With the Mid-Autumn Festival and its accompanying three-day weekend coming up, InternChina Chengdu decided that the time was ripe for a trek up the classically scenic Mount Emei (峨眉山).
Bleary-eyed and hung-over, we took an early bus from Chengdu to the town of Emei, just at the foot of the mountain. Upon our arrival, we fuelled up with lunch in a quaint restaurant, were treated to an animal butchery show in that very same restaurant. Afterwards, we armed ourselves with our trusted travel companions and set off.
And so we began our epic journey, ten companions and one goal: The Golden Summit. The only thing that could stop us was… well… 4,000m of uphill steps, rain, landslides, rocks tumbling, slippages and scores of monkeys. However, despite the daunting prospect of reaching the top, we were in awe of the stunning scenery.
The journey wasn’t just milling around pretty waterfalls and valleys. There was a lot of suspense involved too. By suspense I mean dodging jumping monkeys on a wooden and rope drawbridge whilst surrounded by tourists who were teasing them. Once we’d broken through the pandemonium (and a long stretch of torrential rain), we arrived at our stop for the night- Xianfeng Monastery.
Staying in the monastery was as peaceful an experience as one might expect, except oddly enough I personally didn’t see any monks during my stay (?). Day two began by waking up and God-knows-when and setting off at crazy-o-clock up what’s called ‘99 bends’. I didn’t count them. It would have been mental torture. Nevertheless we soldiered up, met some nice Chinese tourists, passed another monastery and eventually reached the clouds.
Yes clouds. We were walking through clouds. It was a very surreal and, ignore the pun, mystifying experience. However, by this time of many for us the trek was beginning to take its toll physically. After having lunch at one of the stop points, we decided to split the group: some pushed on the summit while the others meandered along a few hours behind to cop out and take the cable car.
The last stretch after the cable car station was by far the hardest. We were down to half our original number and were skimming it for time. We walked and we climbed and we despaired at being told we still had many kilometres to go. But then, as if by a miracle, we could see the blue sky again and within half an hour we had made it to the Golden Summit. The sun was full on our faces and we had a spectacular view above the clouds. Considering that only happens on a few days in September, I’d say we were pretty lucky.