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Published: March 20th 2009
Sunrise at 3000m
16th March 2009 - Continued...
After arriving in the town of Emei Shan at 6pm, we took a taxi to our hostel for the night where we shared ideas with other travellers on our best route for the following day. Emei Shan is one of four Buddhist mountains, reaching a peak of 3,099 metres (which is 10,167 feet, and according to Wikipedia, twice the size of Ben Nevis.) The route to the top is scattered with monasteries and temples which you can stop into depending on your route. Because of time allowances, our aim was to reach the peak by the second morning in order to watch the sunrise. This meant that instead of the three day recommended route, we would have to customise our trip to be as efficent and beautiful in the time we had.
This was harder than we had anticipated and went to bed that night with no absolute definite plan for the following morning.
17th March 2009
We woke at 7am with the prospect of a full days walking ahead of us. After a breakfast of chocolate pancakes, we headed for the bus which would take us a part way up the mountain (700metres) to
begin our ascent there. After getting lost numerous times along the way, we were slightly weary of how our day was going to turn out. But by 9am we were off on our walk and our route started with a gentle walk towards our first stop, the Qinyin Pavillion. This gentle start lulled us into a false sense of security as shortly after we had stopped for the necessary snaps, we encountered the mother of all staircases. This staircase went on for another 7 hours...
During these 7 hours we passed through a number of temples and monasteries, always walking up through the cover of huge, dense, 500 year old cedar trees. After each temple we were followed by distant chanting which although we could hear, we were unable to trace back due to the gathering mist below us. This beautiful scenery however, was offset by the constant pain in our poor little thighs that stayed with us regardless of pace or rest-stops! (Of which there were many.) We want to make it clear here that we are not exaggerating; it was literally step after step after step. In fact, back at the hostel, on the comments wall, someone had
estimated that our route held 10,000 steps. Something to which our legs and butts can testify to! We stopped around 2pm at the 'Elephant Bathing Pool' to have some warming tea and a giant, energy filled, pot noodle at 2000 metres, where our breath became visible in front of us and as we left here the scenery changed. We may have missed the snow at home but here was our chance to enjoy some of our own. Of course, climbing steps covered in ice and snow is rather dangerous and so we invested in some make-shift crampons being sold by one of the hawkers.
We set our sights on reaching Jieyin Hall which sits at 2540 metres up the mountain as our place to rest for the night. We reached here ahead of schedule at 5pm - only 8 hours after starting! (We had anticipated 10.) On reaching our beds however, the effects of the day were taking their toll and the distinctly chillier air was becoming too much for our tired bodies. We headed for some food - and then headed to bed...it was 7 o'clock...a tough day.
18th March 2009
Our plan for today was to get
up at 5.30am and climb the final 500 metres in time for sunrise at the peak. On getting dressed and stepping outside, we realised we were without a torch and ascending the icy steps was just too dangerous for us. Reluctanly (ish!) we headed back to our electric-blanketed bed and snoozed until 6.30am when we hoped it would be light enough for us to start. Still too dark, we waited until 7am before deciding that if we were to make it to sunrise we would have to bite the bullet and take the cable car. Which we did, both secretly relieved that another hour and a half of walking would not be necessary. The sunrise was great and afterwards we walked around the Golden Summit taking in the different temples and shrines. With the snow starting to melt around us, we trekked back down around 700 metres - with shaky legs all the way - in order to take the bus the hour and a quarter back down to Emei Shan city. On the trek down however, we still found time for Hayley to be mugged by a monkey! (See triumphant monkey in picture!)
On leaving Emei Shan we
The Golden Summit, 3079m
decided to stop off at the town of Leshan where resides the largest sitting Buddah in the world at 71 metres tall. Its pretty impressive - and the number of tour groups there visting was pretty amazing too. We stopped to take in the sight but by this point were feeling the previous day's exersions and so headed back to Chengdu where we could shower and sleep, and eat and drink beer!
19th March 2009
We woke and packed up, and in preparation for our 18 hour train journey today, went to get some supplies. On the way back, we commented on how busy the traffic seemed and so decided to leave the hostel 45 minutes before our 1230 train was due - the train station is a 10 minute drive away. At 1210, we were stood in the middle of the main road, trying to hijack a taxi after 25 minutes of being overlooked, or taxis being full. At this point we were getting a tad nervous, but we somehow coerced a driver to stop (by standing in his way!) and made clear our haste! On arriving at the train station, with 8 minutes to spare, Daniel made
the rash decision of finding Pot Noodles for the journey....yet somehow we still managed to get on our train, 3 minutes before it pulled out of the station! We were not looking pretty as we slumped onto our seats! The train was a very pleasant surprise though; it was very clean, very comfortable and the other passengers were all very nice. This was our first real day of relaxation. We read, chilled, slept, and ate pot noodles.
We hope everyone is well,
Love to you all
D and H
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