Today sees the opening of the Beijing Olympics - the ceremony taking place at 8
o'clock this evening, the 8
th day of the 8
th month in the year 2008
Not really. In China the number 8
is considered especially lucky! May it be so for whichever athletes deserve to come first!
Anyway, that's enough on the subject of sport - a topic about which I have limited knowledge and in which I have even less interest - but talking about China
- and prompted by my postings about the so-called El Caminito del Rey
in Spain, and the film Man on Wire
- both Jen
have kindly sent me a set of photos of what is allegedly a Chinese restaurant where the food is FREE
you survive the incredibly perilous climb to get there!How
As it happens, I've received several e-mails containing these images over the past year or so - as, indeed, you may also have done - but, this time, I was prompted to try and find out a bit more about this dangerous alternative to popping out to your local Chinese take-away...
I quickly discovered that the 'restaurant' is actually a temple situated on Mount Hua (0r Huà Shān), one of the Five Sacred Mountains of China, located in the Shaanxi Province, about 100 kilometres east of the city of Xi'an.
Historically, Hua was the location of several influential Taoist temples, and was known as a centre for the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts.
The photos circulating are of the south peak route to the top and are, I find, the subject of much suspect or misleading information on the web largely originating from a website The Deadly Huashan Hiking Trail
, containing - in addition to a lot of sensational photographs culled from the www - a breathless (but suspiciously anonymous) account of how one couple - Frank and Laura - made the scarifying ascent. The 'story', says the website, is 'written by Rick Archer', though it is not clear whether, in this context, 'story' means the report or the Frankandlaura narrative which seems to describe two people with a declared fear of heights absurdly making this ludicrously unsafe journey...
The Huashan Letters
also appearing on this website question much of what is reported, but will also lead you - after almost as much scrambling as is involved in climbing Mount Hua - to two unquestionably authentic accounts: one by ANDRE HYCENKO
, shown here putting on a teeth-grittingly brave face...
The question that immediately comes to my mind is who erected this path - and, more pertinently, HOW?
Needless to say, that's the one useful bit of info you can't
find on the internet!
Anyway, another graphic account is provided by ROBIN ESROCK
- self-styled 'Modern Gonzo'
- who, while in China, decided to go in search of the location of those vertiginous e-mail images and gives a step by step account
of the route which led, eventually, to that far from mythical pathway in the sky...
Mad fool that he is, Robin Esrock also recorded his expedition on video!
In passing this little film onto you, I suggest that those of a nervous disposition might care to close their eyes; and would point out to anyone setting out to follow Robin's hike that - due to height-induced panic - he does, occasionally, give vent to a mild expletive!
So, hang on --- and watch your step
A final thought: most of the people who climb the south peak of Mount Hua are doing it for (believe it or not) FUN!
But, as Robin Esrock discovered, the local delivery men also use the same route...
Somehow, I can't see the local Ocado chap coping with that!