Emei Shan – Venerable Trees Monastery to Chengdu, China

The little family who runs the restaurant below the monastery was eager to have us back for breakfast, proudly displaying their Nescafe.   I tried to order noodles for myself, banana pancakes for Don and two coffees.  Somehow they missed the banana pancakes.  When the pancakes never appeared I tried to ask about it.   The woman explained very carefully and sweetly with lots of gesturing that she didn’t have bananas. She also couldn’t make a different kind of pancake for some reason I never did quite understand.  Consequently Don was left with a cliff bar for breakfast.

The last part of the hike out was not too difficult and very pretty.  My legs ached, but I felt rested enough to enjoy the scenery and take pictures.  The trail followed the stream most of the way with amazingly clear water, beautiful pools and small waterfalls.

The Plankway area was typical Chinese infrastructure – fake logs made from concrete built into quaint walkways and bridges over the stream.  The place was built for crowds and felt like Disneyland. We were, however, heading out early and it was only at the end that we encountered the first visitors coming in.

Qingyin (Puresound Pavilion) was absolutely lovely.  Two streams merge here.  There is a postcard viewpoint with a large stone, the Ox Heart, where the two streams converge.  The Pavilion overlooks the streams and it looks like they have guestrooms.  There was no mention of it in Lonely Planet but it could be a great place to stay.

Hiking Times

Going up –

              Cable car to Wannian Temple

              Wannian Temple to Xi Xiang Chi (Elephant Pool) 4.5 hours – hard

              Xi Xiang – Jieyin Hall 2.5 hours – hard

              Cable car to Golden Temple Summit

Going down –

              Cable car to Jeiyin Hall

              Jeiyin Hall to Xi Xiang Chi 1.5 hours – slow taking pictures

              Xi Xiang Chi to Magic Mountain Monastery 3 hours – hard, very steep up and down

              Magic Mountain to Venerable Trees Monastery 2.5 hours – hard, steep down

              Venerable Trees to Wuxianggang Parking lot 2 hours – easy

Heading Back to Chengdu

Once at the parking lot we had to wait 45 minutes or so for the next bus.  Once it came, we were the only ones on it.

Back in Baoguo (Declare Nation), we picked up our bags and ate an early lunch at the Teddy Bear Café.  We tried the pancakes with honey – really unleavened thick crepes that seemed more steamed than pan grilled.  OK but not great.

The bus back to Chengdu took nearly four hours, stopping at Emei Shan town for one hour – snacks for the driver and gas – and various stops to pick up other passengers before hitting the expressway.  We finally arrived at the north bus station, Cheng Bei Bus Terminal.

Back at Sim’s we did laundry – very convenient and cheap at 8 yuan per load.  They have a locked box around the electrical outlet.  After paying at the front desk, they give you the key.  There was no dryer so I hung the laundry in the small courtyard that doubles as a storage area for wooden planks and other odd and ends.  The courtyard faced an elementary school and I soon had an audience of smiling faces watching me hang clothes.

Dan and Nancy arrived on schedule at about 6 p.m.  We swapped stories of the last week and had dinner at Sim’s.  It was barbeque night.  A grill was set up on the street in front of the guesthouse and kebabs of various meats and vegetables were on a table, each with a price per kebab.  Most were either .5 yuan for the vegetables or 1 yuan for the meats.  The cook loaded up the kebabs with spices to your taste.  We tried the grilled quail eggs, little round potatoes, green beans and eggplant.

May 16, 2006