Before venturing out of Chengdu city to explore the Sichuan province, we treated ourselves to a local hotpot restaurant across the road from our hostel. The province is home of the famous Sichuan cuisine and flaming hot pepper flavours. Now, we can handle chilli and other spicy dishes. But by-jingoes! Sichuan peppers are HOT!
While our flaming hotpot bubbled away, all of our fresh vegetables, noodles, seafood and other meats (of questionable body parts) turned into Sichuan flavoured mush. And biting into a tiny pepper makes your tongue go all numb and fuzzy. An acquired taste, perhaps better in smaller doses.
Our first bus trip in China was 200km to Emeishan (Mount Emei, shan meaning mountain in Mandarin). Emeishan is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China at 3099m.
Arriving in Emei city, we befriended a local lady who helped us find the right local bus from the long-distance bus station. When we get off, she revealed she worked at the hostel we were staying at, Teddy Bear Hostel! Nice!
The people there are friendly, the baked fish was delicious and it is by far the most popular hostel to stay at, and for good reason. Highly recommend!
There are a few ways to tackle the long ascent to the summit of Emeishan and return in a single day:
EASY – Bus 2 hours 3/4 the way, then short walk with cable car to the summit (a few hours return)
HARD – Bus 30 mins 1/4 the way, long, long walk up thousands of stone steps with cable car to the summit (pushing one long epic day)
One long epic day later, we reached the summit.
Oh wait, we saw some pretty neat stuff on the way.
Taking the first bus from the Entrance Gate to Wannian Bus Station at 7:00am, we needed to reach the summit and make it down to the Leidongping Bus Station at the base of the cable car to catch the final bus back at 6:00pm. The final 500m to the summit must be done by cable car.
11 hours eh? Challenge accepted.
We could have started with a cable car from the car park up to the first temple, Wannian Temple. However, having seen Karl Pilkington and Warwick Davis attempt this ascent on “An Idiot Abroad”, we knew there were thousands of stone steps to climb and we didn’t wanna “cheat”.
Pretty soon our challenge was clear. These steps seemed to never end. The higher we climbed, the air grew colder, the mist rolled in. Very soon it was snowing.
We passed sights as we climbed: Xixin Temple (1460m), Long Life Monastery, Chu Temple (1740)m, Huayan Peak (1860m), Jiuling Hillock. We had read about the vicious monkeys that plagued the route and attacked unwary walker’s backpacks and water bottles. But it was too cold today and we never saw one.
We wandered around the Elephant Bathing Pool (2070m) and found an elephant bathing in a pool.
The fog was thick and the stone steps became icy and slippery, making our ascent fairly hazardous. But we ploughed on. Time was always against us and we desperately wanted to reach the famous Golden Summit.
We reached the summit at 5:00pm, an epic 10 hour climb! Supposedly the view from the Golden Summit (3077m) is spectacular as you gaze down above the sea of clouds. Too bad we could hardly see a few metres in front of us today!
After an anxious wait for the cable car down, we clambered down the snowy steps and just made it with 5 minutes to spare for the final return bus at 6:00pm. We had stretched ourselves, but we had done it!
We proved it was possible to conquer Emeishan in a single day!
The following day was much more casual and we explored around the base of the mountain and a few of the temples. It’s a shame that a lot of sights contain fake carvings and statues. This would prove to happen everywhere we visited in China. Unfortunately this makes you fairly skeptical if you are actually looking at the real deal.
Having seen some nice photos online, we ventured out to Qingyin Pavilion (710m).
Visited 14th and 15th December 2013.