Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Wandering China Day 9: Huashan 华山


Spanking new train station at the north of Xi'An, situated near Xi'An's third ring, it is about thirty minutes away from the city centre. The fast rail from here to Huashan was only 30minutes. Comparatively, traditional rail and bus services typically take about 3 hours. Huashan is an important icon in the Chinese imagination. Much folklore and Chinese thought originated here, described by some travellers (read tourists) as one of the most dangerous to climb in the world. To the locals it's a piece of cake.

Happily in the cabin. They offer plenty of leg room and reclining seats. The train, like advertised travels around 300km/h, about 50 short of its top speed due to the fear that corruption had led to rail development that was potentially not up to full-operational-scratch.

The face of China's 21st century high-speed rail 中国高速铁路 - China currently holds about 1,000 patents for high speed rail technology. This bullet is but one of the many high-speed train models in China - the CRH2 train (2007-present, modified from a Japanese model like most of China's fast trains, today apart from the exterior shape, the Chinese design and build their own versions of this) which I also took from Shanghai to Hangzhou

At the foot of Huashan - about to take the cable car to ascend about 1,600m. Most visitors scale the mountain by steps carved out way back in the Tang dynasty. I had insufficient time to do this by foot, when I return I shall.

The steps that many would take to emulate history. A winding 6.0km hike up near vertical mountainfaces as mentioned earlier, carved out from an ancient time.

As far as the eyes could see, there were literally tens of thousands of people there climbing the mountain. All ages, all sizes, all types of footwear, all types of intentions from tourists to adventure seekers, workers to priests. Young or old, they came, equipped or not, they went. And because there were hordes of domestic and foreign tourists, the danger was not in falling, but in stopping as there were tonnes of people behind moving forward as a mass.

Literally, the translation of Hua Shan is "flowery mountain" or "splendid mountain" and some argue that the word "华" (hua) has become the political synonym of being Chinese - Huaren (华人). One of 5 sacred Taoist peaks, this is where hardy Taoist hermits came to build temples and reflect on the Chinese '道 way'. Understanding the Chinese reverence for Hua Shan is critical in understanding the Chinese mind.

Taking a time-lapse of Hua Shan in action - clouds, people and movement.

Billboard in a train station - it reads One day in Xi'An, A thousand years spent in history. I would agree, the 9 days in Xi'An helped me see how China was in the most ancient to the most contemporary of times. It was breathtaking staying in China's ancient capital that spanned over 13 dynasties.

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Filed under: Back to China, Bob's Opinion, Culture, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Xi'An

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