Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Evil Monkeys of Emei Shan

Qingyin PavillionRoosters were still crowing and the weather was on the cool side when I left my hostel this morning. The plan was to hike a good portion of Emei Shan. The trail I had in mind would take me exactly to where I started yesterday, so in effect I would have hiked the entire mountain. More importantly, that trail passed the Qingyin Pavillion, which was in the set of photos I saw of China that inspired this trip.

I was going at a pretty good pace until I got to the Qingyin Pavillion. There I was not only stopped by the gazebo that I wanted to photograph, but also by some amazing rock carvings and a pretty waterfall. I must have spent an hour just taking photos in that location.

As I continued up, I realized it was going to be a very long day. I think hiking rock carved steps is harder than hiking on a dirt trail; I was really starting to feel my calves and knees.

Tibetan MacaquesThe mountain is home to many Tibetan Macaques. I passed by a number of signs warning that there would be wild monkeys on the trail and that you should be traveling with partners. Also, the locals suggest you carry a bamboo stick or a slingshot as a way of warding them off. I had neither and I really didn’t think the monkeys would be a problem.

They’re not that big, but some are pretty aggressive and have giant teeth. I walked passed a few without any problems, but one chose to grab my pants and seemed to want to climb up my leg. It also started making hissing sounds and showing its teeth. A lady who was nearby warded it off with her bamboo stick. This made me a bit intimidated. I think they just got used to people being passive and scared of them.

During my next monkey encounter, I decided to try something different. A big one noticed me and started walking towards me, so in an effort to scare it I ran towards it. It changed its path and circled around me. When it was behind me it started approaching me again. I turned around as it circled me. It showed me its teeth and started hissing so, I did the same to it. It turned around and walked away!

Views from about a quarter of the way upI didn’t have any monkey encounters after that, but I had a very long hike, with over 2,000 meters of elevation gain on seemingly never-ending steps. It also started to snow and I ran out of water. Running out of things was not a bit deal on this trail as there are a lot of food stands, I just had to haggle for a reasonable price.

When I finally reached my destination, I was so relieved! It was great exercise and great scenery, but much too long. I feel quite worn out and will be taking it easy tomorrow.

Qingyin Pavillion:

Qingyin Pavillion

Stone carvings at Qingyin Pavillion

Waterfall at Qingyin Pavillion

Tibetan Macaques (evil monkeys):

Tibetan Macaques

Tibetan Macaques

Goods for the food stands:

Goods for the food stands

Xianfeng Tempe (1752m):

Xianfeng Temple

Elephant Bathing Pool Temple (2070m):

Elephant Bathing Pool Temple

Elephant Bathing Pool

Views near my destination:

The view near my destination