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Saturday, March 27, 2004

Today was a lot of fun,

I went with two of my students to the two stone Monoliths on the other side of the Mountains. It is still considered Chengde City, but I went a very long ways to get there, Thirty minutes by bus. It was a little steep to get in. Thirty-Five Yuan. Four Dollars, but it was well worth it. The two natural stone towers are huge. The stand side by side to each other. I am not sure how well my pictures are going to turn out as it was very hazy, but they were amazing. On the tops of the two stone towers were beautiful temples with Buddhas enshrined in them. You used to be able to go to the top, but they tore down the stairs last year when someone stole one of the Buddhas. The police managed to get it back, but they will not let anyone go to the top. I would actually be a little frightened to go to the top. We then walked on a wonderful trail that went around the side of the mountain. They have some temples carved into the side of the Mountain, plus there is a very large Sleeping Buddha on the side of the Mountain in a little niche that they had carved for it. A lot of people put sticks that they found between the cracks around the Buddha for good luck for their families. The higher and the closer that you can get them to the Buddha the better. I put many of the sticks between the cracks. Crack is not the right word. Between two rocks where there was a lip between the two rocks is probably better. We then went around the Mountain, and on the sides of some of the Huge stone formations are huge Chinese characters carved into the faces of the objects. It is something to behold. The mountains reminded me a lot of the mountains out west in Texas and Arizona. The Path was like the one in the Grand Canyon where when you look over the side all that you see is a long drop staring back at you. We saw all sorts of Amazing stone formations and many of them has stories. There was one of two lovers, a turtle, and a frog. We got back to the Pagoda then decided to go around one more time. This time, we saw another trail, but it required us to climb a steep Mountain wall. We could not do it with our packs, so one of the girls stayed with the bags, and the other girl and I climbed up the side and onto the trail. It was awesome. We walked along the ridge of the Mountain, and it was just like it Lord of the Rings where they show you the ridge tops except more desert looking. We walked for a very long time until we reached the highest peak. It was stunning. We could see many stone formations in all direction. We then went down another path. When we did, we saw an amazing monastery carved into the side of the Mountain. It was next to a single stone monolith, and it was incredible. I took several pictures, and we continued along the trail. We then got tired and turned back around. I loved walking along the ridge top of the Mountain. It was just stunning. We went back down and met my other student then went back to the twin Pagoda. I took a few more picture then we went to the Museum. The Museum was quite nice. They had two amazingly preserved Mummies of a prince and princess. They were in glass boxes. The
Mummies were amazingly well preserved. They were not wrapped like Egyptian mummies, but they had a netting around their bodies which worked very effectively. They both wore simple Gold Masks. It was very unique. They also had amazing recreations of the Emperors parade from Beijing to Chengde, and what his palace rooms looked like. I enjoyed the Museum a lot. We then came back to Beijing, and I treated my students to dinner. They took me to a really cool restaurant. It was inside, but they had these huge plastic trees everywhere that were covered in leaves and branches. They looked real and were very life size. Our booths were under the trees, but they were separated by a bamboo trellis. The lights were like stars in the trees. Then at the booth, the benches were huge swings which hung from the tree limbs. There for two people could fit on them, and you could swing while you eat. It was so cool. It would be an interesting idea for an American Restaurant, but I also imagine the insurance being very high for it as Americans are a lot larger than Chinese People, and I am not sure how much weight those swings could hold. It would hold me and an Asian just fine, but I am not sure how to big farm boys would do on it. The food was good, although they ordered another type of nasty jello dish which I simply did not eat. I took a bite and that was enough for me. I did enjoy the Chicken and Potato dishes though. We then went and priced fabric and finally came back and looked at some of my photos. They left, and I am a little tired.

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