China Tour Day 8: Mt Emei

Saturday 10th August 2013

Today we are off to see the ‘Good Wish Buddha’ on the top of Mount Emei. It is at an elevation of 3078 m and is one of four of the most holy Buddha sites. Patrick our guide told us that the character for ‘Em’ means female and that ‘ei’ is eyebrow, so therefore Emei means female eyebrow. This seemed a little odd to me but he never elaborated on why this was the case.

We had to get a bus from the bus station to take us up to the top of the mountain. At times you were in fear for your life as the driving was crazy. Firstly we were in an old worn out bus that didn’t sound like it would make it out the station let alone up the mountain. Secondly the driver thought he owned the road so was constantly honking his horn and overtaking other vehicles – mopeds were not so bad but coaches were scary. Thirdly (and also finally) the road was extremely windy – think the end of the film “Italian Job” and this will give you some idea. Half way up we even had to stop to let the brakes cool down. How we made it to the top I will never know – maybe we had all used up our ‘good wish’ already!

Walking up was extremely busy (not to mention steep) plus you had to be careful of the wild monkeys. On top of this I had some very painful mosquito bites on my leg so thought I would opt for the cable car up part of the journey instead. It was even more scary than the drive up as we were enclosed in a pod and went up this last stretch in the mist. At one point it just stopped and we just hung there swinging gently and it was eerily quiet. Outside you could see absolutely nothing but pure whiteness. I was actually starting to worry until it started moving again and was only completely content when I got out onto land again at the top. The last small section we walked up we did see a monkey. It was big and brown but I am unsure as to what type it was.

Once at the Golden Summit, the mist began to clear which was extremely good luck for us. On either side of a giant staircase were marble elephants with gold design. At the top was a giant Golden Buddha. On the way up were more people lighting candles and burning incense. There were three temples in total at the top: one was gold; another silver; and the third bronze. The décor inside each temple was very ornate: lots of colour, lots of gold. There were some Monks inside and many more people praying. It was so busy inside and not what I had imagined. I think I had expected a serene and peaceful place for meditation and contemplation. It may have been like that on other sections of the summit but you couldn’t see that far due to the mist.

What happened next was a little disgusting but quite funny (not at the time though!) So as you may be aware China has these squat toilets which is thought to be more hygienic (I am still not convinced). If you have never used one before then they are exactly what you think – a hole in the ground which you squat over. Now they are generally not pleasant due mainly to the smell. Anyway, Jo and I were desperate to use the toilet after seeing the temples. We got in the queue even though the smell was overpowering and thought by the time we get inside we will be used to it. It was an open toilet block on a hot August day after all. Plus we were chatting away to each other in order to distract ourselves so it wasn’t too bad. By the time we got to the front of the queue we could see it was a lot more open than we had first thought – there were no doors!! Jo went ahead and nearly retched. Her classic words: “I don’t think I can do this, wait, I’ll try and back into it.” She then proceeded to try and reverse herself in but then gave up and ran out choking. I was desperate so went to check out the situation. What I saw, I don’t think anyone should see – a load of tissues mostly used piled up in one corner along with used sanitary towels! Inside the toilet there was a lot of waste. However, I was desperate and I just had to go – in terms of the smell it was no worse than some of the drop toilets I used in the National Parks of America!

As we were running out of time we thought we would get the large cable car back down. It holds tens of people. Plus the smaller cable car was currently not working. What a mistake this decision turned out to be! We had to queue for ages in a hot building with no air conditioning. The line snaked this way and that like the start of a ride at a theme park. I didn’t mind too much but Jo nearly fainted as she was so hot. I gave her one of my energy tablets and I think it helped a little. It was eventually our turn and I thought it would be a bit scary but it was ok.

Had a snooze on the bus on the way back down to avoid the crazy driving. I woke up just as we came out of the mist. There was a river which was strewn with giant rocks – it all reminded me of a hike on Trek America in 2012. Once back down we transferred to another bus and headed back to Chengdu. Dinner was in the hotel restaurant and included Sweet & Sour Pork which has got to be my favourite Chinese dish by far. Off to see the Pandas tomorrow meaning an early-ish night as I am sure that tomorrow will be another busy day.

Photos from Mt Emei – Day 8

This tour is a 20 day tour provided by Exodus and you can click on the China link in the menu to read more about my adventure. If you are interested in or already booked on this trip and would like to know more than please feel free to contact me directly.

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