Rounding the traffic circle, setting out for the mountains, some rays of sunshine broke through, and I realized, I was about to begin a vacation within the vacation. If ever there was a time to relax, it would be now. I stretched out in the passenger seat and started riffling through the glove box. I pulled out all of the CDs, three, and one looked like some music, so I put it on. My friend observed from the driver’s side, impressed with my new sense of comfort. I'd just gotten over the bad cold, and energy levels were still a bit low. We pulled over in Taizhong to look at a roadside sale of junk, mostly: incense holders, ugly tea gear, ugly carved buddhas. At this point, we still hadn't decided which way we were going, because from here we could either go to Dong Ding or Tai He. I've been to Lugu and Dong Ding several times, and Mt. Ah Li is safer for driving when there might be rain. We settled on Tai He, which is located in the interior of the Ah Li mountain range. But it was already late and we had to make haste if we were going to make our way up the mountain before the farmers go to bed. We turned to get into the mountains as fast as we can, and in our rush, we failed to eat dinner. We bought fruit at the outset, but it looked like dinner was not in our near future. I think it was at this point that I fell asleep.
Waking as we stop for gas, I realize that we have gained quite a bit of elevation. The air felt different, colder. “Food?” I ask, and the gas station attendant offers to make instant noodles. I politely decline. We come upon some buildings, twinkling in the inky night, and the wheels whine in a different tone as we cross the bridge to pull over to a parking lot. We cross the road just in time to see all of the food vendors closing up for the night.
Starving, we double back over the bridge to the first buildings we passed. We head inside, again to find that the food service is over. Finally, the bridge is crossed a third time, as we continue up the mountain. Several physical states were traversed to achieve the current mental state. This bridge we crossed three times to find a meal, yet none was found. Hungrily, we continue on in search of tea.