Mount Emei

Trip Start Nov 03, 2005
Trip End Apr 04, 2006

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Day 1

We left Chengdu and the comforts of the hotel and set off for Mount Emei in a private hire bus on the way we stopped off at Leshan to visit the Big Budda (yes it's very big) basically it's at the intersection of 3 rivers and this caused a lot of turbulence and fishing boats would often turn over and the fishermen would drown. To combat this he collected money together to fund the building of the Big Budda to calm the river and save the fishermen. Apparently this did have some effect as the amount of rock that was cut from the cliff and felll into the river during the 90 year building process helped to lessen the currents and calm the river.

From here we drove to the monastery at Baguo Si, it was somewhat basic as you can see and had communal showers open from 5.30pm to 9.30pm or 24 hr private shower in a brick out house (coal shed) unsuprisingly I only showered once in the 3 days and that was an experience. The choice for dinner was vegetables with the monks or a guesthouse in town called the Teddy Bear cafe, no prizes for guessing where we went for cheap beer and burgers.

Day 2

Next day we were woken at 4.30am firstly by bells and gongs and then by the monks chanting was actaully quite relaxing once they stopped banging the damn drums and actually fell asleep again.

Today we were going up the mountain and were armed with 'monkey spanking' sticks, apparently the Chinese tourists feed the monkeys and they now approach tourists for food so you need a stick to scare them off with.

We had to get up about 5.30am to be ready for 6.40am to have coffee and fried egg sandwiches (although the latter never appeared), Gini decided (as usual) to visit the loo at the last moment when we were already late, we couldn't wait any longer so the group set off on foot to the bus station. A short while later Gini passed us on the back of the local guide's motorbike and was whisked directly there while the rest of us had to walk.

Managed to miss the first bus but gave us opportunity to stock up on drugs for Gini and her cold then at 8am we caught a local bus up the mountain (only special buses and drivers are allowed to drive up because of the dangerous winding roads (oh joy). Sharing our bus were a group of (i think) Tibetan pilgrims, one of whom was travel sick for most of the way which was really pleasent. The scenery on the way up was fantastic and we drove for 2 hours up through the cloud layer and then it started to snow! We knew the weather in China was going to be cold but hadn't really prepared for snow up a mountain it was now we thought this was going to be a chilly experience. We were stopped near the top by the police who told the driver to put on snow chains, he tried for a bit while we messed around on the road and in the snow. As part of my continuning improvement to international relationships I threw a snowball at a pilgrim but he declined to start a snowball fight but thought it was quite funny. Driver couldn't get the chains on and he decided that since the police had gone he might as well carry on without them, saying to us that it would be ok.

Passed a bus coming down the other way that had skidded and almost slid off the road but this didn't seem to deter our driver who successfully got us to the top in one piece.

The bus station at the top was blowing a blizzard when we arrived which prompted everyone
to rush to the shop and buy gloves, scarves etc which helped a bit. There were monkeys sitting around in the carpark but I think they were actaully frozen solid as they didn't move very much. From here we climbed up to the cable car,I actaully felt a bit dizzy and short of breath while walking as we were very high. At the top of the cable cars took some more pictures of cloud and snow (as not much else to see).

Just as Gini decided she couldn't get any colder the group decided to get the (non-insulated) monorail to the summit. Spent 5 mins at the other end trying to feed peanuts to small squirrel type creatures which I hope we haven't turned into tourist muggers like monkeys. It was then a 10 min walk to the actual summit where some monks had built a temple, Gini was not overly impressed by the temple and the fact that it was -3 at top. I had to spend 5 mins trying to defrost her in the temple out of the wind.

In the monorail station while crowded round a single bar heater (to try and warm up) a couple of the girls (Gini included started talking mutiny and not wanting to climb to the 2nd monastery. I forgot to mention that we were all carrying day packs with enough stuff for overnight as the plan was to walk down to another monastery and stay there overnight, however as the weather was too bad, the plan changed to drive back down the mountain and then climb back up for 2 hours to the 2nd monastery.

The mutiny was launched and the tour guide agreed that the climb was optional, that was it Gini and Maree refused to climb anymore and while I was obviously happy to do the climb (yeah right) I thought it would be more gentlemanly to stay with Gini and get the bus back down to the first monastery. So while the rest of the group did the climb, the 3 of us enjoyed beers and chinese in the Teddy bear cafe, followed by an early night (as there isn't much to do in a monsatery and the warmest place is in bed).

Day 3

Woken up by the banging monks (again) but this time using my ninja skills I crept round the monastery to do some covert filming of the monks praying and then slipped back to bed like a shadow in the night.

Then enjoyed my first shower in shed, followed by (yes you guessed it) the Teddy bear cafe for lunch and lots of sitting around while we waited for the other s to climb back down. After we heard the tales of their climb I really can't say that we missed out by not going.

Day 4

We then caught a public bus to Chongqing which started with seat chaos of no-one knowing where we were sitting and then having to move a load of locals out of our seats, nothing like blending in quitely in the back ground.

On the way we stopped at what the girls described as the worst toilet ever! Apparently there were no doors and not much of a gap either side and the women waiting lined up in front of each cubicle impatiently waiting for them to finish. It's times like these that I am soooooo glad I'm not a girl.

Stopped briefly in a service station to enjoy freshly cooked noodles and the locals laughing at me trying to eat them with chop sticks.

Eventually arrived at Chongqing and had a mad dash to the supermarket by taxi before the boat left to stock up on snacks for the next 3 days.

We had to carry our bags across to where the boat was moored across floating pontoons which were basically a couple of planks with nothing at the sides to stop you falling in, as usual the Chinese don't wait for anyone and it was quite interesting to see them manover round each other instead of just waiting for the first person to finish crossing (as I've already said, not much common sense over here).

The cabins were sparse but nice to at least have a shower and not have to trek anywhere for a couple for days.
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