Emei Shan (Mt. Emei)

7 09 2009
Emei Shan

Emei Shan

We went to the town of Leshan to get our visa extended and to spend a few days climbing on Emei Shan (Mount Emei).  Emei Shan is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China with many monasteries and temples on the way to the summit, which has been climbed by Buddhist pilgrims for many years.  Leshan is also famous for a very large Buddha statue carved into a cliff along the river.

Alexa on the trail 照片

Alexa on the trail 照

The weather has been overcast, hot and humid, and we were drenched as we climbed the stairways up the mountain.  The mountain was shrouded in thick mist on our way up, and when we got near the top all we could see was thick fog.  With limited visibility, we didn’t go all the way to the top since we figured we wouldn’t see much (although others we talked to later had good views).  The mountain has many nice trails (read: stairs) and forests full of cedar and rhododendron bushes.  There are many scenic monasteries, temples and Buddhist relics scattered about the mountain.  We stayed the first night high up on the mountain at the Elephant Bathing Pool Monastery, then hiked to the Venerable Trees Monastery for a second night before hiking back down to town to take care of our visa.
Fury bandit 照

Fury bandit 照

Before we set out on the hike, we were warned about the monkeys and everyone suggested we bring walking sticks (that would double as monkey defense weapons).  Unfortunately, the Tibetan Macaques on the mountain are fed by some Chinese visitors, so they lurk around the trails and expect food.  You can tell when they have succeeded in robbing passerby, because you will see a cluster of trash scattered on the trail with plastic bags, food wrappers and spilled food from their feasting on their spoils.  One group of Chinese we came across on the trail had a bag with incense and candles stolen from them, but we drove off the furry bandits with our sticks and they were able to reclaim their incense sticks. The monkeys are aggressive and have grown large and menacing from their diet of human food.
Elephant pool monastery 照片

Elephant pool monastery 照

We had many encounters with groups of the bandits, who blocked our path and demanded “tolls” by growling, eyeing our bags, and approaching us while baring their pointy fangs at us.  We had to develop our own style of kung-fu (Menacing-Monkey-Meet-Swinging-Stick) to drive them off, in addition to throwing handfuls of rocks.  We even met one poor Chinese lady with two very large bites with deep puncture wounds and bruising from a mix up with the nasty buggers.  Unfortunately, her kung-fu was no good.  Normally we don’t condone beating animals, but these monkeys are an exception.  We didn’t actually hit any with our sticks, but many rocks were thrown and we definitely used our sticks to keep them (and their pointy teeth) away from us.

Trail

Trail

We came to China on a one month visa, planning to spend two months here by getting an extension for another month while in china.  This is a common technique travellers use and we have read on many traveller forums that Leshan is a place where it is easier to deal with the Chinese security bureaucracy for visas.  The Public Security Bureau (PSB) is staffed by polite and helpful people who processed our visa in one day (it usually takes five) and they didn’t have any onerous requirements.  Some other cities require that foreigners open a Chinese bank account with $1,000, which is a huge hassle and a good way to lose lots of money.   However, we didn’t count on getting a shorter extension than we had hoped for, due to ‘political’ reasons.
Venerable Trees Terrace monastery

Venerable Trees Terrace monastery

October 1 is China’s National Day celebrating when Mao finally triumphed over the Nationalists and in a grand proclamation in Beijing, established the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) in 1949.   It is like a Chinese Communist version of our Fourth of July, and they have big military parades and everyone gets the day and following week off.  They also don’t want us laowai (foreigners) here for their National Day, period.  We wanted to get the normal 30-day extension since the visa is so expensive ($150) and adds an extra cost of $10 per day to our time here.

Emei Shan Pagoda

Emei Shan Pagoda

But the PSB seems to have clear direction to not extend visas past September 30, to ensure riff-raff like us are not in China on National Day.  We tried to ask for the 30 day extension, but we got a cold look and a great Communist bureaucrat  line: “You don’t want to make trouble for yourselves, do you?  Why not just get the shorter visa?” Then a suspicious look and “Why do you want to be here for our National Day anyway?” We took the hint and settled for a shorter extension, which still cost $150 per person just to be here for another 20 days (adding a cost of $15 per day to our additional time here, a big portion of our joint daily budget of ).  We had planned to go to Wudang Shan and a beautiful remote park called the Yading Nature Preserve in western China, but now we don’t have time to include these places.  Now we will head south to Chengdu to use up the rest of our time here on an abridged version of our travels in the south of China.

Sep. 10


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2 responses

23 09 2009
Darlita Lee

Nice website. Cool content.

26 09 2009
Christine

The views are breathtaking! The artistic beauty is incredible! I love the double bridge and the little shrine in between.
love mom

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