Saturday, August 27, 2005

How Do You Like Your Bud Sir? Big!!

Ouch, my legs hurt. I've just spent the past 2 days walking up (and down) Emei Shan (or mount Emei). Emei Shan is the tallest of China's four, sacred Buddhist mountains (China has 9 sacred mountains: 4 Buddhist and 5 Taoist), at 3100m. The whole mountain is studded with steps all the way from the base to the summit. I've tried finding a definitive number with no success, but suffice to say that it lies in the region of the many tens of thousands. This makes the ascent, and the descent as well for that matter, technically unchallenging, but knackering in the extreme. This being China, though, there's a road and monorail all the way to the top, and if you do feel you have to take the pedestrian, pilgrimage option, then you can always hire a palanquin and reach the top like royalty (for a price of course). These options all insulted my fine, backpackers' sensibilities, and so I decided to rough it and walk all the way to the top. The spectacular views were unfortunately slightly muted due to a visibility of barely more than 50m, but the visible bits were still very pretty and I was also glad for the exercise. Apart from the many monasteries that dot the mountainside one of the top attractions on Emei Shan is its population of Tibetan macaques. The cheeky little monkeys (though some of the males can get rather sizeable) terrorise tourists by grabbing any loose food and bottles off them, or even ripping any plastic bags they may be carrying. It's actually quite amusing and appeals to my sense of schadenfreude. I did get a taste of my own medicine whilst walking in a remote part of the mountain when I got ambushed by a large male who noticed me munching on an apple. It was quite alarming when he started pulling at my trousers and baring his teeth, but I would be damned if he was going to get my apple. When I started kicking the bastard he noticed a group of Chinese tourists further down the path that constituted a much easier target and so he left me alone.

Included within the same UNESCO complex (I'm on a world heritage collecting spree at the moment) as Emei Shan is the Buddha of the nearby town of Leshan. This seated bud, built 1200 years ago, is the tallest stone Bud in the world. Measuring 71m from top to toe, his ears are 7m long and even his fingernails are bigger than I am. He was built overlooking a section of rapids on the Dadu River in the hope that his presence would help save sailors from the treacherous waters, which in fact he did. So much stone was dislodged and dumped into the river during his construction that the rapids were tamed. (Maybe there is something to this Buddhism malarkey after all?)

1 comment:

No Name said...

Oh wow, that is impressive.

Good for you!! I of course and stuck at home-lol-but that's cool :)

Good luck in all your trips...

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