Day 24 - Red Leaf Valley
We left our apartment at 7 a.m. today so we could meet with the other nine BYU teachers here in Ji’nan and go see the Red Leaf Valley. It was a long bus ride on an extremely crowded bus (after we were packed in like sardines, they started turning people away from the bus and wouldn’t open the doors unless someone was getting off). The bus ride took about 1 ½ hours and we had to stand the whole way. The Red Leaf Valley is about 40 miles away from the center of Ji’nan.
A young woman started talking to me in English and before she got off, we had exchanged Skype names and plan to contact each other again. Some of the other teachers were talking with other young people on the bus also. Even though we had to stand, all these encounters with the Chinese people made the ride more pleasant.
As soon as we got off the bus, we were not sure of where we needed to go first, but there were some very enthusiastic men motioning for us to follow them. They are the shuttle bus drivers that take you on the 5 mile journey up a very steep and windy road to the entrance of the valley. It was 15 Yuan per person to get us up there and with the 11 of us, it took two vans. I have learned to laugh at the driving of these Chinese drivers and so the drive up the mountain was a “laughing” experience. Arriving at the entrance we bought our tickets into the valley and then had to climb a steep set of steps to get to the admission gate.
|This was where we got the shuttle buses to go up to the valley.|
|The first set of stairs leading to the entrance.|
|This beautiful walkway was nice and cool to walk under.|
The Red Leaf Valley is called as such because the trees that are planted there turn red in autumn. It is still a little early in the year for the colors, still mostly green, but it is a beautiful place and we had fun exploring it. You can hire open cart shuttles to take you to some of the main attractions, but not us! We walked! We walked up stairs and we walked down stairs most of which were made of stone and uneven. By the time we were done exploring the valley, we were pretty tired. We also walked up the steps of the big pagoda and saw a Buddhist Temple.
|The men all said they wanted a picture of us beautiful women by these women and then promised that we could take a picture of them when we found the Adonis statues. We never found the Adonis statues....|
|One of the lakes up there. Looked like fun. If you will see the building up on the far hill, that is the pagoda we walked to.|
|David found a friend.|
|We were walking in this area and all of a sudden, we noticed that they were more than just cute cabins, they were tree houses!! We don't know if they rented them out or if they were for the workers, but it was cool to see.|
|More tree houses.|
|David in the stairwell that went inside the tree to the house.|
As we were ready to leave, we had to get the shuttles, at the same price of 15 Yuan to take us back down the mountain. No one felt like walking on that road! After they let us out, we crossed the road and had to wait about ½ hour for the bus to come. There were some vendors on the side of the road selling fruits and gourds and nuts. One guy had some shelled walnuts in a bag, about a pound and a half and wanted 25 Yuan for the bag. That made it about $4 US and they are very good nuts. Large and sweet! If you know me and how I like nuts, you know I am in heaven!
|Closer to the pagoda.|
|The view from as high as we could get in the pagoda. They only let a few go up on the fifth floor and we didn't feel like waiting in the line that you had to wait in to go up there.|
|The light green shirt nest to the blue shirt is me.|
|Just another beautiful place.|
|Shrine outside the Buddhist Temple.|
|There were more shrines inside of each of these buildings.|
As we were waiting for the bus, a guy who had a larger van (probably would have held 9 people compared to the 6 of the shuttles) wanted to take us back to Ji’nan. At first, he was only going to charge 80 Yuan for taking most of us back, but when we showed him the address of where we needed to go, he jumped the price up to 200 Y! We decided not to take him up on it because there were still 2 or 3 of us that would have had to sit and wait for the bus. He came back to us and said he would take us for 180 Y. We still didn’t think that was a good enough deal when you can ride the bus for 3 Y a person, so we ignored him and caught the bus.
We were lucky enough to get seats on the way back. We were pretty tired, but believe the whole bus ride and everything was worth the price it took to get there. We may go back in a month.