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Travel blog I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but I'm intercontinental and I eat French toast (Beastie Boys) | | | Photos available at www.istockphoto.com/georgeclerk

Chengdu to Emei Shan

CHINA | Saturday, 27 October 2007 | Views [13746] | Comments [4]

Thanks for all the very kind comments, but you'll be glad to know that I'm leaving soon for a mammoth journey to Lijiang (which isn't even very far away), so this one's going to be mainly pictures.

Along with the Giant Buddha in Leshan (one of the biggest in the world, but I didn't manage to make it there), one of Chengdu's biggest tourist attractions is the Giant Panda Breeding and Research centre.

Despite looking like they enjoy a bit of fun, the pandas are remarkably intolerant...

... but despite the many signs, the Chinese tourists couldn't care less. While the few Westerners there were whispering carefully to each other as they watched the pandas, most of the Chinese were clapping their hands and shouting 'HO' and 'HA', trying to get them to look at their camera.

As well as Sichuan cookery in general, Chengdu is famous for its hotpot. It's an oily broth which you cook pretty much anything in - we had whole prawns (bit too difficult to deal with using chopsticks), beef slices, lotus roots, bamboo, and lots more. Similar to the Tibetan one I had in Xian, but way hotter, and nicer too. The bottom section is the not hot fishy side, which was a nice break from the red hot other side.

I stupidly suggested that anyone dropping food in should eat a whole chilli from the hot side as a forfeit. Everyone dropped things in, but of course I was the only one made to eat a chili! At first I was quite chuffed at having managed to eat it without a problem, but five minutes later I thought I was about to die!

Apart from playing (and almost always losing) games of poker in the hostel, I liked the peoples' park a lot, where tea drinking, many different styles of dancing (some comical looking prancing in a line but taken very seriously), electric boat driving and elderly karaoke are some of the attractions. A man wielding long wires with fluffy ends and metal prongs was very keen to clean my ears, but I managed to resist.

Later on, watching other people getting their ears cleaned, it didn't look at all like the 'very comfortable' experience that he promised.

Having watched a live Chinese rocket launch (they're launched not far from Chengdu) on a propaganda-only TV set on board a packed local bus, Daniel (a Danish friend I'd made at the hostel who also wanted to head to Emei Shan next) and I got an evening bus South towards Emei Shan (which translates as 'Delicate Eyebrow Mountain') and found, with the help of a local scammer, somewhere to stay before heading up.

We decided to do the climb without the help of the many cable cars and monorails, meaning that we'd go from a starting level of about 2,000 feet, up to the 'Golden Summit' at over 10,000 feet.

Being a holy Buddhist mountain, there are lots of monasteries on the way up, all with impressive buildings containing huge golden Buddhas.

For the whole of the first day, and most of the second day, we were walking through thick cloud.

Bird on a stick for anyone?!

It wasn't until we were at the summit that we broke through it and I started to quickly get a sunburn!

We walked for about 8.5 hours on the first day, then slept at a monastery (called the Elephant Bathing Pool) on the way up, then set off at 6.30am for the shorter second day of ascending. It was a case of climbing stone steps all the way up, we must have climbed thousands of them, and for several hours of walking up the hill - once we'd cleared the 'joking monkey zone', which is full of quite large wild monkeys which will attack and steal from tourists - we didn't come across a single tourist.

Mostly we just saw these (somehow) laughing and friendly workmen, who went up and down carrying these incredibly heavy slabs of stone, resting them on their walking sticks every so often. At the the destination, their load was weighed by an official. The worst part was that it seems they were replacing a perfectly good walkway with a newer one, when nobody seems to use it anyway!

Stopping for food on the first day, I was called 'Lowai' (='foreign ghost' I think) for the first time.

After a day and a half of climbing in the clouds, suddenly joining thousands of tourists in the sunshine, fresh off the cable cars, and clutching bottles of oxygen that they'd bought in case breathing became a problem, was a bit bizarre.

Being a UNESCO world heritage site, the top of the mountain had plush loos, complete with helpful signs!

Tags: On the Road




Gorgeous pics--even the birds on a stick. Next trip, I'm definitely China bound.

  Jessamyn Nov 3, 2007 5:25 AM


Hello Lowai, :) Hi Stranger,

Greetings from Philly, from Usha, landed here through Dave's email.. I was delighted to see your travel blog, it's going right into my own(hope you wont mind), so I could check your escapades from time to time - the pictures are beautiful, George. And this blog, superb. Thanks for sharing these experiences. Love loads, Usha

  Usha Nov 6, 2007 12:46 PM


George, just caught your NZ pictures, couldnt comment for that post, so making my comments here...congrats to your sis and family on the birth of their little son, he is a cutie, looks like you had great fun with Emily and family...and also the NZ pics are superb..look forward to more...love Usha

  Usha Mar 12, 2008 2:17 AM


Hi there,

love to read ur travel blog, I was called 'Lowai' (='foreign ghost' I think) for the first time.

"Lao Wai" is old outsider no matter you are young or old they also will called u Lao Wai... foreign ghost is cantonese called Kuai Lou....from what i understand...=P

  kelneoh May 16, 2011 5:51 PM

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