No words can describe the beauty of that dramatic, awe-inspiring mountain range. Unexpected but well worth it were the 8 hours on the bus (one-way) and the approximately 25 kilometers of elevated terrain we were ascending and descending all weekend. This trip was organized by Patrick’s segment, so that covered everyone from his Slovakian supervisor to the Chinese machine operator. It was a colorful mix of people and personalities, but we had a lot in common that weekend: the burning in our quads and the beauty of the peaks.

I wish time were not so constrained, and I could have captured my feelings directly after the trip. In hindsight, there are a few impressions worth mentioning:

– There is a real difference in mountain culture when hiking in different countries. Besides the obvious geological differences (in Austria, the mountains go up, reach a peak, and go down), there is something called mountain etiquette. In Austria as well as in the US and Canada, there are clear policies on littering as well as noise, respect the environment, etc. You may see a few groups of people on a hike, but never crowds. The attire is very sporty and casual – colors natural. Take a look at our photos in the slide show and you may be able to point out the differences. One thing is for sure: it was a lot more clean than Anji, but not because children didn’t throw their Coke bottles over the cliff while parents watched on, but because there was a large cleaning crew scanned the paths for trash throughout the day.

– There were so many people waiting for the gondola on Saturday morning that some of our group waited three hours to reach the top. In that time, we hiked. We were not prepared for neither the sleep incline nor the narrow paths often with no railing. In addition to avoiding all the climbers descending, we also had to be aware of the many small but sturdy, big-calved men carrying up to 90 kilos of hotel/restaurant supplies up the mountain. Respect. At one point, we were fairly tired and going slow, I noticed that one of the delivery men was just as fast as we were! I couldn’t help imagining their spines like in a sort of x-ray. I wondered about the kind of physical problems that would result from this kind of work. There are worse jobs in China, but this has to one of the toughest.

That is all time will allow for the moment. I hope I can soon also document my first few months at work and my daily commute to/from work!

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