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Ding Ding & So Begins My Sixth Year in China

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Can you believe that I have now been living in China for five years! Today began my sixth year adventure in the land of noodles. And how does one begin such a special day?

With total confusion that’s how!

Several nights ago whilst I was tapping away upon my keyboard and having a much needed coffee fix in the nearest Mc Donald’s I met a most delightful girl named Sofia. Upon meeting we both felt a natural and exciting 'click’ and promised each other that we’d spend more time to get to know each other. Over the past several nights we have done so and today we happily headed to Dinghu Shan together. I can’t say the beginnings of my sixth year in China went according to plan as strangely and unknown to me the clock on my Nokia phone/camera had somehow raced ahead nearing two hours and as we had planned to meet at the local bus station at ten thirty this morning I obviously ended up there several hours prior.

One must then begin to wonder how many days I have actually been living several hours out of time!

Of course I had no idea at the time that I was ‘out of time’ and ten o’clock came and went as did half past ten, then eleven o’clock flew by and just as I was beginning to feel sad and let down a camera crew arrived to record the hundreds lining up to purchase tickets from their local city back to their place of work or study. Thankfully as I was giggling at the camera crew I noticed the bus stations digital clock which strangely read 10:07, I giggled at and put it in the ‘China Clock Bag’ along with the other million bus, train, hotel, school and bus station clocks that are all out of time here in China.

Soon after I heard a son tell his father that it was quarter past ten and I then looked at my phone and realised that it was almost two hours fast. I then that it was I that needed to be giggled at.

There I had been walking back and forth for well over an hour and a half trying to keep warm and then I found I still had another half an hour to wait. BUT being in China one can never tell when ‘she’ will arrive and from experience it is usually ten to twenty minutes prior to the agreed time and the first thing ‘she’ does is send a text message asking where you are. Sofia of course arrived ten minutes early and then began the bus station and bus stop confusion which thankfully I have encountered before. Somehow, bus station also translates as bus stop (well it must as this isn’t the first time this has happened) and the next half an hour found poor Sofia racing to and from several of the local bus stops in the bus station area looking for me and yes, if only I had of thought to actually use Chinese then there would have been no confusion as Bus Stop and Bus Station are completely different when said in Chinese.

Finally we found each other and headed for coffee at the nearest KFC and after many giggles as to the beginnings of our day we soon boarded Bus No: 15 from just up the road from the bus station (found on Duanzhou Silu/across from Wallmart) to our destination and for those who are impatient Bus No: 21 can also take you to Dinghu Shan.

Now For Our Mount Dinghua Adventure

As the most famed of the four well known mountains in Guangdong Province, Dinghu Mountain is an attraction where you can not only appreciate natural scenery and feel a strong religious atmosphere but it is also home to more than two thousand species of plants and animals including the very rare and valuable Indian antelope, silver pheasant and scaly ant-eater. It is composed of more than ten mountains which include Dinghu, Sanbao, Fenglai, Jilong, Fuhu, Qingshi Mountains along with the Shizi Mountain Range.

The main peak (Jilong Mountain) has an elevation of over one thousand meters which also makes it the highest mountain in the Pearl River Delta Area.

The eleven square kilometer protected reserve, some eighteen kilometers (thirty minutes by bus) northeast of Zhaoqing city offers excellent walks during which you will see lush vegetation, ancient temples, clear springs and several waterfalls and pools (including one that Sun Yatsen made his own in the 1920’s) and the area has also been visited by pilgrims for over a thousand years. Bus 15 will take you to the small town at the foot of the mountain where you can grab some water and decide whether you want to slowly stroll up the mountain or pay fifteen Yuan for a bus to do the work for you. As I was with Sofia we grabbed two bus tickets and happily waved at all those we passed as we sped up the hill.

The bus took us to the northern edge of the reserve which is known as Baoding Garden.

Here we found many replicas of ancient and famous ‘dings’ along with the World's Largest Ding (the Nine Dragon Vessel). A ‘ding’ is a ceremonial Chinese Pot with two handles and three or four legs. The Nine Dragon Vessel is around two stories high as you can actually walk beneath it and/or wait in line for all eternity to have your photo taken under it. All around the large ding are people trying their best to throw super-balls wrapped in red cloth into the ding which I guess is just the same as throwing coins into a wishing well.

According to legend Dinghu Mountain got its name as the Yellow Emperor often came here to show the locals how to make three-legged ‘dings’.

The edge of Baoding Garden looks down upon Ding Lake and in the middle of the most amazingly coloured water I have ever seen can be found small wooden boats that ferry people across the lake to a small island that has a butterfly preserve. As Sofia has visited Dinghu Mountain several times and I’m not such a huge flutterby type of person we decided to skip the small wooded island and instead stood in the pavilion checking out the tree lined mountains that surrounded the lake. For the next few hours we crossed small bridges, went up and down what felt like a millions stairs and always seemed to end up at beautiful pools which were quenching their thirst by drinking from a picturesque waterfall flowing from above, all of which makes for yet another beautiful photo.

Within the reserve numerous Buddhist temples can be found hidden among the dense trees.

We visited two of them and I was more than surprised and disappointed that both were so identical that I felt like I was in the movie Ground Hog Day when we visited the second. I am unsure what the name of the first temple was but it was very small and so filled with people that it gave the entire experience a carnival like atmosphere. When I shared this with Sofia she almost jumped up and down laughing as she is ‘so not a temple person’ but thankfully like me, she likes to visit them due to the beautiful areas in which they are found.

The second temple was Qingyuan Temple.

The temple is an enormous Buddhist complex that comprises of over one hundred buildings that was originally built during the Ming Dynasty (AD1368-1644). Within its walls can be found guilded statues of five hundred Buddhist ‘arhats (saints) and also a rice pot that is capable of feeding over one thousand people and if you are hungry there is a vegetarian restaurant for a tofu fix.

Also in the temples courtyard can be found a camellia tree that was planted in 1685.

After one of the most wonderful days I have had during this year’s Winter Beers N Noodles Adventure Sofia and I finished our day by chatting over coffee at a lake side eatery where she sadly continued to experience the ‘all eyes on us thing’ thing due to me being a foreigner and her being a Chinese Girl. In the next few days I will have to sadly leave beautiful Sofia and return to Guangzhou City and purchase a ticket back to Xian city where lately it has been snowing. I have no other warm clothes to change into as they are all packed away at a friend’s place and on top of that when I finally move to my next school I won’t unpack for the first several weeks just in case I dislike the school and how I am being treated.

Therefore, decide to leave. This is doubtful but you never know. Sixth Year Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Buffalo Tom The album was ‘Sleepy Eyed’ ____________________________________________________________

Dinghu Shan with Sofia Adventure

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Dinghu Shan with Sofia Adventure

Dinghu Shan with Sofia Adventure

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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