Adventures of Life in Beijing

While it’s true that I don’t hunt down wild animals with a bow and arrow or collect edible plants by the river, I feel like each day in China is an adventure in providing for my family.  On most days, I spend several hours in search of food, common household supplies and clothing.

Stone Age hunter-gatherers had to catch or find everything they ate, moving around from place to place. Fortunately I’m not a nomad, but I do routinely shop at 5 to 6 different stores to find everything I need.

For a simple dinner of pulled-pork sandwiches,  I might stop at one store for a pork roast, another for barbecue sauce and a third for buns.  If the third store is out of buns,  I move onto the fourth and fifth store.

Sometimes foraging results in soup or stir fry for dinner when I can’t find the ingredients for the meal I had planned. Ripe avocados are a rare find, and chocolate chips take some searching too. Taco seasoning, Triscuits, Goldfish crackers and ranch dressing? Those are things dreams are made of.

Breakfast is a challenge too. There are no toaster waffles or Wheaties. Donuts and bagels are scarce too.  Some days  I hit the bagel jackpot, finding 5 or 6 at a time, in which case I buy out the whole supply and freeze a few.

Jackpot! I found bagels.

 

Recently someone in our expat chat group posted this photo:

 

 

My phone blew up.  Everyone was chiming in with excitement about finding a store with Triscuits, Stove Top stuffing and Vlasic pickles. There was even a rumor that Jenny Wangs had Eggo Waffles. It’s about an hour taxi ride  for me, but the Triscuits might just be worth it.

Did Wilma Flintstone have it this hard? How come she always looks so good with perfectly coiffed auburn hair and I look weathered and wind-blown after my foraging trips?  Maybe Fred brought home the victuals; I don’t recall.

 

Like the hunter-gatherers of ages past I can only bring home what I can carry, since I don’t have a car. This means daily shopping is a given.

Sometimes I set off in search of clothing. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know finding jeans long enough for my tall, lanky boys is a challenge. Not as difficult as finding shoes though. Trying to find size 11 or 12 soccer cleats is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Looking for a lower priced option isn’t really a choice when we’re just lucky to find a pair in the right size. So we fork over a king’s ransom  for shoes with a swoosh, and admonish our sons to stop growing.

Shopping for household goods can feel like foraging at times too.

Today I went to two different stores looking for light bulbs. It should be a simple task, you say. Well, I found exactly one bulb in the desired wattage.

Sometimes treasures show up in unexpected places when I’m not even searching, like finding a clean, Western toilet in a city populated with  squat toilets.

 

Relief is in sight!

 

Or persimmon and date trees offering a sweet snack during a hike along the Great Wall.

 

 

Wild persimmon trees

 

Fresh dates are a tasty find

 

Sometimes the treasures I collect are a smile or friendly greeting offered by a stranger, not a common occurrence in this fast-paced metropolis. Beijingers tend to keep to themselves until a personal connection is made.

I collect the bagels, soccer shoes, light bulbs and smiles to fill my house and my heart so that I can provide love and security to my family and friends who visit. While I might be living in a city that is racing toward modernization at break-neck speed, my days are grounded in the same desires shared by hunter-gatherers from days gone by.

 

Comments (442):

  1. Paula Kasnitz

    November 27, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving! I can only imagine the challange.

  2. Jeannie

    November 27, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Love your post. Are you able to find traditional American Thanksgiving foods? I once spent Thanksgiving in Bangkok and there were stores that got turkeys in for ex-pats living there. I brought the rest for our feast in my overloaded suitcase!! Happy Thanksgiving, Harringtons!

  3. Adele

    November 28, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Your family is blessed to have such a loving and dedicated forager!! Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃🍁♥️

  4. KelseypaEn

    August 12, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    free unlimited vpn
    hma vpn
    vpn configuration windows free

  5. GladipaEn

    August 28, 2022 at 12:53 am

    white gay liberal dating interracial to avoid seen as racist
    gay mature dating
    gay dating for country folks

  6. KevinHeata

    September 3, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    You suggested this really well.
    write narrative essay write paper personal statement writers

  7. butalesee

    September 5, 2022 at 4:14 pm

    Interlobular bile ducts, and lower ileum, which is to all like this, lofepramine less inquisitorial, and depressing waiting until union best place to buy generic cialis online It s expensive to send products from India and China, Knoche quoted Alex as saying

  8. Alvenbeede

    September 5, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    You actually stated this effectively. paper help essay writing help

  9. Crerili

    September 7, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    People medical name for cialis can play mahjong in the car, take a shower, and do whatever they want except not driving cialis 40 mg

  10. Alvinmayob

    September 11, 2022 at 1:09 am

    You made your point.
    writing a response essay write my essay content writing services usa

  11. Alvinmayob

    September 11, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    With thanks, I value it!
    interesting college essay prompts argumentative essay cheap custom essay writing services

  12. WendellTot

    September 11, 2022 at 8:44 pm

    Regards! Lots of information!
    cialis canadian pharmacy discount pharmacies canadian pharmacy certified canada pharmacy online

  13. Alvinmayob

    September 12, 2022 at 2:02 pm

    Regards, I like this.
    college scholarships essays essaytyper essay writing service recommendation

  14. BruceLourl

    September 12, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    You actually suggested this superbly.
    canadian drugs online pharmacy buy cialis pharmacy near me

  15. Alvinmayob

    September 12, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    This is nicely said! .
    writing an expository essay college essay academic writing service

  16. WendellTot

    September 12, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    Kudos. Wonderful information.
    canada online pharmacy pharmacy online store non prescription online pharmacy reviews

  17. Alvinmayob

    September 13, 2022 at 4:19 am

    Thanks, Wonderful stuff!
    homework essay help colleges essays ghostwriting services rates

  18. Alvinmayob

    September 13, 2022 at 7:15 am

    Thanks. Loads of content!
    how to write a correct essay essay citing a website in essay

  19. Alvinmayob

    September 13, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    Fantastic posts. Appreciate it!
    how to write conclusion of essay essaytyper dissertation writer

  20. Alvinmayob

    September 14, 2022 at 11:27 pm

    Regards! Great stuff!
    help with my essay essay rewriter best websites for essays

  21. WendellTot

    September 15, 2022 at 2:46 am

    You actually said this exceptionally well!
    mail order pharmacies canadian viagra discount pharmaceuticals

  22. Alvinmayob

    September 15, 2022 at 6:33 am

    You actually revealed this really well.
    write a good essay essay rewriter help for writing

  23. WendellTot

    September 15, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Appreciate it! A lot of postings!
    discount drugs online pharmacy canada discount drug prescription drugs without prior prescription

  24. Alvinmayob

    September 16, 2022 at 12:56 am

    Nicely put, Cheers!
    narrative essay writing prompts write my essay write my homework for me

  25. Alvinmayob

    September 16, 2022 at 10:26 am

    Fantastic write ups. Regards.
    write my essay review essay writing editing services

  26. Alvinmayob

    September 16, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    Nicely put. Regards.
    writing a essay essay all ivy writing services

  27. Alvinmayob

    September 17, 2022 at 2:40 am

    Kudos! Valuable stuff!
    how to write a brief essay essay ghostwriter services

  28. escashy

    September 17, 2022 at 8:25 am

    At the same time, rapidly evolving surgical technology and research in thoracic surgery may actually require significant curriculum changes and increased length of specialty training, according to this report at Thoracic Surgery News. doxycycline drug class

  29. Alvinmayob

    September 17, 2022 at 10:00 am

    Very good stuff. Thanks a lot!
    citing a website in an essay essay writer writing services business

  30. Alvinmayob

    September 17, 2022 at 12:17 pm

    Nicely put, Kudos!
    best online essay writing services write my essays personal writers

  31. BruceLourl

    September 17, 2022 at 2:16 pm

    You reported it effectively.
    discount pharmaceuticals ed meds online non prescription online pharmacy reviews

  32. Alvinmayob

    September 17, 2022 at 10:58 pm

    Nicely put, Appreciate it.
    writing compare and contrast essay cheap custom essay write my report

  33. Alvinmayob

    September 18, 2022 at 4:28 am

    Beneficial tips. With thanks!
    write my essay canada college essays business letter writing services

  34. Alvinmayob

    September 18, 2022 at 11:59 am

    Thank you! Excellent information.
    essay how to write write my essay high quality article writing service

  35. Alvinmayob

    September 18, 2022 at 2:16 pm

    Nicely put. With thanks.
    how to write an 5 paragraph essay college essay writers freelance

  36. BruceLourl

    September 19, 2022 at 7:28 am

    Superb knowledge. With thanks!
    prescription drugs online without canadian drugstore trust pharmacy canada

  37. BruceLourl

    September 19, 2022 at 9:13 pm

    Fine posts. Many thanks!
    canada prescriptions drugs prescription drug best online pharmacies no prescription

  38. Alvinmayob

    September 20, 2022 at 2:52 am

    Appreciate it, A lot of tips.
    essays to write essays writer best resume writing services in atlanta ga

  39. Alvinmayob

    September 20, 2022 at 5:14 am

    Many thanks. Valuable stuff!
    good college essay college essays web content writers

  40. Alvinmayob

    September 20, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    You made your point very effectively.!
    help me write an essay https://ouressays.com/ custom dissertation writing services

  41. Alvinmayob

    September 21, 2022 at 10:22 am

    Kudos! An abundance of advice.
    outstanding college essays college essay music best seo article writing service

  42. BruceLourl

    September 21, 2022 at 2:35 pm

    Kudos! I like it!
    online pharmacy without prescription pharmeasy buy prescription drugs without doctor

  43. Alvinmayob

    September 21, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    Wonderful data, Thank you.
    essay writer jobs essay writings best writing service reviews

  44. Alvinmayob

    September 21, 2022 at 11:24 pm

    Really a good deal of superb data!
    please help me write my essay essays writer writing help for college students

  45. BruceLourl

    September 22, 2022 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks, Very good stuff.
    canadadrugs pharmacy discount canadian pharmaceuticals online reviews

  46. Alvinmayob

    September 22, 2022 at 10:17 pm

    Fantastic stuff. Thanks a lot.
    essay writting service essay writer american essay writing service

  47. Alvinmayob

    September 23, 2022 at 1:22 am

    Cheers. Very good information!
    best essay writing service website essaytyper best essay writing website

  48. BruceLourl

    September 23, 2022 at 7:51 am

    Nicely spoken really! !
    walgreens pharmacy canadadrugs canadian drugs online pharmacies

  49. Alvinmayob

    September 23, 2022 at 11:12 am

    You revealed this fantastically!
    how to write a good reflective essay college essays custom of writing letters

  50. Alvinmayob

    September 23, 2022 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks! Terrific stuff!
    essay writer cheap write my essay best essay writing service reviews

  51. Alvinmayob

    September 24, 2022 at 10:29 am

    Many thanks. A good amount of information.
    the help book essay teaching essay writing college essay writing services

  52. BruceLourl

    September 24, 2022 at 11:23 am

    With thanks! An abundance of information.
    aarp recommended canadian pharmacies canada pharmacies canadian pharmacy online canada

  53. WendellTot

    September 25, 2022 at 8:06 am

    Thank you. An abundance of facts.
    canada pharma limited llc pharmacy in canada canada pharma limited

  54. Alvinmayob

    September 25, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    Really quite a lot of beneficial knowledge.
    expository essay writing prompts write my essays web writing services

  55. Wermify

    October 13, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    The mean value of the unstimulated groups was arbitrarily set as 1 cialis coupons

  56. oRdepay

    October 25, 2022 at 10:41 am

    3 T trans 4 n butylcyclohexyl carboxylate and TU are even longer acting preparations with sustained therapeutic blood levels for about 6 12 weeks depending on the dose ivermectin amazon 56 60 In contrast to estrogen, progesterone analogs, and gabapentinoids, which seem to have similar effects in women and men with hot flashes, clonidine has not been associated with a reduction in hot flashes in men as it has in women

  57. lbw

    October 26, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    I used to bbe able tto fiknd good info frpm yor blog posts.

  58. Yella Cremer

    October 26, 2022 at 9:32 pm

    Name please of this kitchen sex scene. 3 min Tkvmcrjkmljkme2X 366.9k Views -.
    720p. A good cunt’s food in the kitchen. SAN045.
    26 min Porncucumber 498k Views -. 1080p.

  59. Marc Dorcel Porno Bang Sex Movies

    October 27, 2022 at 6:53 am

    Erkan Avcı (Zafer) Burak Altay (Kado) Mehmet Bozdoğan (3) Onur Sermik.

    Onur Sermik. Gizem Karaca (Elisa) Faruk Acar. Uğur Ercan Tüm Kadroyu Göster.
    ×. Şikayetinizi Yazın me GİZEMLİ MİSAFİR’DEN İLK FRAGMAN.

  60. Williamerott

    October 27, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    fda approved canadian online pharmacies ed meds online

  61. BrandonSpoum

    October 31, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    propecia pill propecia cost

  62. algogue

    November 3, 2022 at 7:20 pm

    is cialis generic 16, we labeled vCA1 neurons at two different time points such that ChR2 eYFP cells reflected vCA1 neurons active during the first Context A exposure, whereas c Fos cells reflected vCA1 neurons active during the second Context A exposure in the A A group or vCA1 neurons active in the home cages in the A HC group 9 days after the first context exposure

  63. uncefutle

    November 6, 2022 at 9:18 am

    tamoxifen osteoporosis 12 but the HR for time to distant metastasis was significantly improved by 19 with exemestane HR 0

  64. spoisse

    November 8, 2022 at 10:19 am

    tablet intermittently, days 1 14 plus gemcitabine 600 mg m 2 priligy tablets Gabapentin Gabapentin The risk or severity of adverse effects can be increased when Cabergoline is combined with Gabapentin

  65. RenaldoKip

    November 9, 2022 at 4:50 am

    Effectively voiced certainly! .

  66. CharlesIsobe

    November 13, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    buy doxycycline online nz doxycycline 100mg

  67. Keithvieks

    November 15, 2022 at 8:48 am

    Seriously loads of awesome advice!
    certified canadian pharmacies online mens ed pills solutions to erectile dysfunction

  68. Liecaug

    November 15, 2022 at 9:32 am

    Brutal Force SARMs alternatives are perfect for not only being better natural bodybuilding alone but also for supplementing SARMs use lasix brand name Collagen vascular disease was found in four patients, including two patients with rheumatoid arthritis, one patient with systemic lupus erythematosus SLE, and one patient with polymyositis

  69. Edwintaurn

    November 16, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    prednisone 4mg buy prednisone 20mg

  70. ScottBep

    November 18, 2022 at 5:07 am

    You actually mentioned it exceptionally well!
    reputable online pharmacy lloyds online pharmacy canadian pharmacy cialis no prescription

  71. ScottBep

    November 18, 2022 at 11:23 am

    You have made your position very effectively!.
    rx express pharmacy navarre fl caremark online pharmacy legitimate mexican pharmacy online

  72. Peterfuert

    November 19, 2022 at 7:36 am

    You actually said it superbly.
    no prescription rx medicine care rx pharmacy adv pharmacy canada

  73. Peterfuert

    November 19, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    Kudos! I appreciate it.
    best canadian prescription prices internet pharmacy mexico bringing prescription drugs into us from mexico

  74. Türk Küçük Kız Yayında Amini Acıyor

    November 19, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    CiciSex Porno ile En iyi Porno seks filmleri izle. En güncel gerçek
    seks deneyimlerini cicisex ile yaşamanın tadına varabileceğiniz
    sayfamız üzerinden güncel porno filmler ile çılgın sex videolarını izleyebilirsiniz.
    Sitemiz üzerinden brazzers, rokettube, xnxx gibi birçok porno videosuna gizli sikiş izleyip porn videolarına.

  75. Keithvieks

    November 20, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    Amazing tons of terrific knowledge!
    price medication canada drugs online order medicine

  76. JustinCal

    November 21, 2022 at 4:33 am

    Incredible a good deal of superb knowledge.
    generic pharmacy store prescription pricing online canadian pharmacy 24

  77. drinking 24 hours after dicyclomine reddit

    November 21, 2022 at 7:54 am

    Know more about what is Clindamycin? what are the side effects and its
    uses. Thick/white vaginal discharge. Is Clindamycin gel good for acne?

  78. KeithTam

    November 22, 2022 at 9:25 pm

    the best ed pill edpillsfast.com
    ed meds best ed pill

  79. Keithvieks

    November 23, 2022 at 4:55 am

    You actually revealed this effectively!
    z pak canadian pharmacy online drug store canadian drug pharmacies

  80. KeithTam

    November 24, 2022 at 6:43 am

    non prescription ed pills edpillsfast.com
    pills for erection best ed medication

  81. AlvaroAmisy

    November 28, 2022 at 1:49 am

    top mail order pharmacies in usa naijamoviez.com
    pill for erectile dysfunction canada drugs online reviews

  82. JamesFew

    November 29, 2022 at 5:30 am

    Information very well taken!.
    all in one pharmacy pharmacy drugs world rx pharmacy

  83. ErnestMoony

    November 29, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    Truly all kinds of terrific info.
    certified canadian pharmacies online sam’s club pharmacy cvs pharmacy in store clinic

  84. Charlesparie

    November 30, 2022 at 7:11 am

    You actually suggested this exceptionally well.
    pharmacy supply store near me world rx pharmacy canadian vipps pharmacies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Taishan

Last Sunday, three friends and I hopped on a high speed train from Beijing to Tai’an City in Shandong Province. We came to climb Taishan, China’s most sacred peak. For more than 3,000 years, religious pilgrims, philosophers, and emperors have come to trek up 7,000 stone stairs to offer sacrifices to the gods and obtain spiritual favor.

We came seeking adventure and an escape from big city Beijing. Personally, I dedicated my efforts to raising money for New Day Foster Home, hoping to make a positive impact on the lives of some very special orphans. You can read more about my fundraiser on my previous blog post Climbing for Kids

Our Chinese guide met us as we exited the train. With a buzz cut, glasses and a button down oxford shirt, Asher looked more like he was dressed for the office than for hiking. His miniature backpack was barely large enough to hold a toothbrush. Does he remember we are planning to spend the night at the top in sub-freezing temperatures?

At 32, he told us he’s been guiding for 10 years and has been up to the summit more times than he can remember. We forgot to ask him whether he actually hiked up, or took the cable car.

 

Our guide Asher

After dinner of Spicy Rice Noodle Soup with Lamb, it was back to the hotel for an early bed time. Explorers need their beauty sleep.

 

Dinner for less than $3.

 

The breakfast buffet was heavy on beer, baijiu and baozi. I decided to stick with the Pop Tart and instant Starbucks I brought along.

 

Booze for breakfast? Where’s the coffee?

 

We drove 15 minutes to the foot of the mountain. “Everybody, follow me, follow me,” Asher said waving his hiking pole as he led us through the parking lot toward the Red Gate where we will start the day. It’s about 10 kilometers to the top with 1,400 meters of elevation gain.

 

We will pass through 9 gates on the way to the summit (the Red Gate is farther up the hill). L to R: Curtis, me, Mil, Andrew.

 

The pavement path leads us past bamboo forests, temples, stone tablets, and ancient cypress trees.

“Can you see the signs on the trees?” Asher asked. “Some of them are between 500 to 1,000 years old.”  In places, the trees curve and bend over the path, forming a tunnel. It’s a cool, fragrant forest, a welcome respite from the recent heavy pollution and sandstorms in Beijing.

 

And because it’s China, there’s no shortage of souvenir shops and snack vendors on the lower mountain. I’ve never thought of bringing a whole cucumber or radish on a hike, but they’re popular here.

 

Asher pointed out historical markers along the way, but I confess I was more interested in listening to the birds sing and the river rush by. I’ve never been very good at keeping the Qing and Ming dynasties straight.

But even with my embarrassing lack of knowledge of Chinese history, knowing that I was walking in the steps of Confucius was heady. Did he hike in straw shoes and a flowing robe? I was thankful for my Gortex-lined boots and practical hiking pants.

 

“Whether a man thinks he can or cannot, he is right.”
—Confucius

I pondered this as the path became steeper. The breathing around me got louder, punctuated by the occasional “jia you!” as the Chinese shouted encouragement to each other. It translates as “add oil (to the fire)” but it means something like “you can do it!”

“Woo-woo-woo-woo,” Asher started belting out the occasional primal shout that shattered my quiet thoughts.

“Why is he doing that? What is that noise?” I asked my hiking buddy Andrew, not wanting to offend Asher in case he’s engaged in some sort of religious ritual.

“It’s bloody irritating, is what it is,” replied Andrew. “It sounds like a mutant monkey in mating season.”

Maybe Asher thinks we’re getting tired, and he’s trying to revive the esprit de corps, or he’s sounding an alarm to the souvenir shops around the bend to tell them the gullible foreigners are coming. I added it to my “It’s China, don’t try to understand” list.

After about two hours we arrived at the Middle Gate, where hikers normally rest before starting the steeper second half to the top. There’s a small restaurant and vendors selling instant noodles, roasted sweet potatoes and cold beer.

 

Snacks for sale at the middle gate

 

Resting before the steep part

 

“Here, have some drinks,” Asher offered as he pulled out some pouches of milk that have likely been sitting in his backpack next to his toothbrush since yesterday. I’m sure he didn’t want to carry them any further, and I felt bad rejecting his hospitality but I just couldn’t stomach warm milk. I drank some water and ate some crackers I brought, along with a piece of cheese, which actually had been sitting in my backpack since yesterday.

We set off again, and got the first glimpse of what lay ahead.

 

Only a few thousand more steps to go!

 

We arrived at the section called the 18 bends, where the slope of the stairs is close to a 70 degree angle. I’m thankful for the railing. The steps are small and steeply pitched, almost like a ladder.

 

It’s steeper than it looks. Really. And there are 18 of these.

 

Near the top, the steps are uneven and some are loose, making it difficult to find sturdy footing. I kept going, knowing something beautiful was waiting at the summit. I hope the same will be true for the orphans on their difficult journey through life.

I was thankful for all of the subway stairs I did in preparation, but still my legs started to shake.

I started counting steps to keep myself going, and pictured the orphans with their leg braces, walkers and wheel chairs. Ten steps for Freddy, ten steps for James, ten steps for Titus…..this became my meditation that carried me to the top.

Asher propelled himself up the mountain with his battle cry vocalizations; one elderly woman held a small red recording device that played the ancient Buddhist mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum.”

Seven hours after we started, we reached the South Heavenly Gate, where Taoist followers feel a sense of Nirvana, believing they would become immortal. We just felt tired and hungry, and celebrated with chocolate chip cookies and Snickers.

 

Views from the top

The true summit lies at 1,545 meters, which meant we still had a bit more climbing to do to reach Jade Emperor Peak.

 

Jade Emperor Peak

 

We decided to drop our backpacks at the hotel and rest for a few minutes before continuing. We had been told that the accommodations on the top of the mountain would be very basic, so we were pleasantly surprised at how nice our hotel was. I wonder where Confucius slept on his journey.

 

Our mountain hotel. We even had hot water.

 

Hotel lobby ceiling was gorgeous!

It was late afternoon by then, so we headed to top, stopping at the Bixia temple (built 1009 AD) on the way. Every year thousands of Chinese couples make the trip to the top of the mountain to pray for the blessings of a child from the Goddess Bixia Yuanjun. I love my boys, but I kept a respectful distance from Yuanjun’s statue lest any utterances on my part might get lost in translation on the way to fertility goddess.

 

Can you see the bit of snow on the ground ?

 

We take a few obligatory photos at the summit marker, and head back down the hill.

 

We have a few minutes rest at the hotel before a short walk to see the sunset.

Evening glow

 

After dinner at the hotel it was time for bed. We’d scaled 1,441 meters of vertical by climbing over 380 flights of stairs. It was time for a rest.

DAY TWO

We got up at 4:30 (that’s a.m.) to hike to the best spot to view the sunrise.

It was below freezing with a brisk wind, and I was thankful for my down jacket. For those who came unprepared, long military-style coats were available to rent.

 

We had a quick breakfast at the hotel (which was not served with alcohol this time) and started down the mountain.

 

Breakfast of steamed bread, noodle soup, a hard boiled egg and pickles. It was bland but filling.

Instead of retracing our steps, we took an alternate route down through a pine forest, with more steps of course. There are very few dirt hiking paths in China; most trails are cement stairs or paved paths. It takes a bit of “nature” out of the experience, but the Chinese believe that a more stable path is safer.

 

 

As one of the world’s most climbed mountains in a country with over a billion people, having the forest to ourselves was a delightful surprise. Our plan of coming during a weekday in low season was paying off.

I’m savoring the views and tranquility of the pine forest when Asher starts again with the strange noises. Is he yodeling? Listening for an echo?

“Why are you making that noise?”

“I’m calling the monkeys,” he said.

Asher had been slowing down and limping visibly. Maybe he was calling out in pain.

“You guys, let’s wait up. I’m getting a little concerned about Asher. He’s falling further and further behind,” my friend Mil said.

“What happens when your guide can’t continue?” I ask.

“You call the tour company and tell them you want a new guide, because the old one is broken,” Andrew responded practically.

We can’t just leave him behind. Maybe we could run back up the hill and get the sedan chair I saw at the summit and carry him down.

 

“I think I underestimated you,” Asher said to me at one of our rest breaks, which had become more frequent as he rested his knee.

“I think you underestimated all of us,” I said. Did he think we were a bunch of middle-aged out of shape tourists? We hike together regularly in Beijing, and the rough unrestored section of the Great Wall had been excellent training ground.

“I think it will only take 2-3 hours to get down, not 4,” he said.

We make our way down  through the forest dotted with the occasional spray of wildflowers, punctuated with Asher’s caterwauling. It’s really annoying, but I don’t have the heart to ask him to stop. I think his shrill howls are his way of giving himself a pep talk.

 

 

The path is steep, and curves at such an angle it disappears into the horizon like an infinity pool.

 

It’s hard to trust the unknown road, but like life, the path is filled with surprises. There’s an unexpected waterfall around one corner and a gazebo around another.

 

At one rest break, I tied a traditional prayer flag on tree. It fluttered in the wind, sending out my prayers for the orphans that “forever families” would come soon.

 

Climbing Taishan brings peace to the family.

 

As we got closer to the end of the trail we saw local villagers collecting plants on the hillside.

“In ancient time people in China were very poor, so they had to eat whatever they could find. This is the reason they like to collect plants, for medicine and to eat,” explained Asher. “But we don’t eat snakes or rats and most people don’t eat dogs,” he said.

I think about the dog meat hanging at the markets we visited in Yangshuo, and Peter Hessler’s article in the New Yorker “A Rat in my Soup,” about the specialty rodent restaurants in Guandong province.

Some things are best left unmentioned.

We finished the hike uneventfully and headed to a local restaurant for lunch, which thankfully, served neither rat nor dog. Instead we celebrated our accomplishment with a few local specialties: braised pork with chestnuts and scallion pancakes.

As we travelled back to Beijing, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. I was grateful and humbled by the opportunity to do something that I love – hiking in the mountains – while raising money for some very special kids. If you didn’t have a chance to donate to my fundraiser, there’s still time. You can donate by Clicking Here

Just write “Mt. Tai” where it says “add a note.”

Thank you for coming alongside me on this journey. I hope your calves aren’t as sore as mine.

 

 

Climbing for Kids


(I apologize in advance if you’ve already received this from me. Please enjoy the pictures.)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost two years since we moved to China. We are winding down our time here and heading back to the States in June.

I’ve been so fortunate to hike through bamboo forests,

along scenic rivers, up Karst peaks, through chestnut tree orchards, in the Rainbow Mountains and past remote villages.

 

I’ve been to the Great Wall more times than I can count, from the beginning of the Ming-era Great Wall in Gansu province

 

 

to Laolongtou the “Old Dragon’s Head” where the wall finishes by dipping down into the sea.

 

 

Not everything turned out the way we had hoped, however. When I came to Beijing, one of my biggest wishes was to spend time with a group of kids from New Day Foster Home.

 

We have supported their work with Chinese orphans for years, sponsoring children, visiting and donating supplies. We’ve had the privilege of choosing names for Thomas and Lydia when they arrived at the orphanage, and have been praying that each one would find a forever family. Many of you have helped along the way.

 

Shortly before we arrived in Beijing, the government ordered all the kids to return to their home orphanages and foreign visitors are no longer allowed. Fortunately, New Day has been able to continue to support some of these kids with ongoing medical care, trained nannies, and therapy inside the Chinese government run orphanages.

 

Knowing that I will be leaving soon, I want to give something back by helping these kids.

So, here’s where you come in. On March 21, I’m headed to Shandong province to hike up Mt. Tai, revered as China’s most sacred peak. I’ll be following in the footsteps of Confucius, 72 emperors, Chairman Mao and millions of Taoists who have scaled this peak as a spiritual journey.

 

 

I’m asking you to sponsor me by donating to New Day Foster Home. The daylong hike involves 7,000 steep, stone stairs twisting and turning to the top with 1,500 meters of elevation gain over 10 kilometers. It’s grueling, but I’ll be thinking of the kids with their leg braces, walkers and wheelchairs when I get tired.

 

 

I’d love to raise a dollar for each step. Seven thousand dollars would provide hours of therapy, medical procedures and field trips for the kids in the orphanage. Think of it this way: how much would you be willing to donate to NOT have to climb 7,000 steps? Here’s a link for donation:

www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FM9SEMPBQYYPL

OR visit their website to learn more: www.newdayfosterhome.com

Please make the notation “Mt. Tai” on your donation so I can keep track of my goal.

You can also follow me on Facebook or Instagram @ Harringtonsinorlando for updates on my trip.

Thank you for your love and support. I’m so thankful to have you on this China adventure. I’m looking forward to coming home, but part of my heart will stay behind, in the mountains, with the kids and with friends I’ve made from all over the world.