Published: June 8th 2006May 30th 2006
Another sleeper train, (ok maybe we moan a little but it saves on accomodation and it's nice to wake up in a new place) and we arrive at the foot of the Buddhist mountain Emei Shan. Before our ascent of the mountain we make a quick pilgramage to Leshan and the largest Buddha in the world, and boy this Buddha's big, carved out of the cliff face he stands at over 70mtrs tall overlooking Leshan with the laziest pair of eyes.
In discussion with the owner of the guesthouse we tell him we don't want to take the traditional 3 days to do Emei Shan and instead want to be at the top for sunset, planning ourselves a gruelling 10 hour trek in the process. The next day we are up at 6am to begin the accent to the top of Emei, over breakfast we gather our assault team of crack commandos: a Swiss guy who's just done a mountain in Hong Kong and two Dutch people who frequent the Alps and have themselves just been trekking through northern Scandanavia, it's at this point that our experience of errrrm well none, becomes a source of concern.
Off we set,
first problem, it's all steps, the whole mountain is one giant 3000mtr staircase and the pace is already being set by the Swiss guy determined to make an impression. Battling on after an hour we encounter the monkeys, and these are fierce buggers with one thing on their agenda, our provisions! 20 chinese people armed with catapults are onhand to give us a safe passage, but alas it's no use, as Elaine passes over the bridge one of the monkeys has a hand in her sidepack and is off with the much needed water! Noooooo.
So we continue, hour after hour, step after step, too tired to admire the monestries we pass high up the mountain, 7 hours later, oh my god, a shop, is it a mirage, oh yes, cold Pepsi please, have a sip and back in the pack for later. Ten minutes later we encounter another group of monkeys, only bigger and no security to protect us. I'm 10 yards behind Elaine when I see this full grown male monkey, the size of King Kong (slight exagerration) come running out of the bushes towards her, before she has time to turn it's dived onto her backpack,
out comes the Pepsi, top off and sits swigging my drink right in front of me! Noooooooo, not again. At least it only had eyes for the drink and not Elaine.
10 hours later we approach the summit, what a challenge, what a hike and our reward, the biggest building site I have ever seen, the whole place is being ripped down and rebuilt by an army of Chinese peasants. We walk over to our supposed camp for the night, the monestry, a building site, ok backup plan the nunnary, oh my god, another building site... fear approaches, we're going to have to climb back down and under cloud cover, all that effort and we're going to miss sunset. Out of the corner of our eyes, we see it, another mirage, no a tiny concrete weather station, our home for the night! Fantastic. Sunset was amazing, apparently more often than not the view is obscured by cloud, but this was our reward to offset the building site! Off to bed for a deserved nights sleep.
5.45am, this is supposed to be a holiday, we are up and out to see sunrise, again amazing, breakfast of chow mein and
we are on the bus back down to the base.
There are more photos below