It's not actually called Monkey Mountain, but Qian Ling Shan (pronounced tchee'en ling shahn). Qian is the old name for the province this mountain is in, 'ling' means 'spirit of' and 'shan' is 'mountain'. So, I suppose the most accurate meaning of this mount's name is: Spirit of Guizhou province.
There could be a really good pun in there because that mountain is where monkeys cavort freely, and humans are guests.
I was excited about this outing. I wanted to see macaques up close and personal. This was my chance!
And it was my chance to assert my independence from this family who assumed I could not so much as find a bus stop on my own. The night before, while making arrangements for this jaunt, I suggested meeting at the park – me from my hotel and them from their home, rather than my going all the way to Alan's house by taxi, and then going to the park together. Or, Alan coming to get me (by taxi) and escorting me to the park. Either way would have been circuitous and expensive. Fortunately, the family saw it my way and dubiously trusted me to secure my breakfast and find my way to the attraction on my own.
The only problem came when I followed Alan's instructions: take bus 72, ride 2 stops. The park should be on the directly in front. Eager to prove my worth, I rode that bus for 2 stops...
right past the park. I got off at the second stop and walked back, texting Alan that I was on my way.
Unbeknownst to me at that time, Alan's parents had taken leave from work to accompany us to the mountain. They are the epitome of kindness and gentility. Even though that very spirit can be overwhelming at times, I was glad for another chance to enjoy them. However, their concern that I was lost or worse put a damper on the outing. Alan told me via text message that he would come find me, at their suggestion. Fortunately, they were reassured by the pictures I was sending as I progressed toward them and Alan was relieved he wouldn't have to hunt for me on this exceedingly muggy day.
The only other wrinkle came when I noticed Alan's mom carrying a bag of snacks and Jared carrying a bag of full of bottled water, one for each of us. 'How silly!' I thought. 'My empty backpack will serve to unburden them so that they can better enjoy walking around the park.' Just before buying our tickets to the chairlift that would take us up the mountain, I unslung my pack and offered to take their burdens. Gratefully, they piled their packages in.
And then, they took my pack, averring that it would be too heavy for me to carry.
I tried and failed to keep my cool. After routinely being subjected to such 'concern' the whole time I have been in China and growing more frustrated every time I encounter it, I lost my temper. Alan's mother is older than me but nobody sought to relieve her of her bag of goodies. Jared is also a foreigner, but everyone seemed fine with him carrying 6 bottles of water. What is so special about me that I cannot carry my own backpack, loaded or not?
A slow count to 10, several times, and I was again balanced and agreeable come time to board the gondola that would take us to the top of the mountain. I rode up with Alan's nephew – Olivia's son. My backpack rode up with Alan and Jared in the next gondola. Alan's parents rode in front of us.
At the top there is a lovely temple and a viewing platform where one can get a panoramic look at the city below. Here you can see the pavillion extending down the mountain, looking like a dragon's back and the city, hazy in the background.
No monkeys yet.
Midway down the mountain is Hongfu temple, built in 1672. We contented ourselves with looking down on it; touring that facility would have cost extra.
Down, down, down the mountain we walked. Alan and Jared took turns offering their shoulders because a new and bothersome fear sees me tumbling down any time I walk down a slope; probably because I was down-sloping when I broke my leg year before last. And, my vertigo chose that most inconvenient day to manifest. As long as we had stairs to walk down, I was leaning on them – but asking them to descend at a normal pace.
I have GOT to whip this phobia!
After the temple, no more stairs or narrow pathways whose sides open up to nothing. The ground sloped gently and the way was wide and paved. I was OK with that. It seems to be paths/stairs with no guard rails that get to me.
Now we come to the monkeys!
There was one cool customer, perched on a trash crate, presumably so that he can have first dibs on whatever is tossed in. I dubbed him Case.
these frisky monkeys thought that man was a climbing post!
This thieving monkey latched on to a woman's purse, digging for snacks.
As Alan walked by, my pack on his back and his water bottle in the pocket designed for it, this monkey snatched that bottle out and helped himself!
Monkeys bite the bottom of the bottles they 'steal' and 'shotgun' the drink.
Indeed, outside of the aggravations heaped on, the shame of having lost my temper and a brief rain shower, it was a wonderful outing.