proclaiming that dams are the best thing ever. But I lived a day as a Lao official and debated the hell out of my viewpoint. I ended up doing pretty well - better than I thought. 
ANYWAY. After my program ended I packed up my 7 things and started my 6 week journey through Asia, which I am doing mostly by myself. I really want to travel by myself and see how it is. I am 3 days in and so far am loving it. 
I sat in a bus for 8 hours and drove to Shaxi. (This time with my passport) I am staying in a cute hostel right next to the main square and went for a quick walk in the afternoon to stretch my legs. When I stepped out of the East Gate of the village and walked towards the river I noticed that about halfway up the mountain opposite of me there appeared to be a small temple. It looked something like this: 

(If you open the picture you will see my little ret arrow pointing to the temple) 

I wanted to go. No reason why. I just wanted to see what the temple looked like and my uneducated eye thought the hike would not be too difficult. So I went back, had dinner, met a girl while dancing in a drum circle who wanted to come with, slept and started walking the next morning. 
I had no plan, had not looked at any maps and didn't ask anyone about the path up. I figured it would be nice to try something really unplanned, since I usually try to extensively plan everything else in my life. 
So me and the Chinese girl started off with her two friends (who quickly abandoned us when getting closer and we all got a more realistic view point of the matter). My general plan was up and over and so we walked more to the left on the bottom of the mountain and then up and approached the temple from the left. If you look closer at the picture you can see that there is a cliff, which looks like nothing from far away, but actually was pretty scary. 
The walk was truly beautiful. We walked through old fields on the mountain side, battled with bushes and saw some beautiful old trees. There was no clear path and we just walked from terrace to terrace. I fell once and scratched my hand open. After about 2 hours of me guessing my way along the mountain side we saw the temple on the other side of the cliff: 

It looked so close, but the hardest part was the cliff and then the hill up to the temple was incredibly steep and no one had walked on it for a long time, which made it sort of exciting, because we seemed to be the first in a while to go up there. 

(Down in the valley)

After slipping and sliding we were at the bottom of the cliff and had to climb it up again on the other side and then up the steep hill to the damn temple. It really was much harder than I initially had anticipated, but it was still great fun. We eventually made it and it was so worth it. 

The Temple was already falling apart a bit, but the view was amazing. 

The way down also proved to be difficult, since we took a different route and ended up stock on a cliff and didn't know how to get town. We just chose the most direct way and it was a little scary. We also had to climb a couple dam construction that were built in the riverbed, but we eventually made it back. 
Not planning things can be really great sometimes. Also the other great part about hiking is that the food afterwards just tastes so much better. 


I really had a great start to my journey and I can't wait where it will take me. This Friday I am heading to Xinjiang! 

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