A Travellerspoint blog

I slept in a cave

Once again, I had to switch my midnight train to the 8 p.m. train because my student cancelled. It worked out better that way because I got to Taiyuan earlier and made it to the west bus station with plenty of time to spare.

At first, I was waiting at the wrong bus stop, but I didn't realize it for a whole hour. My toes were freezing off and I guess it woke my brain up. When I finally read the sign, it was 6 a.m. and I had to walk over to the right one. I made the exact same mistake in the opposite direction last time, so I knew exactly where I needed to go.

As I was walking, my toes were thawing and I saw a huge crowd waiting for the same bus as me. It didn't come until 7 a.m., after I had been outside in -12 degree weather, doing nothing for two hours.

When we all finally got to the bus station on the other side of town, they wouldn't even sell me a ticket until 30 minutes before the bus was leaving. That meant I had to sit there until 10 a.m. freezing in the lobby. I found the heater and sat on it, trying to warm up.

I put on another pair of pants and eventually, departed for Qikou. We had a brand new bus with plastic still on the seats. It even had a new bus smell.

The bus wound around, up and down mountains, as I dozed and watched the dusty landscape go by. I was the last one riding the bus and I was getting a little anxious. The bus driver told me I was fine and finally we stopped at the edge of the frozen Yellow River. There was this otherworldly dusty atmosphere with caves cut into the sides of brownish-reddish hills.

This is what I freeze for two hours in the cold for. This is what I pile into a crowded, dirty train for and step out of at ungodly hours. This is what I starve and dehydrate myself for. This is what I put my body through absolute chaos for, week after week. This is what I sleep on rocks for. This is what I forgo showers for. This is absolutely everything to me.

I'm not discovering new lands or uncovering ancient secrets, but to go places that most people wouldn't even dream of is really an amazing thing. To have the leisure time to do this, is an incredible opportunity and I will never let it pass me by.

Walking alone on an empty road in the midst of another indescribable experience is worth all the sacrifices I have made to get here. The brief, but intense friendships I leave behind and the absolute hellish acquaintances I meet on the job are both worth it. When I can step out of a bus at the edge of this ancient, supremely important river and breathe in this crisp air, I fasten my backpack a little bit closer and take the first step up the next mountain. This one moment is worth every hardship.

Trudging up this hill for an hour, a 500 year old track brought me to a village with a population of 45, who have lived in the side of a hill for generations. How is this experience not worthwhile? How can I stay at home, when invigorating and irreplaceable experiences such as these are waiting, relatively easy to attain. The absolute elation and incredible lightness I feel as a result of the pain and struggle pales in comparison.

When I look at the toothless grin of the innkeeper who begs me to stay at his mountain cave home, how can I consider it a struggle at all? I am blessed beyond my expectations and lucky beyond my dreams. How could I dare ignore these dazzling opportunities right in front of me?

The guest house was warm and his face was tanned and leathery. He found a young woman to explain that my cave room or "yaodong" was 60 yuan, including breakfast and dinner. She also helped me get to Xi'An in the morning, so I gave both of them a hearty thanks.

I had enough time to wander around the village in time for the sunset. Exhausted, I collapsed in bed and traded my sweaty clothes for pyjamas, thinking I'd have a quiet dinner alone with the innkeeper.

When I opened the kitchen door, two wealthy looking men with Arcteryx jackets looked up and stared. They told me through their translation apps they were hoteliers building a new luxury resort and bar in town. I was glad to hear that but also a little sad. The whole character of the tiny hill village will totally change, but I hope more money will come into this hidden paradise. Ahh the price of development. I told them not to make their bar too loud and not to even think about adding any disco lights! They laughed and promised they wouldn't, but I didn't believe them. We shared some simple tofu, mutton with peppers and scrambled eggs, as they broke out bottle after bottle of baijiu They told me they'd drive me down the mountain in the morning.

After dinner, I called my mom using the surprisingly fast wifi in the cave. How about that? I thought I had reached the end of civilization, but high speed wifi still found its way through.

I went to bed feeling fantastic and found two more amazing surprises. The outhouse had no roof, so I peed under the stars. When I hopped into bed, I found that it was radiating heat! It was a "kang" style bed, with a chamber that conducts the heat from the nearby fire, right underneath me! I was in absolute heaven, and even did the calculations, wondering how long I could stay here, on my current income. It turned out to be actually quite a while. If I only used my rental income, it would be almost completely sustainable. But, I suppose eventually I'd get bored and have to leave. Whatever, I'm keeping this idea in the back of my mind for sure, I could definitely stay there for a month in peace and absolute quiet, talking to random hotel guests through our apps.

Thawing out on the new bus to Qikou

Thawing out on the new bus to Qikou


Qikou

Qikou


Qikou

Qikou


The hike to Lijiashan

The hike to Lijiashan


The hike to Lijiashan

The hike to Lijiashan


Lijiashan

Lijiashan


Lijiashan

Lijiashan


Lijiashan

Lijiashan


Me vs. Lijiashan

Me vs. Lijiashan


Lijiashan

Lijiashan


Lijiashan

Lijiashan


Lijiashan

Lijiashan


Lijiashan sunset

Lijiashan sunset


Lijiashan sunset

Lijiashan sunset


Lijiashan

Lijiashan


Lijiashan

Lijiashan


Lijiashan hotel

Lijiashan hotel


Lijiashan hotel courtyard

Lijiashan hotel courtyard


My cave room with kang bed

My cave room with kang bed


My cave room

My cave room


Hoteliers

Hoteliers


Guy stole my camera

Guy stole my camera


Hoteliers

Hoteliers


Guy who stole my camera

Guy who stole my camera


Kang bed

Kang bed


Cat

Cat


Me and cat

Me and cat


Stolen camera

Stolen camera


Stolen camera

Stolen camera


Stolen camera

Stolen camera


Night time in the courtyard

Night time in the courtyard

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login