Seriously, there is something very wrong with the Chinese understanding of the word “hike”. Several students have asked me what I like to do, and hiking came up as one of the responses. So I went with Jim on a hike, and this was not a hike. In fact, this was a nature walk with stairs. It was about the thinnest definition of hike that I have ever known. There were woods, there was a trail, and people were doing a form of walking on an incline. The integral parts of hiking did exist, but it WAS NOT (*#^#&($&^$ HIKING! Ye gawds, and yesterday I went for another walk that the Chinese thought of as a hike. This was, likewise, not a hike. It once again had the necessary steps to be a hike. But it was a hike in the same my sister’s house cat is the Queen of the Jungle. Yes, she has a tail, whiskers, feline-features, and a distinct taste for creatures not as fast as her, but she definitely does not prowl the wild Savannah.
And I have concluded that either someone has failed all Chinese simultaneously in explaining what hiking is, they share a cultural delusion of grandeur, or that is actually what hiking is like in China. I’m currently leaning towards the second option given how delusional the Chinese seem to be out here( I think it’s something in the water or the tea). But a whole post of me ranting would hardly inform you of a chinese hike, so without adieu, I give you Baishuidai Park.
Baishuidai Park, like most Chinese parks, is run by the government and is thus in superb upkeep and condition. The steps are well cut stone, the roads are well paved, the price of entry and parking is quite reasonable, and the path has lights for night traffic. The Park starts at the base of a hill. No, this is not a mountain despite what the locals may say. This is a glorified mound in another wise flat city. There is a lake about a quarter of the way up, a river that feeds from a spring, all on a well groomed walk and path. It then has an uphill path that leads to 11 story pagoda. Quite a view and pagoda is very nice. It is well painted and taken care of. Not like an earlier temple we visited.
I don’t know it’s name and I’m glad I won’t have to ever file away that little bit of knowledge. This was a temple at the top of another hill that was, in two words, god awful. Apparently it wasn’t up the usual snuff so they had it completely renovated. The railings were replace, the buildings repainted with a very tacky vision of Chinese architecture, the sculpture was horrendous, and all the iconogrpahy(statues, symbols, etc.) was painted gold. No joke, painted gold. It looked like the leftovers from Liberace’s house and the excluded section of Michael Jackson’s ranch for blind and feeble children. I didn’t take pictures for two reasons:
1) I didn’t want to sully my phone with pictures of those…things.
2)I would have been doing a disservice to the memory of what those statures once looked like.
The only good thing that came from the morning “hike” was a smaller temple at the base of one of the hills which deserves a post all to itself. It tweaked my historian brain.