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Published: October 4th 2013
Yesterday Tony warned us about the monkeys that live in one area of the large Emeishan tourist area. We are advised not to have open bags, keep hands out of pockets, and women are advised not to wear skirts as any such thing as the monkeys will think there is food there. The boys are advised not to walk closely behind a woman wearing a skirt in case a monkey lifts it (looking for food) and then scampers off, leaving them to blame.
Duly warned, we hop on a hair-raising drive in a bus to Wannian Temple (Ten Thousand Years Temple, so named because the empress promised the Boddhisatva that if she gave birth to a boy she’d build a temple that would last 10,000 years).The bus driver has the strange driving practice of driving moderately along the straights, then speeding up for the hair-pin bends. Sheer cliffs? Don’t slow down.
We take the cable car up, which is very peaceful with almost no noise apart from the sounds of birds singing. The overall area is quite large, with lots of walking tracks including a three hour trek to the top of Emei Shan, but we only have the
morning to spend here. Like many of the other places we’ve seen, a longer stay, to more fully experience the area, would be worth it.
The Wannian Temple and related buildings hold a range of statues of Buddhas and Boddhisatvas. The Boddhisatva at Wannian is holding a long pole-type weapon his shoulder, indicating that monks visiting could expect a free meal and lodging. This is a five-star temple. These are active temples, and many visitors are praying with incense, lighting candles, praying to the Buddhas, and touching the large elephant statue in the Wannian Temple. Joseph is fascinated by a bunch of turtles (signifying long life) swimming around in a small pond. He is also fascinated by all the money that’s been thrown in there too.
We take a half hour walk down stone paved path with many stairs to where the cablecar starts. We pass many old ladies selling incense and the like, and men offering palanquin portage. There is the occasional souvenir shop and many houses as this is a residential area as well as tourist spot. Some fascinating carvings can be seen on walking sticks.
Partway down, we run into heavy traffic: a team
of mules is carting sand up to a building site and the mules are working hard going up the stairs. It looks like tough work. We pass them without incident, then further along they pass us going back down again, each one with an attendant walking the donkey. Liam starts telling me about anacondas. Apparently with no movie channels in the hotel, the boys had been watching National Geographic. Here we are, surrounded by thousands of years of history, a different culture and language, and he remembers the detail from a TV program about a snake from another country. Maybe we should just get them to watch documentaries on China for the rest of the trip and leave them in their rooms…
Another short wild bus ride and we visit the Baoguo Temple. In this one, the Boddhisatva is holding a weapon that is planted on the ground. That means no free food, no free bed. “Zero star” (quips Tony).
Lunch is at the Teddy Bear Hotel restaurant, which aside from a western menu in many languages offers free wi-fi. It’s a very casual westerner backpacker type restaurant, with writings all over the walls from people that have
visited. I try a hamburger which has a deep-fried beef patty in a sweet bun, and the boys go for battered chips. Ky and I also share very tasty noodles with beef.
A 2.5 hour drive to Chengdu, where we enter the Chengdu East Railway Station, which is bigger than Perth’s international airport, and just as clean. It is very busy as today is the first day of the Chinese Golden Week. We get on the high-speed train to Chongqing without problem, in carriage one again but this time it’s the front carriage, although you can’t see out the front of the train. The train is quiet, smooth, and the seat are comfy recliners, in some respects better than an airplane. Shortly after take-off (or maybe more correctly roll-off), a lady comes down the aisle, mopping up marks off the floor. The extent that the Chinese go to, to make some areas clean is quite amazing. Attendants periodically come down the aisle to sell snacks and drinks. We’d picked up some fruit and snacks at Emeishan so we’re good.
We are met by another guide at Chongqing after 2:10. He bundles us quickly into a van and we
head towards the boat. We’re short of time as the boat departs at 9:30pm and it’s already 7:45. An interesting drive along the riverfront makes me think a stay in Chongqing would have been nice: the City has an overall population in the vicinity of 32 million, and the buildings and bridges along the river put on an amazing colourful display.
We get to the Yangzi Gold Cruises’ boat, the Gold 6 without incident. The guide arranges for porters to carry our bags down the large flight of stairs and across the gangplank, and books us in. The English speaking cruise guide, Cathy “with a C” meets us and welcomes us. Then things get interesting. It seems they have overbooked, or maybe not arranged the standard cabins and want us to buy upgraded cabins. In hindsight, we didn’t need to, but at the time it seems a good idea. Cathy and one of the Cruise berthing officers shows us a number of rooms and talks about what they have, etc. It’s a bit difficult and annoying but eventually its all over and we’re in. We end up in bigger rooms on floor 5, with access to the VIP dining
room which is less crowded, and in Cathy’s words we won’t have to worry about Chinese dining manners.
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