Chapter 19 Traveling Notes

I looked at the location and found that Fatty was in the temple, but Fatty told me that he wasn’t actually in the temple. As it turned out, he was under the temple. Somewhere along the long stone steps leading up to the temple was a path that was only wide enough for one person to walk through—this so-called path was a small, walkable ledge sticking out from the mountain wall. There was a stone protrusion about every half-meter or so above this path that could be used as footholds to climb up.

The stone looked like it had been carved thousands of years ago, and the path led to the foundation of the temple.

Jila Temple was built on the side of the mountain, so in order to level the slope, the initial builders brought up a lot of rocks, abruptly raised the low-lying part of the mountainside, and made the ground level.

Anyone who has done construction would know that it was impossible to form a huge plane, but forming a series of terraced planes like terraced fields would work. These terraced planes would have to be very flat so that buildings could be constructed on them.

As a result, Jila Temple was spread up and down the mountainside. From the temple’s highest point to the top of the mountain was our cliffside hot spring while the lowest point was the temple’s entrance. There were about six or seven levels separating them.

Rather than saying that this path led to the temple’s foundation, it was better to say that it was a path the locals used to enter the mountain before the temple was built. It was the kind of path that herbalists who collected caterpillar fungus(1) would take.

It just so happened that this path now passed through the temple’s foundation. When we were in the temple, we walked to the edge and looked down. In theory, you would think that we’d be able to see the side of the foundation—like a tall wall made of stone—but the temple walls were so high that we couldn’t see anything.

From this path, however, it was possible to reach the temple’s foundation. I braved the snow to find the path, moving bit by bit until I saw Fatty beckoning to me from a gap in the foundation’s stone wall.

When I came to the gap, I found that there was a very narrow stone crack in the foundation that was almost wide enough to allow one person to pass through. “What the hell are you doing?” I asked Fatty.

“Just confirming something.”

“Did you come here to dig for gold?” As I squeezed into the gap, I found that the ceiling was very low so I had to stay hunched over. “How did you even find this place?”

“Just think about it. When we were digging up top and found those Buddhist ritual tools, we could see that both they and the stones were very old. I figured that meant that this place hadn’t been touched, but Little Brother said that they might have wiped out the gold in the 1920s. So much gold can’t be used up all at once. If you have to take it often, then you’d frequently need to be digging and smashing through the rocks here, which means that there would be traces left behind. So, my thinking was that if the gold was still there, then I could just pretend that I didn’t come up with any theories about it. But if it was gone, then it must have been taken from the side of the foundation, which meant that there was a secret passage nearby. So, I went looking for the entrance,” Fatty said.

I looked at Fatty while thinking to myself, ok, you must have reached a conclusion.

“The things are gone?”

“See for yourself.” Fatty led me through the gap in the foundation. After walking a little bit, a big space suddenly appeared in front of us—it seemed to stretch about six or seven meters both up and down.

It looked like we were in the middle of a well wall, as if we had opened a window to peek inside the well. The shaft to the top was about six or seven meters while the shaft to the bottom also seemed to be about six or seven meters.

I knew that it was right below our hot spring because we could see that all the stones were wet and I also recognized the smell.

I could even hear the people bathing above talking amongst themselves.

Fatty dragged me to the bottom of the well, where I saw that there were a bunch of metal rods as thick as a finger sitting in the stone crevices at the bottom. I pulled one out and knew right away that it really was old gold, but the purity wasn’t very high. The rod was a blue and white color, which meant that the gold content only made up about half of it, and there were many Tibetan inscriptions on it.

Although there were a lot of them in the crevices, I knew that as a whole, their value probably only added up to less than three hundred thousand yuan.(2)

A lot of text in various languages and from different ages had been carved on the slightly flattened stones all around us—they were basically the withdrawal records left behind by the people who took the gold.

Water kept dripping on our heads so we climbed out again. Fatty had wrapped a few of those gold bars in his clothes. He and I looked at each other.

“The landlord’s house also doesn’t have any surplus grain,” Fatty said to me. “I’ll take some with me as a souvenir for Little Brother.”

Maybe Deren didn’t want to give us any gold or silver and just wanted to tell us that there was some gold under the rocks here that we could take to pay the electric bill first.

“What happened to the stone pot chicken?” I asked Fatty.

Originally, the stone pot chicken was no longer important when faced with a mountain of gold, but now the stone pot chicken had become very important.

“Come down the mountain with me,” Fatty said. “There’s a new shop here. You have to try their chicken.”

“What’s it matter if the chicken in other people’s shops here is delicious? Our restaurant is in Fujian. Is there any competition?”

“Yes, of course there’s competition,” Fatty said. “All the materials for our restaurant come from here. Now, look.” Fatty took out his cell phone and showed it to me. I looked at the shop’s information and found that in addition to dining in, customers could also buy chilled stone pot chicken ingredients and stone pots.

The text on the webpage said: All of Xilaimian’s stone pot chicken ingredients are purchased from here. You can buy it chilled directly and make Xilaimian’s signature dish at home.

It was followed by a row of small characters below: The proprietress’s secret recipe can’t be eaten at Xilaimian.

<Chapter 18><Table of Contents><Chapter 20>


TN Notes:

(1) Caterpillar fungus (scientific name: Ophiocordyceps sinensis) is also known by its more prominent names dōng chóng xià cǎo (literally “winter worm, summer grass”) or yartsa gunbu. It’s mainly found in the meadows above 3,500 metres (11,500 ft) on the Tibetan Plateau in Southwest China and the Himalayan regions of Bhutan and Nepal. It parasitizes larvae of ghost moths and produces a fruiting body which used to be valued as an herbal remedy and was used in traditional Chinese medicine. Info here.

(2) About $43,311 USD.


Pic added 12/3/2022 (fan translation courtesy of me).


One thought on “Chapter 19 Traveling Notes

  1. Why I’m not surprised Fatty went after the gold? And took some souvenirs 🤣🤣🤣 He never changes. And that’s a good thing

    Si Xilaimian is really famous… I guess because Poker Face is the cashier

    Thank you so much for the chapter! I wasn’t expecting it so it was a nice Sunday surprise!


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