Celestial Goose Trail, part I
So there I was, saying multiple times that I would not post too many photos here in my writings, as I believe the true power of letters lies in themselves only and needs not pictures or any other aids. This is perhaps due to the fact that I am blessed with a fruitful and unrestrained imagination and I prefer the unseen to things that are shown clearly and hold no mystery. At the same time, I love taking photos - not as much for myself as for family and friends, and all those who care to look; it brings me joy to know that others may take a little peek into my life here in the City, or see some miracles of nature I am lucky enough to have within a hand's reach. Therefore, in addition to stories which I still intend to write in a similar fashion, I have decided to dabble in a new territory, that I will call "Trails". Namely, I will take you, Dear Reader, on small tours around the place, showing the light and the dark of the City. Okay, my camera doesn't really take great pictures during the night so until I get something better I will probably have to focus on "the light" part. But, who knows where it will all take us.
I will start with my most recent discovery, a Celestial Goose Trail. Much of it consists of streets that I had walked in the past already, but it was the Celestial Goose Rd. that took me on a wild ride all around a mountain, hence the name. I can deifnitely walk all right, but somehow the combination of scorching heat and the road always leading uphill made it a trail not in name only.
From the beginning - that is the Flower Market in the Oil Press Town. I had not been here for a while, and felt a strong urge to reinforce my succulent army with some news speciemen. In the end I bought just one, as I intended to walk home later and didn't want to carry too much. That's how it went.
1. I have not seen the sky like this for a very long time - it's pure lapis lazuli. I suppose every photo taken on such a day must look good, nevermind what's on it. Here, though, is the side entrance to the market, the one I always take to avoid the "pet shop" section of the market. Seeing half-conscious cats and dogs in tiny cages set out there in a 31 degrees celcius is making me feel powerless; I can't save the whole world. This thought will stay with me me for the rest of the day, as in the end I do take the main entrance out. The mosquitoes are savage among the plants and I've no repellant. It's time to move on.
2. I make my way up the road that leads to the Guanyin Cave. For a moment I feel I could go and visit, now that the temple is surely open for visitors again, yet I remind myself about the mosquito plague. Clearly, my spiritual life is ailing if such a trifle deters me from paying my respects, but I decide to come another day. So, as soon as I can actually see the temple I turn left and start walking towards the River. There are some new buildings being built along the way, just next to this strange old one with deep blue window panes. I still don't understand why would anyone want to have foggy blue windows. I have been told they're just cheap, but is it really the case? Could be the sun protection thing? It remains a mystery.
The whole street is amazing in that it has some genuinely old buildings on both sides and a looks a bit like the City 20-30 years back. I can't take pictures of the oldest of them, as there are people sitting outside and even after years here I still feel it's a bit rude to take a snapshot of someone's house while they're quite obviously scrutinising your every movement. Or maybe, for the future's sake, I should not be so shy. This staircase picks my fancy, I did not see it the last time I walked down there.
On the right side theres a hill and a pagoda on top - I remember trying to reach it once only to find myself a bit lost in someone's backyard. I think they said the entrance is on the other side of the hillock? Worth checking next time I'm around.
3. I pass a traffic jam caused by some roadworks (here, of all places?) and now I'm by the River. The Eastern Temple looks more beautiful than ever. It had been my loyal companion for three long years, and now that I moved I miss it dearly. It was all planks and rags when I first saw it. Now it once again towers over the Eastern Mountain area. Too bad it will most likely be a gaudy karaoke or hotel of some sorts.
4. If you can't see much in this photo, don't worry - I'm surprised how little of the Celestial Cave Temple can be seen though the sea of green. I have a feeling last time I walked here I could make out the main pavilion - now I can barely see the stairs up the rocky wall that lead to the actual cave. This place does deserve its own Story and it will surely get one. I wish I had a better camera and could do close-ups, but I have to do with what I got. I'm now standing on the Red Rock Bridge. It reminds me of how I enjoyed riding my bike down the Eastern Waterfront, all the way to the Hot Springs every morning. Somehow it feels like a lifetime away.
I have been told that the River used to resemble a gooey sewage in the 90s, mostly due to chemical industry that thrived in the Black Land and all around the City in the decades past. All the factories are now closed, thankfully, and the water seem to look cleaner every year. There are, however, some eerie remains of the City's infamous past - should you not cross the bridge like I did today and keep walking, the road would eventually take you to abandoned chemical lab compound. It's nice to see the nature reclaiming what's hers, yet every time I see shattered window panes, pieces of glass sharp like razors, it makes my legs feel weak. There's some old equipment left inside for more adventurous souls to see; today I cross the river and walk the other way.
5. It starts getting a little bit difficult from now on - the road I take winds up the hillocks leading to the Eastern Mountain. Not my first time walking here, and this is indeed a nice shortcut, yet it's hot and there's a half-open putrid gutter on the side of the road which is giving me the bends. I don't stop for many photos until I see a group of boys with a kitten - first I think they might be up to no good and prepare to chase them away with my imposing presence but then I realise they've got a breakfast sausage for the little Orlando. The older tabby wants some too, but they both look like they're being looked after. That's some relief. I get some of the boys chasing after me for a while to say hi, and they eventually return to the kitties. I know there's a school somewhere up the alley on the right-hand side, but since it's summer break now kids run carefree without wearing their uniforms. I wish I could have spent more time outdoors during my summer breaks when I was little. For me it was always the sea, as I was a sickly child. And these days - it's only mountains, and I grew to quite enjoy hiking. That's fortunate, since there's a steep slope ahead of me - I walk slowly, to conserve energy. At this point I'm not even that tired, and instead of taking an easy way home I decide to explore a little and find a small detour - the Celestial Goose Road.
to be continued...
(games don't finish themselves so there's work to be done, sorry, stayed tuned for the best part of the Trail tomorrow)