Saturday, November 17, 2012


We decided to take an overnight adventure to a beautiful mountain south of Chengdu called Emei (say "Uh May").  I was too terrified to get lost up there, so we asked my students, Vivian and Wendy, if they could possibly go with us.  Vivan and her boyfriend, John, were able to go, and they made all the arrangements for us.  We would have preferred more hiking, less bus riding, and a sighting of the famous monkeys that inhabit the area, but we enjoyed what we did see, and were glad to have some guidance.

Emei is the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China.  We were short of time, so we took the bus ride (1-1/2 hours of hairpin turns!) to the cable car staging area near the top of the mountain.  We drove through a beautiful valley with cascading waterfalls, streams, bamboo forests, and jutting mountain peaks.  Later, it was getting foggy, and as we hiked up to the cable car, we could see very little of the view because of the fog.  We kept looking for the monkeys, but there were none to be seen.  :(  Maybe it's a good thing because Vivian screamed and jumped back when we saw a chipmunk later on!

Along the trail (actually a stone staircase), there were stalls selling all kinds of souvenirs and foods, many of which we couldn't recognize!
Would you eat ANY of these items?
And if you didn't want to hike, there was another method for getting up and down.
Modern-day rickshaw without the wheels.
The first Buddhist Temple in China was built on this mountain in the First Century AD.  Now there are more than 76 monasteries here.  We took a cable car to the top of Jinding, where there are two temples with accompanying sculpture and statues.
Rising above the "sea of clouds", a famous phenomenon on Mt Emei.

Vivian wanted us to buy some incense and showed us how to go about Buddhist prayer.  Light the incense, bow three times to the statue, place the incense in the stand, close your eyes, and think of good things  There is a massive statue of Samantabhadra at the summit of Mount Emei, and a grand staircase leading up to it with 6-tusked elephant statues along the way.  This elephant was seen in a sacred vision.

A monk in his robes.

The temples have some beautiful art pieces on display.  If I could read Chinese, I could tell you what they were and what they were made of!

The top of the peak has a Grand Canyon-like edge to it which goes straight down below the "sea of clouds" farther than the eye can see.  Worshipers used to see another phenomenon, a rainbow-like halo around their shadow on the clouds, and they leapt from the peak to their deaths thinking it was a 'call' of some kind.  That is discouraged with these signs.
"Loving Life - Don't turn round the hand rail."
Jinding Peak

Looking down on the "sea of clouds"

Unfortunately, people have thrown things over the edge, and it almost looks like a landfill in places, with papers, bottles, bamboo canes and other debris.
No monkeys, but we saw this familiar-looking fellow!
We rode the cable car back down and the long bus ride back to the village at the base where our hotel was.  Rain was in the forecast or we would have stayed at the hotel on the peak to see the fabulous sunrise.  Maybe next trip.

We went to eat at the "food court", a collection of restaurants with their selections displayed in beautiful arrays on tables, and with 'hawkers' walking up to you and telling you to go to sit at a table in their restaurant.
Looks good enough to eat!  If it were only refrigerated.....

Yes, that's a "fresh" chicken he's preparing--good thing it's blurry!

Chicken, pheasant, quail, dove.......

.... rabbit...


...and crawdads.  (I actually ate crawdads last summer!  Not bad!)

After dinner, we went to look at the big bronze bell in the lights, and the hotel was also lit up like Vegas. 

But the most fun was the hot springs, where we enjoyed the warm water, hot water, sulfur water, sauna and steam bath.  Ahhhhhhhh.........

Next morning, we had a full buffet breakfast with such luxuries as cold cereal, fried eggs, bacon, toast and juice.  

I decided to try the easy way up the mountain.  At least for a little ways.  Unfortunately, I think my team didn't understand we were taking a "moving" picture, so they wanted to hold still!!

 Karen with the Koolies

We went to the base of the mountain where there are some sculptures carved in the face of the cliff of different images from Buddhism.

There was an exhibit with a display representing the origination of martial arts in China and about Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.  There were some beautiful gardens we walked through on our way to the Baoguo Temple.
Statues of Chinese Boxing (Martial arts)

We finally saw some pandas!

Another temple, the Baoguo, with the ever-familiar smell of incense and sculpted Buddhas.  This one had a different collection of Buddhas in a landscape scene that we hadn't seen before.
Baoguo Temple

This happy, fat Buddha was on the top of the roof.
Several statues in one display--different!

This monk is pretty modern with his cell phone at his ear!
  We enjoyed another lunch at the food court, then rested at the hotel before boarding our bus back to Chengdu.  Goodbye, beautiful EmeiShan!
Man-made falls at the base of the mountain.

A beautiful spot in town.

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