How many minutes?

We’re climbing a hill today and it’s warm. A fellow hiker is coming downhill, and Eva asks how much longer to the summit: “Twenty minutes”, says the lady. After ten minutes of walking, Eva asks another hiker, and it’s the same answer: “Twenty minutes”. Another ten minutes of walking go by as we pass an unfinished temple — other people stop to leave a prayer. The third person asked, answers: “Thirty minutes to the top.”

Maybe it doesn’t matter. We’re standing near a rock that says ‘好运’ (Good luck), and several people take a picture of it — like a lucky charm to carry in their photo album. A guy wrings his drenched t-shirt and tells us we’ll meet a monk soon. And adds: “Also, walking slow is fine, in the end you’ll get to the top anyway.”

The monk is an absolute fake one. He gives his jacket to another tourist to wear, and invites people for some lunch. His temple is barricaded, and he’s here more to provide a place for people to cook lunch and entertain himself — rather than some blessings.

Close to the top, we pass two girls with white shoes and designer bags. “Argh, why do we climb this hill?’, one complains — and I can reconcile with the sentiment. But when you get to the top, everything is all right again.