Apr 9, 2012

Hiking with the monks and monkeys

This weekend Andrew and I headed over to Sichuan Province to explore the famous (to the chinese) Mt Emei. It is one of the 4 sacred mountains of Buddhism in China. It is not actually too far from Yongchuan but without our own vehicle it requires many buses and taxis. I've wanted to hike up this mountain and thought it was good timing as it is low season and it could be good training for the Great Wall Marathon in 5 weeks.

We left Friday after school and took a 4 hour bus ride to Chengdu (the capital of Sichuan). We stayed at the Traffic In Hostel close to Xinnanmen Bus station. We needed to get up early on Saturday morning and try to catch the first bus out to Mt Emei. This is a well known tourist attraction and in high season apparently becomes very very busy. We chose our timing well as already we had been forewarned that we might not be-able to catch the bus we wanted without pre-booking it 5 days in advance. EEk. we got lucky!

We got on the 7:20am bus and arrived into Baoguo Station about 10:30am. We were a little tired of buses and just wanted to start hiking so we chose to hike from there. There are three other bus options to get up part or most way up the mountain but we decided we should be hardcore:)

We started hiking up. The trail is entirely made up of concrete stairs and concrete paths and pass by many monasteries and temples. The first part of the trail was up and down. It was pretty quiet, as it was the furthest left route. Once we arrived to a section where the buses could drop off a herd of tourists it got busy but only for a little while... We passed by funny moneys that would follow folks with food, and or just ignore everyone and laze around on the trail. We passed through gorges, bamboos and a varying of plants, trees and rocks. There were bridges, rivers, and monks.

We decided to stop around 5pm at the Elephant Washing Pool Monastery. The clouds were coming in, the rain was starting to drizzle, and our spirits were lowering. Lucky for us once we stopped got our room, ate veggie food with monks and some other hikers, the rain started to really come down and we were immersed in dense fog. It was pretty awesome to stay in a monastery but it is not for people who don't like simple. The rooms were simple and chilly but with electric blankets, and tiredness from a days worth of hiking we were content and closed our eyes fairly early. It is a good thing we went to bed so early as the monks rise at about 6am. We decided to eat our own breakfast and headed off up the mountain by 630am.

We managed to reach the top by  9am, there was snow and glimpses of sun rays. We took the needed pictures and then headed back down in a hurry as there were many buses to catch to get us home that day. As we hiked down the chinese tourists were coming up in herds... It was a little insane and I was so pleased we got up there when we did... phew!

We managed to get all the necessary buses, taxis, subway and Mcdonald's coffee before making it back to Yongchuan that evening!

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!

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