Easter Sunday dawned gloomily, an oppressive blanket of gray thrown over the city. A year ago, if you had told me I would be spending my next Easter in China with all Chinese people, I would not have believed you. But here I was. We were all up at 6AM, and out climbing a mountain by 7:45, as is the Chinese way. Chinese people rise with the sun, and often hike at absurdly early hours of the day. I didn’t mind though, as I love hiking, and we were beating the crowds–though it was amazing how many people were already there at 7:45AM.
My legs were already tired from the day before, but I made it up the hundreds of steps with little difficulty. At the top, we were greeted with this beautiful view…
There were Buddhist inscriptions carved into the mountain, and people used red ribbon to make prayer wishes for long life and prosperity.
As foreigners who are willing to go against the norm and explore, as well as foreigners who don’t understand the tour guide, Joel and I broke away from the group. We cut behind a vendor stall and discovered an old, non-developed path that led away from the crowds and out onto a beautiful rocky outcropping.
Again, we made it back to the bus with one minute to spare, and, again, it was totally worth it. I’ve learned in my years of travel that you discover the best places when you go off the beaten trail.
The final stop on our tour was a historical old street in Weifang’s city center, with vendors and food stalls. There were people selling all kinds of interesting things. When I saw this street, I thought, this is what people think of when they think of China.
As a foreigner in China, it is not unusual for people to ask to take pictures with you, or to say hello as they pass by. In Weifang, however, the phenomenon was even more pronounced, because Weifang is not exactly a tourist destination for foreigners. As we passed by, children would say with hushed or not so hushed awe “waiguoren” or “laowai,” the Chinese words for foreigners. On the old street, a boy of about 13 stopped maybe five feet away and gave us a complete once over. Giggling teenage girls would stand behind us, working up the courage to ask for a picture. One time, a group of parents and children were walking behind us and we heard excited whispers of “laowai, laowai!” so we turned around and said “nali?” (where?) while looking around excitedly. That got a chorus of laughs. I don’t mind the attention, and mostly find it amusing, as well as a neat way to interact with Chinese people. My picture is now floating around Chinese internet on around fifty different Chinese people’s pages after living for six months in China.
As far as Easters go, it was certainly a unique way to spend one. I learned a lot on this trip, bonding more with my coworkers, and experiencing a city I would be unlikely to visit on my own. I found that this tour has taught me to understand Chinese tourists in America more, because I have now seen the Chinese travel style. In all, it was a great weekend, full of experiences I will never forget.