Emei Shan mountain

Trip Start Mar 31, 2010
Trip End Mar 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Sunday, September 12, 2010

As a side trip from Chengdu, we went to Leshan to see the world's largest carved Buddha statue (there seem to be a lot of different 'largest Buddha' categories), which is 71m high and carved out of a cliff face.  Sadly you are aren't allowed to clamber over the toes, because they were certainly big enough to accomodate a few people lying down. 

From there we went to Emei Shan, which is a Buddhist holy mountain, and has many monasteries on the route to the top.  In a very Chinese way, it also has a road with 3 bus stations on the way up, and then a cable car to the summit from the last stop.  Of course the view is much better if you walk up, so we planned to do that, and stay overnight in one of the monasteries. 

Setting off from the base in the morning was very pleasant and the path was very picturesque, but it soon became apparent that it was a paved path, mostly of stone steps all the way to the summit.  Most of the other visitors are in large tour groups, and they go by road to a certain point and then walk down.  As we were struggling up the stairs on a very hot and humid day, we were fighting our way through hordes of people skipping down stairs, some smiling, some looking at us as though we were mad, and some actually taking photos of us.  This wasn't especially enjoyable, and since we both had a bit of a cold and felt pretty tired, we decided after a couple of hours of walking to get the bus to the last bus station and then walk to the top from there, which was a much cooler and less crowded climb through the clouds.  The summit at 3099m was above the clouds and had a huge golden Buddha statue and a golden temple.
On the way back down we saw several buddhist monks on their way up who were prostrating and praying every few steps.  At the other end of the scale, there was a relatively flat 1.5km walk from the bus station to the base of the cable car, and we saw one fairly young couple each being carried up in a litter carried on 2 men's shoulders, which horrified us. 
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