Sunday, July 1, 2012

E Mei mountain ( Chengdu) 峨眉山

Wanted to go out of the city Chengdu, and was planning for Jiuzhaigou. But considering I had only 2.5 days, I was worried I would not be able to catch my plane back home because the bus from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou is around 9-11hours. And I heard that the entrance ticket was expensive and was not worth while to make it a one-day trip. So.... I cancelled my hostel at Jiuzhaigou and cancelled my already purchased bus ticket and made my way to......       E Mei mountain ( Chengdu) 峨眉山,About 150 km south of Chengdu.

Reluntant initially because my religion is not Buddhism and 峨嵋山 is known as the Holy mountain. Made me a little uncomfortable. The 3099m high mountain is one of four holy Buddhist mountains in China (Putuoshan in Zhejiang province, Wutaishan in Shanxi and Jiuhuashan in Anhui. Emei is also host to the first Buddhist temple in China, built on the mountain in 1 A.D. and marking the advent of Buddhism to the country. It was an UNESCO heritage site in 1996. But decided to go for the hike/trek and cross fingers hope for no chanting.
Got my tickets from Chengdu Xin Nan Men bus station and Oh. it just says 720am but was told that there's a bus every 10 minutes so anytime onwards is fine .. as long as there is a seat on the bus. Bus is available from 07:20-19:20. The journey was suppose to be 2 hours but with the jams and all, it took around 4 hours. Hence, I took the reliable train back to Chengdu when I went back.

Bus from Chengdu Xin Nan Men does not go directly to Bao Guo. It stops at a bus station in the city of E Meishan city. Guides say that there will be minibuses but when I arrived, it was empty. So I took the risk on the public bus. Got up No. #1 directly outside the station which then stopped at this shopping place. - (Actually thankful that I went on the public bus, so I came to know about this heavenly place for food and shopping)

Then you go to the central plaza which has 2 golden 'horses?' then cross the road to come to this junction and take bus #5 to lv you che zhan (tourist bus station) 旅游车站。 The bus does not stop at every station so you need to call out "xia che" 下车 going down! Once you see the university 交通大学。 If you miss it, just call at the next stop when you see the transport center below:
 Tried getting information at the counter but the lady was very curt and when I asked about information at the side, I was brushed aside. Heard that the nearby Teddy bear hostel is very friendly and provide good information, so I went there. Out of the transport entrance, turn right to the small alley and you will see it. And yes! Very very good information. And its free map! (Heard also have free walking sticks and torch) After consulting with the counter friendly girl, and my "I want to walk the whole way" spirit and I prefer the scenic route (and not temples route) , I was advised to quickly make my way up if I want to do the whole way walking up and down and make a the halfway point Magic Peak Monastery Xian Feng Temple仙峰寺. So I quickly made my way to the above transport station, and was caught with another problem - Half way journey or full journey. Till date, I'm still puzzled. I bought the 40 RMB ticket which brought me by bus to Wuxiangang Bus Station 五显岗车站。It is the first stop (which took around half an hour from the transport center). And when I walked through, the entrance, no one asked me for the entrance fee! (Yay! Save $$)
 This wonderful map which was a saver to which direction to walk etc.Its important to keep asking if you are going in the right direction specially in the beginning.

Fearful of the sky becoming dark, I quickly made my way on foot FAST.
Before you ascend the mountain, you need to pass by places for the tourist taking pictures and locals selling their goods. 
Further up ahead is the monkey area. The monkeys are allowed to run wild. Along the way I was hoping not to bump into them because they are suppose to be very fierce ( I heard they snatched a lady's bag and refused to let go)
This is the monkeys haven. All over at every nook and corner. It appears...
After around an hour of tourist attractions, finally start my ascend. Up, Up, Up... and when I say this, it was just the beginning of steps so I was still fine. 
*PS: It felt really safe traveling alone in E mei because they have pit stops along the way where you have to register with the rangers your Name, ID and where you are from. 

Fatigue had began to set in after close to 2 hours of walking ( not just walking, but up flights and flights of stairs). Just at that moment, appeared Mr Snake who wanted to be my companion for my climb. 
Along the way there were quite a number of snakes but seems harmless.
Oh! Before I forget, though there are stalls along the way that sells food, snacks and drinks. Its expensive. $2 (10 yuan)  for a bottle of water and $3 (15 yuan for a bowl of noodles). So pack your bag with goodies if you do not want to spend.
At around 5pm, I finally reached semi- Midway.  Monastery Xian Feng Temple仙峰寺 and was thinking of making it my midway pit stop (because I was really exhausted by then ). (Note: Did not stop for lunch at all because I was fearful of it turning dark) But the other climbers advised me to go on to the Elephant pool ( if i wanted to catch the sunrise and the 金顶 the next morning). And that it only become dark at around 8pm. Was pondering and thinking for about 15 minutes when I decided to push on.

After climbing for another 2 hours - up many flights of steps - it became colder and colder -darker and darker. But the scenery up there was worthwhile! Look! 
Joy! Finally reached Elephant Pool 洗象池. Immense happiness. Cross fingers - hoping there was vacancy in the dorm. And yes! There was!
The dorm. Very comfortable with bed warmers. I can't really remember but i think was 65RMB per night. And the girl I met in my dorm told me she climbed from Baoguo entrance and yes there was the entrance fee of 80rmb I think. And the other lady i met in my dorm who sat all the way to the top then walked downwards, also had to pay the entrance fee. I guess the entrance fees were strict at the popular entrance points. And most of the tourist buses start from there.

Was supposed to wake up at 4am to trek up but it was raining so heavily out there. Strong winds and downpours! So I continued sleeping snuggling under my warmers. Wonderful!
And the best thing about this hostel is THERE WAS NO CHANTING in the morning. Probably only 5 minutes or so but it was soft. I slept through it. (Maybe because I was very tired haha)

Here's my 10 RMB $2 Breakfast in the morning. Oats porridge with my favorite preserved vegetables and the 2 big mantou. I love the oats porridge with the vegetables!
 Around 8am I began my ascend to the summit (Oh so I thought). It was cold and up there, felt I had to breathe harder for breath.
Then the 'oldies' veterans in the mountain just had to overtake me. No need for resting at all and they are carrying such heavy loads.
UP!UP!UP!UP!UP! 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,......30. REST.  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,......30.
My method for conquering the steps! Bit by Bit!
Reaching! (Looks like right? But no! There's much more!)
Appeared into sight was the tourist buses at Jiulinggang bus station 九岭岗。(This is the highest point where buses can stop to alight their tourists to ascend to the summit 金顶.) Such a comfort to see people though. And of course, the choice of cable car after half an hour of walking. But the queue was so long! For me, I told myself I WANT to conquer the mountain, so I decided shouldn't be that bad. Should be quite near right since by cable car, it only takes around 5 min.The " to the summit" sign!
Boy, was I wrong. It was more UP!UP!UP!UP! for probably 2.5 hours? My legs were wobbly! Had to eat sweets to boost my energy level. (If you are really fit perhaps 2hours?) * Most people with children and old people take the cable car up then walk down. Its easier and walking down only takes 1.5 hrs for slower walkers*

Reached the summit finally. Dismay to see this, the summit is not the summit!
Well, I thought to myself" This to me IS the summit". (becoming self-delusional haha)

Many tourist comes here to give their prayers, take picture of the Big Buddha etc etc. For Chinese, prayers mean 1. Light up josssticks and place it in a big pot and make a 'wish' for health, prosperity etc 2. Light up candles and getting rid of the evilness. 

With the iconic message locks,
Lovers place their locks there then throw away the key far far away meaning everlasting love!
Families place locks wishing peace for their family.
Yes! It was that misty and cold. I was glad I did not wake up at 4am. Else I would be so disappointed!
Had my favorite corndog with Chili seasoning powder. Yummy!

Then to reward myself, sat the cable car down! Only 5 minutes - Relaxing!
When I got to the Linggang station, I was told that my ticket was only to midway so I had to buy a new ticket or do an add-on of 50 RMB. Imagine my irritation! Then one of the minibus tout approached me with the same price promising faster journey ( I'm glad I took it because the journey down was 'curvy' round and round and round descending. felt carsick. but it took only around 1hour I would suppose)

Because I had sat the bus down rather than walk down, Had the chance to stay at Teddy Bear Hostel. It was a very very good hostel! A 6 bedded dorm with your own locker, multi plugs and toilet and air-con at only 35 RMB. And during the night, there was the entertainment big screen movie system for watching! Fantastic!
Since I was back in town, I grabbed a dorm mate and visited the shopping streets (when I first arrived) by sitting bus #5 there! Love Love! The streets had such good street food! (I'm drooling just thinking of it) And the things were so cheeeeaaaapppp! Bought loads of items!
The next morning, woke up to such nice breeze and weather and took a walk at the nearby parks.Beautiful!
And went to the nearby snack street!

I was deciding whether I should take the bus back to Chengdu again or should I sit the train. 
My room mater told me she was sitting the train, so I thought might as well. And it was a good choice! Arrive back in Chengdu on time and it was near the outlet market (more street food and more clothes!) - that I could do some shopping before I go to the nearby station to take bus #300 to the airport for my evening flight.

E Mei Shan! 峨眉山

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