Continue Friday 9th October
When we arrived in Meishan bus station, we were all hasselled by scouts trying to give us lifts to our hostel, but we were told by hostel that if we phone from bus station we can have a free pick up. It turned out that we were all staying at Teddy's hostel and a french guy also called Charles.
Inside the bus station we managed to get a lady at the information desk to phone them for us, just then I turned around to see a horror look come over Ad's face and he shouted my name and ran off, he scared the beejesus out of me, not sure what was wrong I chased him. He was wandering back and forth in the bus parking area looking very panicked. Turned out he'd left his very expensive coat on the bus, that had now driven off. OH NO!!! We wizzed over to some guards sitting chatting and tried as best we could using our best charades moves possible, to explain what had happened. One guy took us to the policeman, they looked a little blank at us then very relaxed took our bus tickets asked us to sit and wandered off. They didn't seem to be doing anything, so we wasn't sure they understood us, but believe it or not they turned up a good 20-25mins later carrying Ad's coat PHEWWWW - lets just say we will be triple checking everything now before leaving anywhere.
Joined the others who advised us that the hostel said we could go by cab to them and they would pay us back, coolio, but as there was a bus right outside we jumped on that. We showed the lady who collects the bus money where we wanted to go and she nodded in understanding but then started to talk to other local passengers and everyone started to laugh at us. Not sure why but hey ho as long as we get there that's all that matters. We kept going to get off just in case she didn't understand us, but after a few times of her shouting no to us, we guessed she knew what we meant. Found the whole journey a bit of a giggle and turned into a game with us pretending to get off and her yelling at us to stop and then laughing.
Finally came to stop and she guided us not only off the bus but onto another bus telling the lady on that one where we wanted to get off, really sweet of her, think she enjoyed our game with her. Good job the buses only cost 10p a time. It was getting dark now and a short bus ride further and the lady told us to get off and pointed up a dark road. As we headed in the direction she pointed there was no hostel to be found, but some old guys sitting smoking to one side were shouting to us and pointing further up. They were right, a couple more roads up and there it was all lit up a very good looking hostel called Teddy's - Great first impressions.
The place was wooden from top to bottom, very clean and when we saw the dorm, that even had it's own huge bathroom that only cost us 2 pound 50 each a night we thought all our christmas's had come at once, it was gorgeous. Just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any better, I stepped back out in the restaurant area, only to see Ad playing with a gorgeous little puppy, only 3 weeks old, soooooooooooo cute. I could've stayed and played for hours, but managed to pull myself away to go for dinner te he.
Ad, Charles and I found a nice little restaurant about 10mins walk away, didn't speak a word of english and no pic's of food in sight, but after much very difficult conversation (if you can call it that) and me almost having a heart attack when they fished a fish from their pond and brought it in to show us, we was served, rice, chicken in a rather spicy sauce and soup that we never ordered. Was all ok, but they tried to charge us a whopping six pounds for it between us, we were having none of it and after much debate managed to get the cost down to four pounds. They'll try it on they will!!
Back to hostel where we joined the other couple for some well deserved beers, spent a loooooot of time playing with the puppy and a 3 month old cat - most of the night they were play fighting and it was hilarious, we just took pics and filmed them. Another couple came to join us, a swedish guy who spoke fluent Chinese and his Chinese girlfriend and a Chinese guy also. We all chatted well into the early hours, I was a wee bit tipsy, but it was great fun.
Saturday 10th October
Charles was up nice and early and had already been out, so when I awoke, I just asked him what the whether was like and if it was worth climbing the mountain - NOPE was his reply. In that case took time getting up and ready before waking Ad who was desperately hanging onto his pillow.
Didn't want to waste the day so decided to go visit the Giant Buddha here, which is well worth a visit according to the Lonely Planet. Charles decided to join us and we went from the local bus station which was handy. Didn't take too long to reach the sight, only two buses away. Bonus - we managed to use our student cards and get in for almost half price - EXCELLENT.
What we didn't hear about in the book was that there are actually two sections to this park, you don't have to do them both but we thought WHY NOT!! It was actually nice to see, the first section had a huge buddha lying on it's side up on the cliffe side, quite impressive actually and a number of other buddhas upright underneath it, still massive. Lots of little caves, many steps to climb and the garden area was really nice. Figured the steps were good practice for the mountain climb tomorrow.
The giant buddha was amazing, it must of took them forever to build it. Words just don't explain quite how big this buddha really is, it's a def must see. We had obviously picked a good day to visit cos the walk from top to bottom of the buddha didn't take too long, whereas we have heard that some people were in queues for up to four hours CRAZY!! Every step gave you another spectacular view of it, it was more impressive then I'd imagined.
Took a while to find our way out of the park, so we ended up going back the way we had come. Very quiet in the first section now, kinda erie. Was in a rush as we thought the last bus was at 6pm, lucky for us it was 6:30pm PHEW - feel a bit silly now for grabbing the cab and running to the bus station OH WELL!
Met a guy from Israle called Gal on the bus, nice guy, also going to Teddy's so we all chatted on the way there and decided to grab a bite to eat together. A really nice couple running a street food section near the hostel took us in and we had a very generous portion of fried rice each with a selection of veggies BBQ'd delicious.
Early night for most cos got a big day tomorrow on the mountain, was pleased Ad managed to get in touch with everyone on Skype to wish him happy birthday for tomorrow as we may be up and out early.
Sunday 11th October - HAPPY BIRTHDAY ADAM He was chuffed to bits with his cards from family and although it wasn't the warmest of starts to the day and a wee bit foggy outside we still decided to climb the mountain, def a different birthday experience. Good solid egg on toast breakfast to get us going YUM YUM. Grabbed a bamboo stick each and Ad, Charles, Gal and I made our way to the base of the mountain. The bamboo sticks were to help fight off the EVIL MONKEYS! Had some pics taken of all of us at the waterfalls at the bottom, very nice area then managed to get a lift off of a very nice Chinese guy half way up towards the base. Luckily enough for us another Chinese guy drove past at that moment and took us the rest of the way. We paid our entrance fee and entered the land of STEPS or so it would seem from this point on. Although it was damp, a wee bit chilly and too cloudy to see any views below, we still enjoyed the trek up, challenging to say the least but with out continued banter, stories and the odd sing song, the time seemed to fly. We truly believe the distances shown on the map are wrong because to get to certain areas seemed to fly by and there is no way we could have covered those distances as quickly as we did. I personally found it very hard work at times but the guys also a bit puffed at times, found it a lot easier. The encouraged me along and I was very proud when we reached an area to sleep about 6-7 hours later. There was plenty of places to stop and drink on the way up and we found a nice little place to eat some hot noodle soup, it was so cold up here that we could see our breath as we chatted. SOOOOO COLD. Didn't have trouble from the monkeys on this section, the odd few dodgy looks like they were planning attack, but we seemed to get through safely and was more than ready for an early night when we got to the hostel. They did try to charge us 20 pound each to start, but we managed to haggle this down to 2 pound 50 each, always worth a haggle or two. All grabbed some tea to try and warm up as we sat there waiting for some dinner. Another hot bowl of noodle soup and some snacks and we were ready to snuggle up into our beds about 7pm, it was far too cold to go anywhere and the beds had electric blankets. We did play a couple of games of 21 questions, but too cold to even put our arms out to play cards too funny. Not the way I'd hoped to help Ad celebrate his birthday, but we did promise to have some beers with him back at Teddy's hostel tomorrow night. Ad and I watched a movie while warming up. SLEEP Monday 12th October Was the strangest thing, I guess because we went to bed so early, we were all up about 1am, thinking it was a lot later. Chatted for a bit. Ad went to check the weather, we considered leaving now to get to the summit for sunrise, but he returned to tell us it was raining and so foggy he could not even see across the road OH NO!! Back to sleep, no point rushing now. Finally awoke about 9ish and took our time getting up. Still freezing outside, we sat shivering at the table while eating egg on noodles and drinking tea to warm up a bit. I have to admit I was not at all keen or ready to climb more steps, but we were under the impression that we only had another 2 hours or more to go for the summit, so compared to yesterday, this didn't seem so bad. About 30mins into the trek and OH YES we found more EVIL MONKEY'S, they got their name EVIL today. I had a bottle of water sticking our of my pocket and not thinking it would be a problem walked ahead of Adam with it. A monkey clocked eyes on it and decided to get ready to pounce. Luckily Ad saw it in plenty of time and jumped around with his bamboo stick, I believe the monkeys have come into contact with bamboo sticks before as this monkey backed off straight away. Some of them show there teeth at the sticks, so obviously they are not keen on them. One was on the roof above us and looked like it was going to pounce so Ad put up the bamboo stick and it chased him and smacked the stick, was hillarious. As we got closer to the top, I saw the strangest thing, a lady was down on her knees praying and kissing the ground, then she would stand, walk a few steps and repeat the praying process. She surely cannot be doing this all the way to the summit, I thought, but she did. The summit was gorgeous, even in the mist of clouds, the parts we could see of the Golden statue above the temple right at the top was spectacular. I can imagine on a clear day the views must be out of this world. Inside the temple was imaculate, so clean and neat and very well kept, it was a little warmer inside, so we were pleased to go in and spend some time wandering around looking at the very colourful paintings on the walls and the decoration in general, it was gorgeous. Had some pics taken of us all, probably looking very glad to have finally made it, def worth the trek, I was very pleased with myself, that's for sure. There was another temple, slightly smaller to look in and a shop, the steps leading up to the summit had a number of golden elephants on them, was a great sight to see and you really felt like you had accomplished something. Shame it was sooooooo cold, lets just say after a good 40mins on top we were more than ready to leave and head back down. This is when we saw the praying lady still making her way up CRAZY!! Needed to walk back to the point where we had slept, this is where cars and buses came and left from. So once again we had to pass the naughty monkeys, but I have to admit on this journey back they were the most entertaining. One way we looked a monkey was trying to get into the coat pockets of a guy who had just fed him and as we were keeping an eye on one near us, another one was creaping up behind and grabbed a shopping bag from a lady next to us, who had a toddler with her. Ad tried to fight it off with the bamboo stick but it went NUTS!! It ripped open the bag and nicked the toddlers bottle of milk, unscrewed the lid and downed the whole thing right there in front of us. We couldn't help but burst out laughing, it was too funny, the poor toddler just stared with his mouth wide open in shock and even his mum had to giggle. Back at the bottom we discussed walking down, but as the views were still blocked by clouds and it hadn't warmed up much at all we opted for catching a lift down. However, Charles the crazy french guy, really wanted to walk so he headed off on his own. Gal managed to jump in a car with a family and about 5mins later a really nice Chinese couple let up hop in with them and they dropped us at the point where we started to walk. Perfect for us. We walked about 15mins further and almost reached the bridge where we first got a lift to yesterday, when a really nice guy and his dad offered to take us back to the beginning where our hostel was. I have to admit I was over the moon to be back there and very much looking forward to a WARM WARM shower. Arrived back at Teddy's hostel for about 4:30pm and Gal very kindly booked our dorm room already. Being the lovely gentleman they are, they kindly let me use the shower first and boy did I love every minute of it - it's great being a girl sometimes te he. I felt instantly refreshed. Had a crazy German girl in our room who was so frantic she was all over the place and funnily enough caught Ad naked as he was just about to jump in the shower - was very funny. She was a little careful when coming back in the room after this te he. Gal joined us for dinner and we went to a nice cheap looking place around the corner. Was perfectly tasty had some dumplings, veg mix and rice mmmmmmmmm, felt sorry for Chales cos it was dark now and he still hadn't got back from walking down the mountain, assumed he had stayed somewhere. Stuffed and ready to relax with a beer we headed back to the hostel. Just as we got there, the ladies told us Charles had arrived bless him, he looked knackered and I got the impression he regretted his decision to walk down. Spoke to mum on skype for a bit while the boys played cards and drank beer. Joined them later to learn a Russian card game called Durak, really fun game and Gal who taught us seemed to be too good to beat - mission going forward is to beat him te he. We taught them some card games and drove Charles crazy with the magic trick called Black Magic - so simple its annoying. More beers and we were all set for bed, its been another brilliant but LONG DAY. Tuesday 13th October In bed till 11am TUT TUT the latest we've lied in yet, but well worth it, plus we had nothing to rush for today. Went back to the dumpling place where we ate last night and got some very yummy warm dumplings for brekky mmmmmmmmm. The puppy seemed to disappear this morning but was glad they managed to find it before we left, apparently some guests had taken it in their room for the night. PHEW!! Charles decided to stay here for another day as he could barely walk bless. So Ad, Gal and I got the 1pm bus back to Chengdu, where we had planned to stay at The Loft hostel that Gal had stayed at last time and recommended to us. Off to Chengdu we go.