Tài Shān information
Southern Chinese claim 'myriad mountains, rivers and geniuses' while Shandong citizens smugly contest they have 'one mountain, one river and one saint', implying they have the last word on each: Tai Shan (the most revered of China's five sacred Taoist peaks, and the most climbed mountain on earth), Huang He (the Yellow River) and Confucius .
Tai Shan is a unique experience - its supernatural allure attracts the Chinese in droves. Bixia, the Princess of the Azure Clouds, a Taoist deity whose presence permeates the temples dotted along the route, is a powerful cult figure for the rural women of Shandong and beyond. Tribes of wiry grandmothers - it's said that if you climb Tai Shan you'll live to 100 - trot up the steps with surprising ease, their target the cluster of temples at the summit where they burn money and incense, praying for their progeny. Sun worshippers muster wide-eyed on the peak, straining for the first flickers of dawn.In ancient Chinese tradition, it was believed that the sun began its westward journey from Tai Shan.
From its heights Confucius uttered the dictum 'The world is small'; Mao lumbered up and declared 'The east is red'. You too can climb up and say 'I'm knackered'.
Avoid coinciding your climb with the public holiday periods held in the first weeks of May and October, otherwise you will share the mountain with what the Chinese call 're'n shan re'n havi' - literally a 'mountain of people and a sea of persons.'