One of the temple complexes at the peak of Mt. Tai, overlooking a sea of clouds. I think this is the Azure Cloud Temple, a Taoist temple complex perched on the side of the mountain, just below the highest point (which has yet another temple at the top).
So mid-term exams rolled around, and as a foreign teacher I’m not required to invigilate, meaning that I had a nice 10 day break (exam week, book-ended by two weekends plus a Friday we had off anyway). I decided to get some more travelling done and tick off a new province on my blue and red map of China.
The province I chose was Shandong, more of a historical/cultural destination than somewhere famous for it’s scenery, and my first stop was Mt. Tai.
Mt. Tai is like the big daddy of Chinese mountains, at least as far as the Han are concerned. It’s not the biggest (that title goes to Mt. Everest, obviously), and it’s not the most beautiful (of the famous mountains Mt. Huang often gets that accolade, although there are many more beautiful, yet less venerated, mountains around) but it does have a unique place in Chinese folklore. It was here that emperors used to come to the gods and there are many monuments scattered about the route to the top that attest to this.
Mt. Tai reaches over 1,500m above sea level and takes a good four or five hours to climb, from the Red Gate in Tai’an at the bottom to the Jade Emperor Peak at the top. On a clear day there are views out over the ancient kingdoms of Qi and Lu (corresponding more or less to modern day Shandong), however I did not go on a clear day and so there were only views of cloud and mist.
The weather did clear up just as I was heading down the mountain to catch my train, and so I got this shot of the peak area, covered in cloud.
The Jade Emperor Temple at the summit of Mt. Tai, I started climbing the afternoon before, reaching the area just below the summit, where I stayed the night, just after nightfall. It was pitch black by the time I got there and I was soaked through (it didn’t stop raining the whole day). I completed the last 20 minutes or so up to the top in the morning, when the weather was significantly improved.
The summit area affords views out over a vast area of Shandong and supposedly all the way to the sea. Unfortuantely, what with the weather when I was there, the only view was of a vast sea of cloud.