Alright everyone so I’m getting married. I proposed to YeYe on Saturday, on her birthday, on top of a mountain in a place called Moganshan, China.
The day after we got engaged
Ok so it wasn’t on top of the mountain, technically it was next to the mountain, but I’ve been telling everyone it was at the top. The plan was for it to be on top of the mountain.
We were supposed to leave Suzhou early on Saturday morning, drive 1.5 hours to Moganshan, check into our hotel and head up the mountain. Once we got to the top I was going to pull the ring out of my pocket, get down on one knee and pop the question as we looked out over the gorgeous People’s Republic of China.
Hiking through Moganshan on August 2nd
Didn’t work that way. Truthfully, with me in charge the chances of it working as planned were roughly 0%.
At 9:55 AM Saturday morning YeYe came into the living room of our Suzhou apartment.
“Ok we are leaving in five minutes right?”
“Uhhhh, sure” I said as I looked up from my computer and wondered if I could be the first person in recorded history to take a shower, brush my teeth, eat breakfast, look up directions to some remote Chinese mountain and pack a bag, all in five minutes.
“You don’t look ready”, she said, slightly disappointed.
“I’m going to need five extra minutes.” She wasn’t buying it. “Ok maybe ten”. Definitely not buying it.
We got on the road at 11:15 am. YeYe had the directions on Baidu Maps. I had less than a quarter of a tank of gas, an Ipod from 2011 and nine fake Pringles left in the fake Pringles tube. We were ready for a road trip.
Myrna and Gary are very exited
After stopping at the gas station for food and fuel, YeYe put ipod on “hip hop – shuffle” and we were on the highway.
“This is dedicated to all the people who used to call the Police on me when I was just trying to make some money to feed my daughter…” Notorious BIG was preaching the truth as we left the outskits of Suzhou and entered Zhejiang Province.
After an hour of driving we were feeling good. With Tai Hu (lake) to the right, an endless run of smokestacks and pollution factories to the left and 100 degree temperatures beating down on my 2005 Buick Excel, we were in the thick of summer in China and anticipation was building.
Then we pulled off the highway and into Huzhou.
“I don’t remember going through a city last time I went to Moganshan”.
“Don’t worry this is a shortcut” she said with a half a question mark, staring intently at Baidu Maps.
“That’s what the Donner Party said before they ate each other”.
“Nothing. I'm sure we're fine”.
After forty-five minutes of Baidu Maps leading us into HuZhou dead ends and roads that hadn’t existed since the Hu administration we found our way back to the highway. We had gone 4 miles.
No better road trip companion than Notorious BIG
“I’m getting kind of hungry, can we eat lunch before we go up the mountain?”
I scanned the radio tuner and saw that it was already 1:15pm. Crap.
“Yeah. Let’s check in to the hotel, eat and then get up to the top”.
This was going to have to be a sprint up the mountain and a sweaty, exhausted proposal, but we could make it work. Is that what I wanted though? The big moment and we were going to have to "make it work".
Whatever. Sparks family ingenuity.
Tyler once had someone drive a trailor with a hot tub onto his front lawn so he could have a house party "to remember". Myrna once transported a plastic kiddie-pool by having 7 year old Turner and friends sit on one end of the circle while the other came jetting out of her convertable Lebaron driving 65 mph down the highway.
Back in his day this guy used to throw some serious keggers.
I'd figure this out.
As we left Huzhou and drove deeper into Zhejiang Province the lakes became hills and the smoke stacks became bamboo forests. The pollution was gone.
Mentally this is when our vacation started.
“So what is the deal with this place Moganshan?” YeYe asked.
Surprisingly its not unusual that an expat would know more about Moganshan than a Chinese person. I was excited to regurgitate the one book I had read in the past two years.
“Moganshan was developed in the late 1800s – early 1900s by wealthy European and American expats who lived in Shanghai. They needed a place to get away for the summer, they found this mountain and made it their Lake Tahoe.”
I continued “The architecture of all of the houses at the top of the mountain is clearly different from the Chinese architecture from the villages below. It looks very European. While Mao Zedong’s government eventually took all of the property and houses from the expats who originally built them, the original buildings still stand today and have been refurbished into hotels, café’s…”
“Wait what exit was that?” She said, cutting me off mid-sentence.
“I don’t know”.
“We just missed our exit”.
Ok. Plan aborted.
These houses are now available for rent on Moganshan. Four bedrooms, five hundred dollars a night for this one. Not bad!
Three hours after leaving Suzhou we arrived in Moganshan. By the time we checked in, ate lunch and put our bags down it was 4PM.
Too late to head up the mountain. Dreams dashed. Mountain top proposal over.
But it was her birthday. I had to do it on her birthday.
Luckily our hotel room was really cool and had a great balcony overlooking a forest. If I couldn’t do it in nature I was going to do it next to nature.
And like I said, it was her birthday. So I called her out to the balcony, gave her a birthday present and then said “Oh yeah and one more thing…”
And now we are getting married.
And we did go up the mountain the next morning. The engagement was at the bottom.
But if anyone asks, it was on top of a mountain overlooking the People’s Republic of China.
The view from our room at the bottom of the mountain, in the foothills. The actual location of the proposal.