At around noon, a group of friends and I set off by bus to the Western Hills outside of Kunming. We got off at the wrong stop and found ourselves in a suburb (which in China is considered poor and undeveloped). We asked around as to how to get on the hiking trails, and the villagers directed us down the street. As we walked along the gutter, we stumbled upon what looked like a temple. We decided to take a quick look before adventuring on the hiking trails. It turned out to be a memorial for a Chinese geographer－徐霞客 (Xu Xiake: 1587-1641). It was a peaceful household turned-into museum. In the other section of the place, the courtyard was surrounded by four separate rooms, with multiple fall-colored trees. There was a fruit tree bearing large, yellow fruits. We politely asked the police guard to help us get one. He said, “Why do you want to eat that? They are too sour, not sweet like a pomelo, and less sour than a lemon.” We helped us pull two off the branches anyways. With much effort, I pulled the thick skin off the core, which turned out to be very small. It was like the guard said, not sweet and not as sour as a lemon. I thought it tasted okay.
Entering the Courtyard of the Memorial
The guard led us to a set of stairs that would bring us to the path (and avoid paying the entrance fee!) We said goodbye and headed up the mountain. We first stopped at the Magnolia garden and took a break. Ryan, Phillip, and I decided to take advantage of the “fengshui” and did Taichi. Our CET Harbin gym teacher would be so proud! We had a crowd of older men and women gaze at us curiously and humorously as we messed up the moves. I plan to continue practicing!
Performing Taichi in the Magnolia Garden
Afterwards, we continued our way up. We went off the beaten track and took a steeper route up the mountain. When we reached the top, unfortunately the view was blocked off with trees. But, that didn’t stop my friend:
Ryan Climbing to See the View
The hike was fun and a good workout. I kept forgetting it was Christmas because it was nothing like Christmas–no snow and no family. I am very lucky to have had friends in Kunming during this time of year, or else I would feel very homesick. I am so thankful!
View of Kunming from the Western Hills
We hiked back down to pick up a bus back to the city. We ate pizza that night to celebrate the holiday and stayed up late talking. I had an enjoyable Christmas…but I of course missed my family. This is my first year away from home during the holidays. I hope everyone had a happy holiday and look forward to the coming TWO new years (Western and Eastern). Merry Christmas!