Sunday, May 29, 2005

Leshan, Emei Shan

Well, after an 81/2 hr bus ride and an overnight train (in soft sleeper, which is really nice, but I think we opened a can of worms with this one. The girls may never go back to lower class....) we finally arrived in Emei at 6:30am. After getting a ride to the hotel we woke up the guy (who was sleeping in a little pink robe, yikes!) to give us a room. From there it was a 40 minute bus ride to Leshan where we saw the largest sitting Buddha in the world. It was carved into the side of a cliff 1200 years ago and is 71m tall. The whole little hill is a park now with a bunch of temples and such, making it a nice place to stroll around. We got there early so were very surprised to see all the disneyland style lines to go down to the base of the Grand Buddha when the whole park seemed so empty. Ha, well, when we were finally done with the park in the early afternoon the reason why became noisily obvious. There were thousands of them. Bus load after bus load after bus load of chinese tourists came and completely packed the place.
One thing I just can't grasp with these guys is how they all come into a place at the same time (and it feels like millions. Hmmm, I guess in China it could be.) but the rest of the time (usually when we are there thankfully) it feels like a total ghost town. I am becoming very afraid of the lines at the more popular places like the terracotta soldiers.
They are also so well dressed everywhere. They always wear dress pants and shoes. Imagine people in the rice fields or doing construction work wearing dress pants. Even the porters carrying people up the mountains are wearing pin-stripe suits!!! And they are always taking pictures of us too. They just can't get over the girls.
Okay, back to Emei. Leshan and Emei are totally covered in a damp fog. Horrible compared to the nice sun we had before. Emei is at the base of one of the 4 holy Buddhist mountains in China, called Emei Shan. We are staying at the base of it but can't see it. We just spent the last 2 days climbing it, but we still haven't seen it. I only believe it is there because my legs tell me so. The Golden summit of Emei Shan sits at 3000m and is supposed to be above the clouds. Well, when we got there today after hiking in the rain, it was definately in the middle of the cloud because it was a total white-out there. Couldn't see 100ft in front of us. We did manage to climb 2000m to get there though. All stairs. Last night we stayed at a monastery halfway up the mountain. I think if I ever become a monk I will do it at a monastery by the beach and not on top of a mountain.... The chanting and simplicity of the place drove mom a little crazy this morning too. Definately no convert there.
It was not a total waste though. We did manage to see a horse carrying bricks slip on the steep muddy stairs and start rolling back down the mountain. We also saw a monkey jump on a chinese lady's head (and man did she start freaking out). Well worth the climb. These monkeys are a well known terrorist group on the mountain. They basically sit on the path and scare people into giving them food. They are known to jump on people and slap them in the face if they don't give up the good stuff. We didn't have any problems but definately believe the stories now. There are tons of them too. Got some good pictures.
Tomorrow we are heading to Chengdu and then farther north to do some horseback riding in Songpan and visit a national park a little farther north of that before returning back to Chengdu where you will most likely hear from us again.
Bre, believe it or not is a tea junky. Can't get enough of the stuff, you should see her down it like there's no tomorrow. We still know she is Bre though because every morning we have to listen to what her dream was. Some things may never change....
Savannah is obsessed with food. All we ever hear from her is "I'm so hungry I'm gonna die if we don't eat". And then, when we give her food "I still don't feel like I've eaten anything." She is constantly trying to steal our food too.
Mom, well, she's the mom and still addicted to pop. Yes, she held to her promise that she would give up Dr. Pepper as soon as the trip started but that's only because the stuff doesn't exist out here. Asians hate that flavour. Instead she's gone back to Pepsi. I have tried, oh how I've tried to stop her, but I am outnumbered 3 to 1 and she keeps sneaking them behind my back. Everytime we walk past a little shop I see her eyeing those evil things. But I'm losing this battle....but the war's not over yet.

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