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.
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.
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.
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.