Sleeping in a Monastery

Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Friday, November 4, 2011

Emeishan, China - Arriving into Emei town, we were expecting a cute little place and then Emeishan to be like a little village. Like most expectations in China, I was wrong. The city is huge and so is the place at the bottom of the mountain!

We arrive into Emeishan and call our hostel, Teddy Bear hostel, for a pick up. We were unaware that a guy called Andy just walks around the corner and greets you, the website gives the impression of picking us up in his truck. We ate like kings preparing for another climb. We would be climbing 12 hours of stairs over two days!! Why are we doing this? No idea!! Lauren went to bed early and I stayed up chatting to a sweet British couple.

Next morning we rose early, ate a pot noodle breakfast and caught a bus to the start of our trail, sorry, staircase! Sadly, again, someone could read our student cards were driving licences so we sucked up and paid the 150 yen entry fee! I also bought a pole to help me hike, it cost ten pence and would work out to be a superb investment. I was able to transfer my weight to the pole so my legs wouldn't suffer as much. 

The start of the climb was beautiful. A local man helped us navigate along a river to save us climbing stairs. We saw small cascades, hawkers setting up shop and monkeys! Monkeys everywhere! Sat on the fence next to the paths waiting to strike! If you hold a stone and pretend to throw the stone, then they move away. Only one big one snarled at me, they've been known to jump on tourists who have food on show or bottles sticking out the side of back packs. For example, if you reach into your pocket to pull out your camera, they think you have food and will pounce on you! A few Chinese ahead of us had bottles stolen! It was funny but also a little scary! 

The heavens opened and it rained all day! While trying to keep dry, you were also suffering from heating up due to the physical exertion! I used my rain jacket and Lauren bought one of those day plastic ones. Then the climbing began! Because we were mentally prepared for it, it was not as bad as the climb of Hua Shan. To make matters better, it was incredibly misty, so you could barely see the top of a staircase so there was always the hope that there might be a flat walk for a few seconds. This rarely came to fruition but it was good to hope! The stairs were not as steep and some were well staggered!

We climbed for a few hours before we stopped for a cold and wet lunch! I fed a little white cat some nuts and ate some very tasteless sausages! We continued on, bumping into some friendly people while all the time keeping good conversation. I felt great, I led most of the way and felt I could climb to the top that day! 


A monastery we were going to sleep at was a stop for a drink. We felt good so continued on and aimed for the Elephant Bathing Monastery.

After seven hours of walking up stairs, in wet clothes, in the cold, my body started to shut down. I then becomes a mental challenge, this next staircase or these next steps. I thought about my favourite films, plot lines, actors and tried to distract myself from the pain but it was no good. We walked the last two hours with a young Chinese couple. We got to a restaurant called the elephant bathing restaurant and I thought I was there. No! Another twenty minutes later we got to that monastery. The Chinese couple carried on but my legs had switched off, my mind gone to jelly and I needed to get out if these wet clothes!

The monastery was only 40 yen each per night, they came with cold windy bedrooms but electric blankets! Our room had five beds and we used the other three to dry our clothes! Never slept with an electric blanket before but it felt good. We had an entertaining early supper, which basically consisted of noodles and some rice but we had a supply of treats in the room! By 5pm I was fast asleep in my bed! 

I was woken by a noisy Chinese group! Shouting and screaming down the hallway to the other rooms! So rude! Soon Lauren drifted off to sleep and I read. It wasn't the best sleep in the world but it was a welcome break from the stair master!!

Next morning we were rudely woken up by the noisy Chinese group at 5am. We did head out at 6am to continue on but when they saw Lauren and I they went quiet, I took one look at them and made a loud roaring noise. I continued this noise all the way down the corridor. Lauren found it funny.

It was pitch black outside so we continued in the wet and misty conditions with a torch until the darkness lifted. We stopped at 7am at a little snack hut for breakfast. We had noodles in broth with an egg and some sliced sausage pieces. It was perfect although we were very cold. Then the Chinese group turned up again and just shout all the time. Instead of talking to each other, they shout at each other!! Another random loud noise from me seemed to quiet things down. I guess Lauren and I enjoyed being away from large noisy cities and were enjoying the peaceful nature of the mountain area. 


We pushed on till we reached the bottom of the cable car. This is where the lazy tourists can catch a bus to this point then a cable car to the summit. Seeing as Lauren and I had made it this far, we plodded on. Our legs were tired, we were soaking wet again and started to dream of hot showers, warm beds and food, other than noodles!!

After a combined 12 hours of climbing stairs, we reached the golden summit and I heard it again. The Amelie soundtrack. My lovely couchsurfing host in Birmingham, AL, Carrie played a track on her accordion. Sweet Claire in Jackson, MS let me download the soundtrack when I damaged my last itouch. My cheeky monkey of a nephew enjoyed the soundtrack while we toured a kitchen outlet, chatted to some nice ladies and enjoyed free muffins. Now, at the top of Emeishan in China, a food vendor has the album on a continuous loop. When I work out the meaning I'll let you know, but more likely, coincidence.

It took three hours to descend Emeishan. An hour on foot and two on a bus that wound around the mountain, with two people throwing up out the window. Teddy Bear hostel were unhelpful in helping us return to Chengdu but we made it back. We ate delicious food, took a hot shower and went to bed early, dry, warm and absolutely shattered! I slept in till 2pm the next day, while Lauren went to see some pandas. The following morning I met my Dutch friend Emma for breakfast as she just arrived in Chengdu and then boarded a 30 hour train to Shanghai. 

I also said goodbye to Lauren. It's not often you meet a suitable travel buddy but we rubbed on each other well. She's fun to be around, very social, very kind and has a great adventurous spirit. I thoroughly enjoyed her company and listening to her stories and luckily, she put up with me!!

Next stop, Shanghai.
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Dave on

That sounds like torture!

Maureen Faulkner on

I wish I had just some of your energy,I have trouble just climbing the stairs.
Your writeing makes it feel as if we are with you.Take care.

Kimberly on

Everything happens for a reason...I'm sure you'll figure out the meaning of the Amelie soundtrack someday.

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