Population: 400,000 Province: Sichuan Location: 3099m above sea level
Sat 11/11 - 8.30 start to Leshan to visit The Grand Buddha, Dafo, 71m high and carved into the cliff face overlooking the confluence of the Dadu and Min Rivers. We were told this is the largest outdoor seated stone Buddha in the world. It took about 90 years to complete the statue. Very impressive, and as we got there fairly early on we just about beat the crowds!
After lunch we continued on to to Baguo (means 'repaying the motherland') on Mount Emei (3099m at peak) where we had our first evening stay in a monestry. We were woken up at 4am by the monks chanting, strangley hypnotic and it didnt really interfere with my sleep as I was so tired! The accommodation was very basic, slept in our silk sleeping liners and showered outside in a sort of hut where spiders were lurking in the dark corners (the water was lovely and hot though), but the experience of sleeping and staying in the monestry outweighed the comfort factor 100 fold.
12/11 - Went up to the top of Mount Emei a very windy road by coach and cable car...3077m - to Jingding Peak also known as the Golden Summit, took some nice pics here and walked about for a couple of hours. We were very lucky with the weather is was sunny and warm. After lunch we hiked to another monestry HongChunPing 1120m, through the beautiful scenery, although there were 'blooming monkeys' everywhere, can you believe the Chinese like to feed them, whats that all about?! They even sell bags of food to give to them but warn that they bite, they have 'monkey police' not kidding...they carry sticks to beat away the more amorous ones....monkeys not Chinese tourists!! We were all walking through a particular part and told to stick together, which we did and all of a sudden out of everywhere came lots of snarling monkeys and we got attacked...the walking sticks we had were useless and Zebedee our guide (yes thats his name) threatened them with a rock and that seemed to work...I don't like to admit it but I had only half an hour previously eaten half a snickers bar (sorry guys)and left it in the front pocket of my rucksack...not that I'm saying it was my fault at all...but some of you know my affinity with 'blooming monkeys'!!! Poor Hannah had her leg grabbed!!
How many steps were there to get up to the monestry, I've never climbed so many before...think there were 1400, but guys let me know if I'm wrong?! They went on and on forever. We got to the monestry just as sun set and it was worth the climb...the room and facilities were basic as you'd expect but again staying in the temple itself was a great experience. The 'hard wok' cafe for homecooked dinner just outside the temple was fun (but not the open air toilet facing the dark jungle foliage thinking there were monkeys lurking ready to pounce) followed by table tennis competition then off to bed to wake up bright and early for Tai Chi in the morning instructed by Zebedee then a slow climb down. That evening we were invited to a local wedding ceremony for the groom, which was such fun. We were all treated like VIP guests. Food was very 'local' and suffice it to say I stayed away from the shapes that resembled animal feet or any other part of the body!! The groom came round to each of us with a beer and we had to both down it in one then hand over a red envelope with some money in as our gift...oh so thats why we were invited!!! Dinner was followed by a ceremony for the groom by his family then homemade fireworks...I've never experienced a human firework, think by the end we were all cowering as far away as we could get and laughing hysterically!! I enjoyed our delayed Nov 5th!!!