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Published: September 5th 2010
We left Chendgu on a bus headed for Emei, close to the base of the sacred mountain Emei Shan. It took about three hours, but is supposed to take two, we just got stuck in traffic. Needless to say there was lots of horn beeping on the way. If you have any kind of nervous disposition, do not travel in China, especially on the roads - with horns beeping all the time I find myself in a general sense of alarm. I'm used to alarms having the meaning of danger, rather than "move over I'm coming through no matter what!" You're also lucky if you get a bus with seatbelts!
We took a cab to the teddy bear hostel and soon set off for the scenic area at the base of the mountain whilst it was nice and sunny. We visited the Baguo monastery which was fantastic and very big. Monks were walking around, and people were worshipping, it was a very active place and we enjoyed just watching all the people coming and going, lighting candles and burning incense. There were so many old ladies there too! In one temple, there was a monk walking round
and round winding through each row of kneeling pads, carrying a bell that he rang in rhythm to the chant he was singing, and he was followed by a string of fellow worshippers all singing repetitively. It was fascinating to watch. I did however, spend the next two weeks trying to get rid of that same repetitive chant that was going round in my head and I couldn't stop humming!
We walked on to the Fuhu monastery by the creek which was a beautiful place for a monastery and very peaceful, surrounded by trees and with a great view of the mountain. It is also a place where visitors can stay overnight. Inside the worship hall there were lots of female monks wearing yellow and chanting. In the arhat hall were hundreds of Buddhas all with different expressions, which to the untrained eye looked quite bizarre but the locals knew what they were and which ones they wanted to worship. At the end of the day the monks were going about their business and chatting, washing dishes, it was nice to see, but not a lifestyle for me I think!
The temples and monasteries all shut at around
5.30pm so after looking at one last 12,000kg bell we headed back to the small town of Baguo where we were staying and went in search of dinner. We ordered a sweet and sour fish which actually meant that we had to go and choose a fish ourselves! David pointed to "Charlie" as he became known, who was swimming around in the fish tank, and fifteen minutes later, Charlie was laying on a platter with deep fried fins and edges, topped with ginger and corriander, and he was no longer swimming in water, but in sweet and sour sauce! Poor Charlie, but he was delicious!!
Mid-dinner, we heard clucking as a chicken was carried by the wings through the restaurant to a customer outside. Clearly he was not good enough as he was returned through the restaurant and another bird was carried through clucking away! This one was acceptable it seems, as ten minutes later a bowl of fresh diced chicken meat was handed to the chef! Only in China!
I jumped out of bed at 8am as we had been planning on an early start...dressed and ready to go hiking, sun cream on, looking
forward to breakfast, I came out of our window-less room to find that there was in fact no sun, and just a torrential down pour! The weather was against us! We ate breakfast in the hope that it might calm down, but it was just constant and very heavy rain. Going up to an altitude of 3000m in this kind of weather was not appealing, and not very sensible either - we had planned to hike the 4km to the summit. I doubt we would have been able to see anything from the top either with such a cloudy day. It turned into a day for blogging and reading, watching the rain that denied us our mountain ascent, and organising the rest of our trip. We did receive the good news that we could take the train to Lhasa rather than having to fly. We wanted to take the train because it allows more time for acclimatisation, and it is the worlds highest railway so we were hoping for some spectacular views.
We went for a walk in the drizzle once the rained had eased off a bit in the afternoon, and we could hardly see the mountains in
the distance we had seen the day before. The river through town was so high as well...definitely not a day destined for mountain climbing sadly.
A little extra....
One thing I've noticed on my way round China is that they love a hard bed....no soft mattresses, and this fits well with the fact that they seem to be able to sleep anywhere! In particular I loved the lady who had laid down newspaper on the concrete floor of Suzhou station and sprawled out on her back to lay down to sleep! I wish I'd taken a photo, it was so funny....not sure where else in the world I could imagine someone setting up bed at four in the afternoon on a newspaper to wait for a train!
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