We woke early for sunrise – clear air, a little fog in the distance, but not too cold. A number of people were out but it was not crowded. Beautiful.
The return trail to Magic Mountain and Hongchunping (Venerable Trees) Monasteries is stunning, winding along the valley walls, down, down, down many narrow steps. Somehow they seemed steeper today. There were a number of uphill sections as well but not as steep as the downhill.
Venerable Trees Monastery
We decided to sleep at Venerable Trees Monastery guesthouse and got a deluxe room with two double canopy beds with painted wooden floors and no bath. The room faced the monastery courtyard with cliffs looming above.
The communal showers consisted of one big room with 10 to 12 stalls. The shower heads were basically faucet spigots coming out of the wall, thankfully with hot water. Showering became a lesson in Chinese culture when I got accosted by a three naked Chinese women asking my nationality and age as I was undressing. They were very helpful (unnecessarily so) in telling me which stall I should use.
The semi-outdoor communal toilet had open stalls in a circular pattern around a large column, each with a rectangular hole in the clean concrete floor. Lonely Planet claims this to be one of the two most scenic toilet views in China.
We had dinner at a little terrace “restaurant” just below the monastery run by a lovely family with one little boy about four. They were very eager to please. We drank three big bottles of beer and ate four dishes – eggplant, green beans, gong bao chicken and pork with mushrooms. Guess we were hungry.
I couldn’t keep my eyes open and was sound asleep by 7:30. Of course, I was awake again at 12:30, but did manage to fall back to sleep.
May 15, 2006