Bum Slidin’, Stair Climbin’ and Army Watchin’ in Xian during Easter 2012
Photos are here. Videos courtesy of Martijn Doekes.
I looked at the calendar. I saw April 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th in dark red color. So many red dates on the calendar could only mean one thing. It was time for a vacation!
The who and the where?
And so, Easter vacation 2012 was on the cards. Next item on the agenda was to decide on a kick ass destination. Enter Dominic Rigby, my well-traveled friend who aims to master the language of Putonghua (i.e. Mandarin) someday. Some seriously clever and intense boardroom like discussions took place between me and him. We eventually (somehow) heard the calling of several buried terracotta army soldiers all the way from Xian in China. They were beckoning at us to pay them homage.
There was also a more practical purpose to the visit. Dominic wanted to bring out the linguistic warrior in him to woo the Xian girls with his newfound Putonghua linguistic skills. He even enrolled himself in a one-month Putonghua crash course for this purpose. And as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, we also decided to climb two of the highest mountains in Xian during the trip, i.e. Mount Huashan and Mount Taibei.
Then, like the climax of a suspense movie, it hit me. What if, during the trip, Dominic would end up finding the Xian woman of his dreams and refuse to return to Hong Kong? How would I manage to return to Hong Kong without the benefit of his Putonghua skills? Enter Vic So, my high-speed running teammate who has many great qualities, the most relevant one to this occasion being the ability to speak fluent Mandarin. And, like a clever politician, I concealed my true fears about Dominic and convinced Vic to join us on this trip by selling him solely on the beauty of Xian and its mountains and its women. It worked. Then I had a déjà vu. What if Vic would also end up finding the Xian woman of his life and refuse to return to Hong Kong? Enter Martijn Doekes and Maggie, my two other friends who speak the 3rd and 4th best Mandarin respectively (read: speak zilch Mandarin). But, that didn’t matter. My problem was solved by virtue of the fact that it was shared by 3 other people. Misery loves company and it was enough of a relief to know that there were other people who would have the same problem as me should my fears materialize.
The plan was this:
(a) 5th April 2012: Fly China Eastern to Xian at 2.30pm
(b) 6th April 2012: Climb all the 4 peaks of Huashuan in Xian
(c) 7th April 2012: Get to Taibei Shan from Xian. Celebrate my birthday 3000m above sea-level
(d) 8th April 2012: Hoist the Hong Kong Trail Runners flag on the summit of Taibei Shan
(e) 9th April 2012: Pay homage to the buried terracotta soldiers, climb Li Shan, visit the City Wall and end the trip with a kick ass sumptuous dinner in Xian
(f) 10th April 2012: Return to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong