03.30.2013 - 03.31.2013 70 °F
Today was the day we climbed Emei Shan 峨眉山. After breakfast we were told to only take the necessary items for one night, as we would be hiking the mountain and then walking to our hostel. We walked to the bus stop and all piled on a big tour bus headed for the mountain. I thought that maybe because we are on a really high mountain and there's lots of traffic, that maybe the drivers would slow down and drive a little bit more cautiously. But no, it only encouraged them and on more than one occasion we were flying around corners passing other busses. We started popping motion sickness pills immediately, and they were only sort of effective.
We finally arrived at the bottom of the mountain. We were herded into our little travel group to hear the game plan from Gary. First we would climb the beginning part to get to the lifts. Then we would split into two different groups. Those that would like to walk an hour and half up the mountain, or those that would like to take a five minute gondola ride.
Before we even made it to that part, we first had to make it past the monkeys. Yup, I said monkeys.
These things were absolutely terrifying, and on more than one occasion I saw them launch at people, clawing at their bags, their cameras and even their faces. They were in no way afraid of humans, and would do anything to get food. Check out the photos to see how close you can really get to them, or I guess how close they can get to you.
After surviving the monkeys we made it to the big decision point. Walk the stairs or take the gondola. Myself, among close to ten of my classmates, chose to take the stairs, all couple hundred...or maybe even a thousand. I have absolutely no idea, but they were straight up for most of the "walk" and I was too out of breath to count.
Finally we reached the summit and were greeted by this....
To be honest I had no idea what we were climbing to. I thought it was going to be a small monastery, but I can say I was pleasantly surprised. For the amount of hiking we were only at the golden summit for a matter of ten minutes before we thought it would be better to meet up with the rest of the group. We met at the restaurant and were greeted by more spicy food and numbing peppers. Numbing peppers are little peppers that look like black ground pepper, but when chewed immediately turn your entire mouth numb. Of course later on in the trip this led to a "who can get their tongue most numb" competition. Rumor has it more than 30 were eaten, but that's a different story entirely.
After lunch we proceeded to the gondola and in a few minutes were at the bottom of the mountain, in the bus and fast asleep.
We arrived a few hours later at another parking lot and were greeted with this sign:
Our "walk" aka another hour hike up to our hotel was very picturesque.
There were many tea plantations along the way and the hippie inside of me was thinking "wow the tea here is going to be so organic" no sooner did I think that, I saw an old man dressed in very traditional farming clothes, a big rice picking hat weaving in and out of the rows of tea. It was one of those "ahh I'm in china" moments, then he turned around and I saw that he had a huge pack on his back and was spraying pesticides all over the tea plants. And then I had another....ahhh I'm in china moment.
We arrived at our hotel pretty soon after. We sat outside under a canapoy. We were all boiling hot and the humidity was killing us. Not two minutes after we sat down we were immediately all served hot tea. Oh the irony.
According to our teachers this hotel was brand new and was family run. The rooms were very large and modestly furnished. The bathroom was a very strange setup however. One wall, the wall facing the rest of the room was "frosted" glass and the other wall, facing the door, was just plain glass. It was like showering in a fish bowl.
We headed outside to eat dinner, which like the past few meals was spicy. As we ate dusk quickly approached, and it was almost completely dark by the time we were finished. They cleared our dishes and returned with candles. The power was out. We all quickly ran to the only guy on the program who smoked so that we could get our candles lit, and we all headed to our rooms. To be honest it was pretty creepy, but the power came on maybe an hour later. Weall crowded in one of the rooms, minus one girl who goes to bed relatively early, and played cards. None of us could stay up too late because of the amount of hiking so we crashed pretty early, for a college student.