While I was taking a mini break and finding adventure in the Far East I had the great opportunity to make some new friends.
It happened at 11:30 pm at the base of a sacred chinese mountain. The mountain is called Mount Tai and for thousands of years emperors have been ascending the mountain in the middle of the night to arrive at the top of the mountain in time to see the sun rise. It is told that it is the most beautiful place in all the world to see the sunrise.
I met Amy, Helena, and Albert (who didn’t have an English name when I met him…so I gave him one :)) at the bottom of the mountain. The trio were university students from Dallion in China. They spoke English and after helping me find my way to the ticket booth, we started talking and they invited me to ascend the mountain along with them. What a great adventure it was. Imagine a deep dark night, a narrow steep 3 hour climb into that darkness. Occasional pockets of light filled with a vendor and many people resting... some looking near death. Then the air changes- it gets cooler and the wind starts to pick up. You are nearing the top of the mountain. After the final steep 400m of nearly vertical, uneven stone steps, you arrive to the top. We made stellar time and had a few hours to kill before sunrise. We were all so tired and so cold. We rented heavy communist-looking coats and hunkered down at the top of the mountain and one by one we fell asleep. Gently we were all awakened by the murmuring of voices from the surrounding people getting restless as the sky began to lighten. We peeled ourselves from the stone ground and stiffly found our way to the edge of the top of the mountain and we all watched the sun rise through the clouds and over the mountains to shine brilliantly over all the world.
On part of our trip up the Mountain Amy asked my why I travel to other countries in the world. At the time I explained that I felt travel opens your mind to what is possible in this world. Travelling lets you see the world in new perspectives, you learn much about who you are through these experiences, and its just plain cool to be able to see new things. She explained that her parents and friends back in her home felt that travelling was a waste of time. Now, a few days after climbing the mountain, I missed the real reason why I travel. It is the people you meet. I travel and explore new places because you get to climb mountains in the dark, you get to be cold, exhausted, sleepless, BUT: you get to share that amazing living experience with brand new awesome friends! Friends who you have to go out in the world to find!