Woke up grumpy and restless. I wanted to explore new territory. Nate suggested we climb the mountain by our house again. My mood improved significantly once we reached the network of gardens. We walked out onto the rocky outcrop in front of the mountain. It put us garden central, a prime view of the maze below us.
To my surprise the gardens were abuzz with life. Although most of the vines were now withered and dead every garden was being worked. The dirt was plowed and seeds were being placed in the ground. Must be some sort of winter plant.
We made a discovery on our way up, stairs! Turned out there was a proper path! Along the trail we found freshly placed yellow papers. We’d seen people burning similar papers in the streets the day before. Nate had been warned by a friend that if he saw this happen while he was in China that he shouldn’t pee on them! We know this paper burning tradition is some sort of honorary tradition to the dead, but when we’d asked Sonya why the papers were being burned she’d told us she didn’t know of a special occasion on that day, but that she thought it had something to do with out mountain, which is apparently a tomb for WWII soldiers. When we got to the top of the mountain we practiced our Tai Chi moves, and then exchanged moves using out knowledge of Muay Thai and Jujitzu.
My mood, which had been raised by our hike, quickly plummeted again when I found myself stuffed back behind a desk in our crowded, messy office. Growing up in a multicultural country, I was taught to be careful with my language and to be open to differences in those around me. In my province racial slurs are rarely used as more then a joke. My western colleagues, though they are the minority in this culture, spent much of the day bashing other cultures, and despite their constant complaints about their own country, talked it up to make it sound like it should be the basis of the world. They continually built and fed off of each others comments. I’d had enough when they brought Canada into the conversation, making my own country and culture sound like a joke. The headache of understanding a “save face” society seemed like a minor thing when compared to such a level of disrespect.