Published: November 25th 2010November 22nd 2010
Last weekend the PLU group went to visit the Leshan Buddha and Emei Shan (Emei Mountain). We left Saturday morning and took a bus to Leshan. It was about a two hour drive and our guide played a hilarious mix of 美国音乐 （American Music) the whole time, so it wasn’t a bad two hours at all.
Leshan was incredible! It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (I’ve been to SO MANY since I’ve been here). Basically, it is a giant Buddha statue carved into a mountain next to a river. You can go on a boat to see it or climb around it. Our group got to climb around it. We came in at the top and climbed down tons of stairs to the base. It is 71 meters high (233 feet), so it is pretty cool to look up at. After climbing back up and exploring the Buddhist temples, we got back on the bus to drive another hour to Emei Shan.
Our hotel was really classy. We had all been expecting to camp at a monastery on the top of the mountain (thanks to our program director misinforming us), so a resort we drove to was a
very welcome sight. After a dinner of typical yucky/bland tourist food, all the girls in our group went to the hotel’s spa. Laura, Audrey, and I got pedicures (but in China it doesn’t include getting your nails painted. . .what?) and neck/back/head/face massages all for about 14 USD. It was so relaxing and so needed.
In the morning, we had to get up at 3:30 AM. Neither our guide or program director told us exactly what for, but they implied that we would be watching the sunrise on top of a mountain at a monastery or something of that nature. Instead, our guide led us across the hotel parking lot, up some stairs, and to a monastery on a hill. He banged on the door for a good 15 minutes. Finally, someone answered, saying to go to another door. That was strike one. Then we went to another door to find out that we had arrived an hour early. Strike two. We waited outside a temple for a while, and then found out it was the wrong temple. Strike three. Then we sat in a dining hall for a while. Eventually a monk opened the door to a nearby
temple and began doing morning prayers, but no one came to tell us it was what we were here to see. Our guide was MIA for some reason. Strike four. Soon we realized that this was it, so we stood outside while monks and some pilgrims/locals prayed. It was super creepy and we all felt like we were imposing—a ton of Americans standing outside a temple watching them do a religious ritual none of us really understood. It was also 90 minutes long and everyone was really grumpy from our whole morning ordeal. Finally, at 6:45 we got to leave and have the yucky tourist breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
Then we got on our bus to Emei Shan. We went for a bit, then stopped and got on another bus, which was a shuttle up the mountain. It was two hours long, and I slept for most of it. The bus stopped near the top, in a big touristy plaza with a bunch of restaurants and shops.
We started “hiking” up a bunch of stairs. Heeding all of our Chinese friends' warnings, we had planned to be attacked by monkeys, but we only saw one far off
Soon we got to another plaza area. From there you could take a two hour hike up the rest of the mountain or take a cable car. It was wintry mixing and beautiful out, so I wanted to hike, but instead our group waited in line for an hour to take the cable car. According to the ticket, it was the “most greatest cable car in China.” I'd have to agree, as it is the only cable car I have seen in China.
The top of the mountain was beautiful! It was cloudy, but the clouds were below us so you couldn’t see anything but white. There were also some Buddhist temples at the top.
Many people go to Emei Shan to make wishes and pray to the Buddha, and if it comes true they return to give their thanks. You make your wish by putting a lock that has no key onto a railing at the top. Maria, Audrey, and I all got locks and made wishes. It was kind of corny, but I did it because someday if I come back, I can go find my lock. How cool is that? The lock vendors carve your name and the date on them and I remember where we put ours so I can find them.
After that, we went back down the mountain. We got to see a monkey up close on the way! First, it was drinking a bottle of milk and then it started on some Oreos. Clearly the monkey has good taste. All the monkeys at Emei Shan eat people's food because the park doesn’t have rules about not feeding wildlife. Some even know how to smoke cigarettes! They also know how to steal iPods and other valuables.
After a loooooooooooooong drive, we got back home to Chengdu. After one final yucky tourist dinner, a bunch of us went to Peter’s Tex Mex for real dinner (chicken strips). Delish!