The American I met a few weeks ago (whom I've tried e-mailing at the address on his business card, but the messages kept getting returned; I think John's guess that he's CIA might be right) told me that there was a road going up to the top of one of the nearby mountains, and after my morning classes Wednesday I thought I'd investigate.
To get to the road, I had to cut through the apartment complex next to the South Gate restaurants, which is continuing to add new buildings. The scaffolding around this one, like that seen in other construction in China, is not metal but bamboo.
This poster seems rather ominous; can Ling, or anyone else, explain it?
Earlier I mentioned how common banana trees are around here. They're even found in the middle of a residential complex.
A short walk through the residences took me to the narrow road — barely wide enough for a single car — leading up the mountain.
After walking less than five minutes, the road already rose over the tops of a group of high-rise apartments next to the newer complex.
For some reason I'd thought that the road went straight up to the top of the mountain; but instead it took a gentle, gradual incline. It's a popular hiking path; I saw about a dozen other people on my two-and-a-half hour walk.
The route wrapped itself around the entire mountain, offering views in various directions.
The campus lay in the distance to the east. In this hazy telephoto shot, my faculty-housing building is on the left in front.
On the other side of the mountain I could barely make out the sea and nearby islands in the distance.
Below are some of the small factories along the highway to San Zao; the town is further in the distance but not visible in this picture.
There was virtually nothing here to remind me that I was in China; it resembled a bucolic country road back home.
This appears to be a trail that goes off from the road into the woods. If I make it back here, before I leave China, I might just see where it goes. . . .
. . .or maybe not, since (judging from the exclamation mark) this might just be a warning sign nailed to a nearby tree.
I'm guessing I walked maybe 4 or 5 km when I decided I'd better turn around; it was getting near dusk, and I didn't want to be stuck finding my way back in the dark. I'd hoped to travel to the end of the road, where I suspect it comes out on the other side of the mountain (two or three cars had driven by me without returning), but that'll have to wait for another hike. By the time I reached the bottom, it was barely light enough to take this shot to give you an overall view of the mountain.
I decided to walk back by way of the South Gate restaurants, with the vague hope that I'd run into some of my students and join them for dinner (the all-text menus make it nigh impossible for me to dine there by myself). But I hit the jackpot when I met a fellow teacher who was on her way to join some of the other Foreign Language faculty members for dinner and invited me along.
We went to the same restaurant I'd been to twice before (I've forgotten the Mandarin name, but it translates to Night of the Dream), which by all accounts is by far the best one in the shopping center (most of the others are small storefront ones with a limited menu).
No pictures of the dishes this time, since many of them were ones I'd had (and shot) previously. But I was honored with many toasts, which my fellow diners used my camera to document.
When our host, Professor Sun (with whom I'm toasting here), bought the last two bottles of beer (this was after most of the food had already been eaten and I'd thought we were getting ready to leave) I made a token demurral, noting that I had to teach a class tomorrow morning; but since nearly everyone else had an earlier class than mine, my objections were ignored (as they would have been under any circumstances).