Moun­tain porters carry on tra­di­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - HOLIDAY - By XIN­HUA in Ji­nan

Just be­fore Spring Fes­ti­val, Lu Hong, 47, shoul­der­ing a load of over 50 kilo­grams on a car­ry­ing­pole, fin­ished his jour­ney of more than 3,000 steps up­Mount Tai and took a wellde­served rest. As a porter on Mount Tai in eastern China’s Shan­dong prov­ince, Lu has to slog up the wind­ing moun­tain road two or three times every day dur­ing busy sea­sons.

“After work, porters have a drink or a cig­a­rette, but I don’t drink or smoke. What I re­ally like is lis­ten­ing to mu­sic and brows­ingWeChat. The most happy mo­ment for me is count­ing how much I can earn each day,” Lu said.

Mount Tai, one of China’s Five Sa­credMoun­tains, holds great his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance, and its peak is re­ferred to as the JadeEm­peror Peak, ap­prox­i­mately 1,500 me­ters above sea level.

The story of porters on Mount Tai was in­cluded in text­books in China’s pri­mary schools in the 1980s. Though they may fade into his­tory one day, they have been an in­dis­pens­able part of the cul­ture of the moun­tain.

In Lu’s eyes, the work is fine de­spite the low in­come.

“I get a monthly pay­ment of about 4,000 yuan ($581). Pay­ment of our salary has never been de­layed,” he said.

“Porters are not only trans­porters of gro­ceries but also the ma­jor con­struc­tion work­ers on the moun­tain,” Zhao Pingjiang, chief porter group.

How­ever, fewer peo­ple are choos­ing to be­come porters. The once at­trac­tive ca­reer is fad­ing into his­tory.

“Our team was es­tab­lished in 1983 when there were seven or eight porter groups. In 2000, my team had over 300 porters but now we have only a dozen,” Zhao said.

“We used to worry about how to find enough ac­com­mo­da­tions for them,” he said. “Now, we have to fig­ure out how to im­prove liv­ing con­di­tions to re­tain them,” Zhao said. said of a

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