It takes over a day to hike Mt. Emei, but since I only have a day here, I decided to cheat a little bit. This morning I caught a 9 am bus that took me up a good portion of the mountain in 2 hours, dropping me off at Lei Dong Ping Station. From here, it would be 6km to the summit.
Since I hadn’t eat breakfast yet, I stopped and bought baozi, my favorite breakfast (or honestly anytime) food for about 3 times as much as I would usually pay. I started to eat while beginning the climb, but I was quickly told in Chinese by another climber – be careful, put those away, the monkeys! Sure enough, I looked ahead and there were about 10 wild monkeys! There is a specific section of Mt. Emei that is specially known for having lots of wild monkeys, however, being so far away from that section, I didn’t expect to see so many monkeys so soon! A little bit further ahead there were signs warning that the monkeys have been known to rob passerby and to keep a good distance from them. The Chinese tourists loved the monkeys and were so excited to take videos of them and get up close with them, but me…I was scared! I got out of there as quickly as I could!
For the next 3 hours I climbed almost 4 miles of stairs. The higher up I got, the more mystical the journey seemed. Everything around me was so foggy that instead of sweeping mountain views, all I could see was white. I knew that I made it to the summit not by the view but by the smell of incense burning. As I got closer, people praying and lighting incense emerged out of the fog. Then finally I started to make out the giant golden statue at the top of the summit, for which it is named “Golden Summit”. Even standing directly at the base of the golden statue, I still could not see the top because it was so foggy. It was like I was walking in the middle of a giant cloud. Everywhere I looked disappeared into nothingness. I began to notice other travelers walking around the statue in a clockwise motion, all praying. I began to follow behind them when I realized that I could actually enter into the inside of the golden statue, which housed a big golden Buddha (not nearly as big as the Leshan Buddha though!). I took some time to take in what I was able to see at the summit, then began making my way back down to Lei Dong Ping Station. From there I rode the bus 2 hours back to the base of the mountain.
Starving, I decided to try some authentic and spicy Sichuan food. I’ll admit it was really spicy! But nothing I couldn’t handle 😉
Finally, I came back to my hostel to shower and have a chill end to the day. To my surprise, but also an awesome coincidence, one of my classmates from my study abroad program happened to be in the same exact hostel room! A great way to end the day in Emei before my train out tomorrow morning.