It had been planned since last week, that on our next off, we'd go to Laoshan Mountain - even just the three of us. So Marl got up today at 9AM to check the weather as it was said on the forecast that it'd be cloudy with rainshowers. But the weather looked fine and woke us up. I had a fast coffee while staring blankly at the wall. I slept at 6AM and only had 3 hours sleep. And we're climbing up the mountain. This could be a suicide, I thought.
We just planned to go there, but no plans for joining any tourist buses or trips. We want to have an adventure. So what did I do? Before I went to bed, I researched online on how to get there by bus. I mean just by public bus. I also took note of some interesting facts about Laoshan and what to expect there. I have been there 5 years ago with some of our expat friends. But this time was different because we would be going there just on our own.
So anyway, we managed to get out of the apartment at around 11AM, just in time for a half-day trip, which for us could might as well be said a whole day trip since our day really starts at 2PM. We took a bus (bus #232) from Silver Garden to Carrefour. I didn't have enough Chinese yuan (RMB) with me so I had my US dollars changed infront of Bank of China. There are some money changers who are willing to buy or sell US dollars. We already have a "peng you" there who always beams with a big smile when he sees us walking towards the bank. I walked back to Carrefour to meet up with Jan and Marl.
Suddenly, the skies went dark. The sun was covered by gray skies. And as we were sitting at the bus stop waiting for the bus, it started to rain. But no tropical depression stood in our way. We were determined to go to Laoshan - rain or shine!
Our bus (bus #304) arrived and we ran towards it - with the rest of the crowd waiting at the bus stop! Oh my gawd!!! The non-aircon bus was crowded and I didn't have any seat during half of the trip - the whole trip lasted for an hour so I've been standing on a bus for 30 damn minutes! And the girl behind me got sick and puked!!! On a plastic bag, but still - she puked!!! And you know how a non-aircon bus would smell like inside plus the lingering smell of the puke... what a best way to start the journey... in other words, BINGO!!!
We arrived the toll gate at the foot of the Mt.Laoshan at 1PM where everyone got off the bus. From there, a taxi took us up to the south entrance of the mountain itself. We paid RMB70 for each person - which was quite a rip off - and we had to share the taxi with a family of 3, with the little girl on her daddy's lap. But that includes the entrance fee. And there's no way for us to get there inside except if we take a tourist bus. So what the hell! LOL
We got off the taxi at the entrance of the south route of Laoshan. The famous mountain can be accessed from 3 known directions: north, south, and middle. There 3 different routes have a lot to offer to a tourist like us. The treks are well paved and so it wasn't really what you can consider "trekking". Just lots of stairs. Boo hoo! Good toning for my butt! Hahaha!
So we took the the south route (Yakou) where we saw paved stairs... Laoshan spring... stairs... breathtaking view... stairs... vendors... stairs... stonehedges... stairs... trees... stairs... a Taoist temple... stairs... thousands year old trees... spring... stairs... hundred year old trees... vendors... stairs... another temple... huge rocks... stairs... breathtaking view... stairs... endless stairs... and more stairs. So see, it should be called Laoshan Stairs. And the last one, cable car... and stairs.
Midway through climbing, we bought our helpful souvenirs - very helpful... WALKING STICK! Hahaha! We felt so relieved having them to support our climb. But we felt a bit shy when we see elderly people, looking fit, coming down from the peak! LOL. And also, midway through climbing, we'd stop to take photos (I've got almost a hundred!!! ) and eat our packed snacks. Jan had her sandwiches, Marl had his tofu experiment (something he cooked I think) and I had my chocolates. What would you expect from a choc girl?!?
It took us more than 4 hours to climb the mountain to its peak from the southern entrance and go down with a cable car. By the time we arrived to the other entrance (think it's North route), there were no more buses as it was past 5PM. There were couple of private cars offering us a ride for a fare. But we insisted walking back to the toll gate, thinking it's just near. But damn it was far! And luckily, we were approached by another private van who offered us RMB 8 per person. It was well worth it because it was a 20 minute drive downhill. Damn, we could have spent another 2 hours walking down the mountain and by then, it would have been dark (and dangerous). Yeah, I'm scared of ghosts! Laugh all you can! LOL
We got on the bus (bus #304) from Laoshan to Carrefour and paid only RMB 3 for an hour trip. Jan and Marl were flat tired and they were sleeping throughout the trip back. I wasn't. I'm afraid somebody might steal my walking stick! Hahaha!
It was a good experience, eh?
NEXT DESTINATION ON OUR OFF: The Qingdao Beer City (hopefully)