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Travelogue: By Country | By Date China | July 2001  

July 2001 - Emei Shan Part 1

A bus ride that was an act of faith and then, in the words of one of our party "the stairway to hell."

Tollgate on the highway to Emei.  We got on the bus without any clear idea of where we would end up.  We had a slip of paper with the name of our intended destination on it, but the ticket agent crossed that name out and wrote something else on our slip.  She then sold us 5 tickets and 50 slips marked "one yuan" for which I paid 50 huan.   After about three hours and one stop we arrived at a bus station.  A mini-bus driver immediately offered to drive us to our starting place for 50 yuan.  I offered her our insurance slips.  She tried to explain to me what the slips were or weren't.  I suspected they weren't another ticket but figured waving them around was helping with the bargaining.  She led me inside the bus station where a big discussion occured between our original driver, some official acting guys, and a policeman or two.  It was pretty clear that everyone was telling the driver that he had somehow goofed and should figure things out.  It turns out we should have gotten out at the first stop.  Eventually, the driver paid the woman from the mini-bus 10 yuan to take us back to the last stop.  The slips turned out to be the "insurance" required of every foreigner who takes a cross-country bus ride. Rice fields Doors of an old house after we had started up to Myriad Years Monastery, or Temple of 10,000 Years, or Wannian Si, depending on which map you have.  A level part of the path to the top.  There is a brigade of orange-vested people who keep the path absolutely clean - no trash, no dirt, no leaves.
A loaded backpack All over the mountain, these orange-vested guys hang our with their bamboo carriers to give people a ride up.  Their rates are fixed.  They don't have much to do this time of year, but they are usually in a cheerful mood. Also along the way are many Chinese medicine stands.  The stands feature all sorts of odd and interesting roots, stalks, berries, leaves, etc.
At Wannian Si.
Looking down from the terrace near our guesthouse Our guesthouse, just down from Wannian Si.  It looks much nicer in this picture than it was in reality.  At 6 AM an orange-vested guys started sweeping the courtyard.
A lovely slug on the second day.  The second day was rainy, too misty to see anything, and the path consisted of a steep (but immaculate) stairway upwards.  Monica and Maggie took to counting steps and then to counting slugs. Lunch was leftovers from the night before.  Did I mention that it rained all day. The rain wasn't all bad.  It made for some beautiful moments.
Wherever we went, people tend to stare at us.  I suppose we are rather unusual.  In addition to our size, color, dress, equipment, and language, we are a family with three children.  Most Chinese families only have one child.  View through the haze At another temple on the way to Elephant Pool Two wet animals
Rainy view of one of the courtyards in Elephant Pool Monastery, where we spent the second night. Part of the monastery.  Just like everywhere else we had to negotiate room rates.  In addition to the monks, there were a bunch of other people working in the monastery - cooks, security guards, maids, etc.  The Monastery is also full of monkeys.  They swipe things, wait around to get fed, and are lured into kicking range by the security guards. The vegetable storage room at the monastery A "bell" which is often sounded each time a devotee touches his or her head to the ground before a statue
View from the monastery Courtyard in the monastery Footwear.  Against the wall are woven shoes sold by some of the shops lining the path and worn by many pilgrims.  The snappy set on the right is from a monk. Dinner with the old ladies who seemed delighted that we were eating the same stuff they had eaten - and for the same price.
Part of the staring squad After dinner, the ladies filled wooden buckets with hot water and bathed their feet before bed.  So, of course, Monica did too. Wooden buckets Many of the statues in the Chinese temples are in somewhat lifelike poses.  Since the artistic quality leaves a bit to be desired, the effect is often quite creepy.
Maggie banging on a gong.