Elephant No. 12: Emei 

Last week we went to climb one of China’s four sacred mountains, Mt. Emei. The climb lasted two days, and by two days, I mean two days of walking up steps pretty much all the way – not quite the mountain stroll I had been envisaging but we were rewarded with some of the most stunning views that I have ever seen, through misty clouds and over dramatic forested peaks. We also combined our climb with staying in two Buddhist temples, one in Baoguo village at the foot of the mountain, and one perched on a crag half way up. This latter temple, Xixiangchi, was a particularly special experience, with nothing connecting it to the outside apart from a path of steps leading upwards, and another leading downwards. There were steep drops on either side, and when the cloud came up, all we could see was whiteness stretching in either direction. It was also a great place to watch a sunrise over the mountains, if slightly blurry-eyed from a night of less than excellent sleep in hard temple beds!  (more…)