Monasteries and monkey s*x!

Trip Start Aug 07, 2011
Trip End Jul 14, 2012

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Where I stayed
Bao Guo Si Monastery

Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Friday, May 25, 2012

Hiya, Fran here today.

So after our long, exciting day of pandas and the big (slight understatement!) Buddha we carried on our journey in the private bus to Emeishan, where we were going to be staying in a monastery.

We rocked up to the monastery and met our local guide, Patrick. He showed us to our rooms and around the facilities of the monastery. I was really excited about this part of the tour - when else are we ever going to stay in a beautiful Buddhist monastery?

The monastery didn't disappoint. It was a gorgeous complex of colourful temples with the accommodation at the back. The rooms were surprisingly spaciously and well kitted out and the bathrooms were basic but at least had hot water, which was a result. I was really looking forward to waking up to the chanting of the monks at dawn.

After we settled in we all went into the small town down the hill from the monastery and had a really nice Chinese dinner. We had had an awful,  very greasy lunch and this dinner was probably one of the nicest Chinese dinners we'd had in China! Chinese food has been a bit disappointing so far but the further south we travel the less greasy and better it's becoming!

Anyway, the next day after waking up to the magical sounds of the chanting monks, we went for a hike up the Mount Emei. We had to wait to see what the weather was like before deciding if we were going to go up to the peak or stay around the more scenic route around the middle of the mountain range. The weather was pretty rubbish as it was grey and mizzling but we decided to go ahead with the mid-level hike so we caught a bus up to the middle station. Most of the group had decided against it but a few of us were to brave it out.

The bus ride up to the starting point was lovely and very picturesque. It followed the gorge through the mountains so it reminded us a bit of the Ho Chi Minh trail in Vietnam. When we got off the bus the rain got a bit heavier so we had to don our very fetching plastic ponchos - I was a bit nervous that this whole 4 hour hike would be soggy and awful.

We started the hike which was a walk up some stairs and were passed by a few locals who had decided to hire some guys to run them up the stairs in a carry-chair type thing. We had to admire these men - literally running up dozens of stairs carrying a heavy guy between them! Hard way to earn a living...

As we climbed higher we lucked out and the weather got better and better. We walked through some lovely forest areas with high skinny trees and walked past some amazing carved pictures in the rock faces too. There had been a couple of land slides which partially destroyed some, but it made it more like something out of a Chinese tomb raider. Some of the details of the carvings were exquisite.

After the forest we came to a pretty gorge and followed the pathway through to the monkey area. Stoney, our guide, refused to go in because he said a couple of monkeys had jumped on his head - twice in one day - so he chickened out and left us to it. There were monkey-keepers there so we didn't  think it would be that bad.

The first thing we saw when we came to the area were a whole bunch of monkeys on the rocks and in the trees. There was a loop track to follow through the monkey zone so we started out on one of the wooden bridges. The next thing we know, there's a monkey in front of me, mugging a poor Chinese tourist! Literally! The monkey jumped up onto the bridge, delved into the poor guy's pockets and robbed him of his cigs and lighter! We couldn't believe our eyes! These monkeys turned out to be the most aggressive monkeys we've ever seen. There were so many of them fighting, grabbing tourists' legs and bags, trying to steal food/water or anything they could get their hands on! We made our way through the area and to be honest I was keen to get out of there ASAP! One of them did try to go for me but I shouted at him and scared him off! I was a bit naughty really because you're not supposed to show aggression as they can retaliate and be very aggressive back, but it was just my instinct and luckily that one wasn't a fully grown one so he was probably a bit surprised. Andy, who absolutely loves monkeys, was in his element taking lots of photos and laughing at their behavior. One monkey did actually jump on Chris' head, a guy we became friends with on the tour. Chris had a backpack on and the monkey was trying his hardest to get into it, even biting the top of it! Luckily, one of the guides told Chris to bend down on the ground and the monkey gave up and jumped off. Now we understood why Stoney didn't want to come in!

Outside the monkey area we all compared photos and laughed at what had happened to Chris. I thought I had 'photo of the day' with the mugger-monkey... sadly not. Guenther, a guy from Swizerland, got one of the best pictures we've ever seen... A couple of monkeys caught in the midst of passion, with HUGE smiles on their faces! Best picture ever! Haha! (Which is why the blog is so late as we had to wait to receive this epic photo!)

We started to make our way back down through the gorge, which was a lovely part of the walk, and back to the bus to our monastery.

That evening we did some job hunting and then had our last night in the monastery. Ideally, we would have loved to have one more day in the monastery so we could have experienced more of the monastery life, and maybe participate in some of the activities but unfortunately I guess that's one of the downsides of being on a tour. It has been a wonderful experience though and I'm so glad we did it!

Next stop, the Yangtze River!

See you next time!

Mrs. M xx
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