Taishan was probably the first real mountain I’ve ever climbed. Next time, I’ll make sure I budget enough time to get back down before dark.


Legend says that if climb #Taishan, you live up to 100 years old! #China #Travel

A photo posted by Monica Wong (@_monicawong) on

Taishan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the first mountain I ever climbed. The sky darkened and I was no where near the top. The faster I climbed, the more clothes I peeled off. I eventually made it to the top with my legs on fire to catch the last few glimpses of light. Looking down from the highest peak of the mountain, I thought to myself, “So this is what tall feels like.”

Coming down was a trip in itself. It took me four hours to get to the top of the mountain. Now, I had 30 minutes to make the 2-hour trek down to the middle of the mountain to get the last bus down. On top of that, there was nothing to guide the way. No lamps. No lights. No nothing. But of course there were plenty of shops lined along the steps to sell flashlights at unusually high prices.

I chose to improvise. I made my way down using the light on my phone. Now, it wasn’t a matter of time. It was a matter of how long the battery in my phone would last. It didn’t help that I was gasping for air. It didn’t help that my calves were cramping up. And it certainly didn’t help that others who were also making it down the mountain hovered over me like flies to honey.

I made it to the bus with seconds to spare and rewarded myself by stuffing my face at the first fancy-ish restaurant I saw.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.