So this blog has been experiencing a bit of a dryspell, but this is not my fault, as I have been aboard a ship heading down the Yangtze the last three days. A wetspell if you will...(calm down Zanna)
But, now I have LOTS of news.
So 2nd day in Emei Shan involved the small task of, you know, climbing a mountain. Well, technically we only climbed half way up the mountain, as there wasn't enough time allotted for the whole thing, shame, but this just means another thing to add to my increasingly expensive sounding next trip to China. We got up *ridiculously early* and breakfasted on what the Chinese take as a sort of Western meal - flat fried egg in sweet bread..I kind of would have preferrred steamed buns and sticky rice...THEY'VE INDOCTRINATED ME ALREADY.
Our guide was the most energetic 60 year old I have ever met. We'd been told in advance he was 60. But this didn't mean we got out of the long and incredibly drawn out game of "Guess my age?":
Ok. err 45 (starting low, to be kind)
Fine, 55 (please let this be right)
HIGHHHER!! *triumphant grin*
Are you 60?
YES! And then with a big smile he would turn to the next person in the group, who had been standing right next to me throughout this conflab, with the opener "Are you, can you guess my age?"! He was awesome though - he'd chosen his English name to be Zebiddee, which made Jo think of the Magic Roundabout, me think of that toy zebra we had of that name...and Phong misheard him and spent the next two days calling him Jeopardy!
The bus ride up the mountain was very windy, so every 2 minutes Zebidee would helpfully shout out "HAIRPIN" to prepare us..for, well, the curve in the road! The first two times I was verry confused because I was certain he was shouting out Herpes...and then I had to explain to our lovely, 27 year old but totally innocent guide what that was...the first of many revelations! I'm pretty sure her boyfriend either thinks we're a terrible influence on her, or thinks we're gods! Anyhow....we got to the base of the cable car that takes you up to the Golden Summit, named so for the pretty recently built but extrvagant Golden Buddha statue/temple.
Yeah, we pretty much just saw mist! Slightly golden-tinged mist, with elephants suddenly appearing at times, but mainly mist! It cleared up after a while though, so we could just about see the top of the statue, which was pretty cool, but like most of the chinese sites of interest it's mocked up to look old, which kind of detracts from the charm. Outside one of the three temples (gold, silver, and copper, our guide confidently informed us), the blonde hair worked its magic and all the tourists wanted to have their photos with it, and as I am attached to it I had to be there too! It happens everywhere, being in China is such an ego boost, it's going to be sad coming back to England and being normal and cliche again! the hair is also the best bartering tool (50 yuan? ... No 40 yuan and you can stroke my hair... Ok-a, Ok-a we do) :-P
Anyhow, this time I got to take pictures of them too, so when I print of photos of myself with random strangers, I will truly have become Asian.
Came down to the bottom of the mountain and had Kung Pow Chicken (please note, we then preceded to be presented with this meal for the next three meals! Kung Pow OVERLOAD). and then, it was the momentous moment, when I realised......that I am actually a Panda. I Looooove Bamboo! We had shoots and leaves and special shoots and leaves and it's so yummy, I can now understand why pandas are such fussy eaters. You've gotta try fresh Bamboo, it'll change your life...
Well as you can imagine it took me a couple of minutes to move past that epiphany, but Zebidee was pretty speedy so you had to keep on your toes or he'd kind of just run off in search of monkeys to terrorise. I think he secretly wanted to be a member of the Monkey Police (I'm not kidding, they actually exist, because the monkeys on Emei Mountain have been so over fed by humans that they get very aggressive if you don't approach them with food and will often try and attack you. Hence, the monkey police. For my slower readers, no this is not a force compromised of actual but more sensible monkeys.).
The first section of the mountain was pretty touristy - very pretty and rustic looking, but stall upon stall lining the path trying to sell you "jade" buddhas. So it was nice that after about an hour of walking through a sort of foresty, rainforest, which was really beautiful, we left the people behind and it was just us...against the monkeys. Zebs was running around clashing rocks at them, which was quite a relief because I have never been more certain that an animal was rabid. INTERLUDE: Mummy, I told you I needed the vaccine!
After 1000 steps we finally reached the monastery - which was sweet and a lot smaller than the larger and more beautiful one at the bottom. It was literally just two covered courtyards on the side of a cliff. The accommodation was actually pretty nice - big four post style beds and electric blankets (why are these only marketed at OAPS? They're amazing!). I made friends with various dogs, especially a chubby white pekinese who was chained to the wall (hardly very Buddhist...) and constantly gave me "love me, love me" eyes. I have discovered that dogs seem to like the skanky sweet potato dried fruit that I bought thinking it was mango, so he was very possessive over me!
The Loos. Oh the loos. I wish I could show you a photo. They were in an outside building that looked like a makeshift UFO, surrounded by open windows, and with only very small dividing walls between each of the holes in the concrete ground that passed as toilets. Either they had a verrry low budget, or spiritual communion is important even when you pee, because it definitely became a group activity! The showers were even more amusing as there was literally NO WALL between each shower and OPEN WINDOWS looking out into the courtyard. So we're all naked, trying not to get any sneaky peaks at each other and then suddenly A MONK ＷＡＬＫＳPAST!! I need to emphasise how totally three naked girls were in his eyeline. 2 minutes later and two more come past! We're absolutely mortified, grumbling along about how they ought to be men of god, they shouldn't have designed such a voyeuristic bathroom etc. etc. and we're still moaning as we walk out and notice that....there were shutters we should have pulled across the windows......That's right, we basically flashed three monks! Of places to make that mistake, in a monastery. They must have thought the lord was testing them or something....When I went back for the loo later, I noticed the shutters had been decisively closed...Major Oops!!!
So having bared all to religious men we headed down 20m to the "Hard Wok Cafe" (Pause: for everyone to appreciate the joke in this name...to laugh...laugh some more...and then still find it hilarious) for some pretty shoddy (oh great some more kung pow chicken, yes, thank you, we love it...) food, but a pretty awesome view into the gorge.
Woke up early to hear the monks chant and by early I mean 4:30am. There were only 3 of them, so we were a little disappointed and they sung this one tune over and over and over so for the past week all of our group have burst into "ah teu deua amore, kay day to ah see amore, amore" or, well something like that, they just say amore a lot! These Buddhist tunes are damn catchy.
On the way down the mountain I got attacked by a monkey. HE JUMPED ON MY ＢＡＣＫＰＡＣＫ． I freeeaked out, ran screaming down the steps, flinging my walking stick into the air and bursted into tears. Surely, any second now the Monkey Police are going come to my rescue, or arrest the monkeys and remind them of their right to remain silent...but NO, THEY STAND. AND LAUGHＡＴME. Then one of them offers me monkey food. The monkey just tried to straddle my back, which is never nice to get from a strange male, and now you want me to reward him?! The Monkey Police really suck, even if they do get to wear cool uniforms with cartoon monkeys on them...
We made it down and back to the Monastery at the bottom of the mountain, which was definitely my favourite. Our accommodation there was basic, but we were staying in a beautiful old temple that had once housed the leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party and our rooms opened on to this huge old verrandhas that looked out into one of the central courtywards. We pretty much just sat on them with green tea and chatted until it got late and then I read out there with a blanket. It was wonderful.
Tea, chats and blankets are sounding very appealing right now so I'll fill you in the hellish ride to Chonquing, then our 3 days on the Yangtze tomorrow.
So I'll leave you with something rather lovely I read in a book today (ok, vomit-away, I know it sounds like an after school special, but they're good lines ok!?):
"She was one in a line of loves, but she was the only one at this moment and she would be the last. The unforgettable one, he took with him to the end."
Zanna the Spanner oh my gosh you know me so well ;) Hey you can try the above email if the other one doesnt work. CHECK YOUR OTHER BLOG COMMENTS THERES A MASSIVE COMMENT FROM ME. love youuuu xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Zanna's Lap Dog Oohh wow, I hadn't seen that!! Ok, man ALL of those trips sound super super enticing! I am DEFINITELY coming to see you, whether it be in poland, or we go on a trip (would be awesommmme), and obviously you are welcome to stay at mine like whenever, you know how I like snuggles. The only thing is I do need to get a job over the summer so that I can pay my parents back, but it's unlikely I'll get one until beginning of july and I get back on june 16th, so maybe I could come see you sometime from then on until julyish? I'm keeping a tight budget out here and if I don't drink tooo much in SA and depending on whether I do a safari then I might have the money for us to go somewhere!!! I SO WANT TO GO TO PARIS. Oh and I also might be making another eurostop, we'll see, but we can talk about it all when I'm back. I know you'll have exams :-( :-( but whenver you want freetime and someone to stroke your hair and feed you caffeine RING ME OK? I miss you so much Zan. Screw Voldemort...you're well out of that venus fly trap. Go find yourself a nice Hagrid (ok he's hairy, but hung like a mammoth I'm sure). My parents read this blog...dammit. Email me!