This is the split second before I realized I was being attacked. See the smile on my face?
Emei shan, or Mt. Emei, is one of China's holiest Buddhist sites. This 3000-meter high mountain in Sichuan province is home to countless monasteries and pavilions, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China.
I have been whining about how much I want to go to Emei shan for several months. Finally, my friends said "just go already," so I booked a flight to Chengdu, packed up my first aid kit, laced up my hiking boots, and set off. To the amusement and gentle scorn of my friends, I take my first aid kit on almost all of my trips - I'm the first to admit I'm a hypochondriac. But in my defense: the laughter stops when one of those same friends comes crying to me for rubbing alcohol, band-aids, and ice packs. Yes, that's right. You know who you are, you hypocritical users of my blue CVS First Aid Kit.
But that's besides the point, because this trip it was ME who used that life-saving pack-o'-fun:
Emei shan is home to loads of macaque monkeys. They carry their babies up and down the mountain trails. They
groom each other and hang from vines. They're so cute and cuddly and adorable and endearing and precious... right? Right???
Don't be taken in by their lies, the little bastards.
They may look cute, but they're vicious. Having run into a large group of monkeys on one of the more isolated trail areas, my foolish animal-loving self leaned in a little too close for a picture. The biggest monkey then decided to jump on my head. Still oblivious to its hostile intentions, I smiled and laughed. "Ooooo, it liiiiikes meee! It likes me! How cute!" And then suddenly - BAM!! It was scratching my head and neck and wreaking havoc on my hair. Another one of his monkey friends ran up and attacked my leg, clinging onto my calf and biting.
"F**k!! The little motherf**ker is on my f**king leg! Da**it, get the little ba**ard off!" I started screaming and running away, but it was too late By the time the monkeys acknowledged our retreat and backed off, I had scratches down my neck, bruises on my leg, and an interesting bite mark on my thigh. The moral of the story: macaques are not nice, and, as
Sunrise on Emei shan
The sky lightened through the mist on our second day on Emei shan. We stayed at this small monastery/guesthouse.
this hypochondriac notes, they may carry nasty diseases. So stay away.
But seriously: there is an obvious problem with the way the Emei shan monkeys are managed, which also ties in to management problems on the mountain in general. Here is what the Emei shan management recommends if you run into a monkey on the path (according to the signs set up on mountain trails):
Threaten the monkey with a rock.
I would venture to say that Chinese views of animals and wildlife differ greatly from views in the West. In the West, we are taught to see animals as lovable pets with lives that should be protected and treasured (this, too, can be problematic, as illustrated by my attempt to get close to the "cute" monkey). In China, however, animals are seen very differently. While there are exceptions to every rule, I'd say that the Chinese view animals more as property than as living beings, and treat them as such. Many dogs spend their entire lives attached to iron chains with a seven-foot radius. Children bash kittens against walls or tease puppies mercilessly. This is accepted practice.
When it comes to Chinese tourists encountering wild
The Line for the Bus to Emei
I traveled to Emei shan on May 1, a national holiday. Which was not very prudent... see this mass of people? This is a "line" to get on the bus to Emei town. I waited while about ten buses came and went over a period of several hours, trying to push through the mass of bodies for the next bus.
monkeys, the situation is no different. Tourists hit the monkeys with sticks, tease them, and feed them trash. It's no wonder the monkeys are hostile towards humans. At one point on the trail, a monkey picked up a half-empty bottle of Sprite, bit off the bottom, and sucked the sweet drink out through the plastic. The mountain management needs to take more precautions to ensure the health of the monkeys, as well as the safety of the folks on the trails. Perhaps relocating some of the monkeys off the mountain wouldn't hurt, or getting rid of the "monkey zone," a closed-off, netted area that traps wild monkeys in a small space with hordes of tourists. This zone is responsible for much of the trash and junk exposure experienced by the monkeys.
Yes, monkeys like Sprite, but it appears that Buddha is not a fan. Buddha prefers Pepsi.
At several Buddhist altars on Emei shan, pyramids of Pepsi and western snacks were stacked up on Buddhist shrines as offerings. While it is traditional to offer food to the Buddha, this was the first time i saw western culture so encroaching upon Buddhist holy tradition. What blew my mind was
Buddha Likes Pepsi
An offering of Pepsi to the Buddha on Emei shan
that the Pepsi was not offered by tourists or westerners, but rather by the monks themselves. Although I know little about Buddhism or monkhood, these offerings seem representative of a weakened Buddhist identity. I was disappointed to see that so much of what was once holy (and still is, to some degree) has been diluted and westernized.
- During a happy reunion with Libby, we stayed at a Hakka house in Fujian province. While the weather was rainy and our only toilet was a bucket provided by our host, it was still a very cool experience. The Hakka house, made of mud and glutinous rice, was 500 years old and resembled a kind of Chinese-style Colosseum. The house was round, with homes built into the walls. The inside was a circular courtyard of open space. An entire village could live in this "house," which is really more of a village fortress than anything else.
- The snowflake decorations have come down from my apartment door, now replaced with paper flowers and raindrops.
- Lychee season has begun. Oh Joy 😊
- We finally have rain, but now that it's here on
an almost daily basis, I want the drought back.
- The monkey wounds were not serious. They have almost disappeared.
Tot: 0.093s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 13; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0129s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb