The Golden Summit - not so golden today
Emeishan Travel Blog› entry 99 of 136 › view all entries
It felt great to get a bit of extra sleep for once even if I did have to fall asleep to the lilting tongue of Mandarin speakers in the room next door to me. The morning came and I finished putting my daypack together and then took my duffel out to Patrick who had returned with some breakfast before we departed down to the bus station in Emei town for the ride up the peak. Patrick also brought us some monkey beating sticks (walking sticks) to use for the two days, of which I will explain the use of a bit later.
The sky looked disappointingly cloudy in town before we boarded the bus for the summit. As we drove up the road in the tourist bus a thermostat displayed the slowly dropping temperature and instead of clouds above us we were now driving through the clouds and mists as we ascended towards the parking lot on Emei Mountain.
We were jammed into the cable car along with other tourists for the remainder of the trip to the summit (about 400 meters if I recall). Here we had a bit of a scare.
At the top we were still shrouded in mist, but at least it wasn't raining. Those of us who made the trip to the summit, explored the temples and other buildings of the Jinding Summit, although we could barely see the impressive architecture a few dozen feet in front of us.
We were all still pretty cold and damp (and concerned for Katie) so we didn't spend an inordinate amount of time on the summit - just enough to see the highlights, before returning to the cable car for the descent. Back down we walked back through the rain and mist to the bus park where we found a small restaurant for lunch and then descended by bus to the lower elevations and another walk to a different monastery where we would spend the night.
When we got off the bus at the Wuxian parking lot, we found ourselves on a trail heading up towards Hongchuping Monastery. The first thing I noticed was that just like the short walk between the park and cable car near the summit all the trails were paved concrete through the dense growth on the mountain. And it seemed like every kilometer or so there was a group of stalls selling snacks and other knick-knacks to the pilgrims on the path. In fact to me the whole experience seemed kitschy - like they had taken this once sacred site and turned it as much as possible into a WalMart.
We passed by the Qingyin Pavillion after an hour or so of walking and still had another 6-7 km to go, most of it up the mountain. It was mid-late afternoon so we pressed onward knowing we would come back this way tomorrow.
Hongchuping was an impressive site. After the crowds and hubbub below, it was serene to walk among the quiet halls in the monastery after I had settled into my room. A short walk back down the trail (maybe 100 meters or so) a woman had a small restaurant (Hard Wok Cafe) where many of the people staying at Hongchuping ate. Surprisingly for this location well up the trail the menu was varied and the food excellent. After dinner we sat around and talked for a while and played some cards before finally calling it a night.