Myself and young Sophie hadn't had enough knackeration of our knees after scaling Tiger Leaping Gorge so we undertook a giant jaunt by bus and by train over mountain, glen, landslide and river, thru the grim city of Panzihua, the skankiest most polluted place i've ever seen, to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province. This area is famed for it's hot-hot-hot food, and we had a few horse's helpings of that before making our pilgrimage to the sacred Emei Shan Mountain. This mountain is covered from top to bottom in Buddhist monastaries, and by the looks of it, a permanent thick layer of mist. Now, I know these monks like to test themselves, but for fucksake, this is a bit extreme. We started off yesterday afternoon, barging our way thru 93 busloads of Han Chinese tourists and climbed staircase after stone stair case for over 4 hours solid, going pretty hard at it, nae tother a baw - although I did sweat so profusely the entire way that I soaked all the clothing and thru spinal seepage, most of the clothing in my rucksack
! We arrived at our lodgings for the night, a mist enshrouded monastry, high up on some isolated peak - "Magic Peak" or some bollox. The moody munters at reception charged us a bloody fortune for a stinking mouldy pit of room with scabby windows, moist matresses and damp fucking bedding. After my earlier sweat attacks, and the fact the shower was minus five degress, the last thing I wanted was a WET FUCKING BED TO SLEEP IN FOR $15! Anyway, I can handle all this shit - nae tother a baw. So next day we woke up in a sticky stench to Chinese kids (and adults) banging sticks off our walls, flicking our lights on and off and, in their normal way - like flocks of squabbling seagulls - constantly arguing loud as hell. We remortgaged our backpacks to afford the rank breakfast, then tramped off down the otherside of the peak. When we got to the bottom of that particular peak, in my
usual style, I realised I'd left my money belt with 2000 Yuan, my passport, all my cards and travellers cheques and anything of any importance under my bed in the monastary! So I sprinted back uphill, with top off, wheezing like a beeatch, got almost all the way back up to be greeted by a policeman with a big smile and aw ma shit - great! My luck is changing....
.... so I thought. Endless stairways... Plod plod plod, 200 steps above, plod plod plod, up down, up down, over every fucking peak, plod plod plod, mist all around, 200 steps more greet us round every damn corner, plod plod plod, test those mad monks, break their will, snap that endurance, plod plod plod, we're enveloped in mist, can't see shit, monkeys attack, mischeivous little bastards had designs on my daypack..
. "ohh - what's that - Tom's new camera - let's nick it!". Had to beat them off with my water bottle, geez they're scary wee bastards these Long-Fanged Tibetan Macaque Fighting Monkeys! - not like my adorable Bolivian Capuchins! On we plod, 500,000 steps more, all we can see is the trees around us, if we're lucky a foggy summit dimly silhouted in the ocean of cloud, a few Chinese tourists on "monkey teasing platforms", eermm teasing the monkeys(!??)... guards beating the same monkeys with sticks and belts - no wonder they're so agressive! Anyway, we got to the top (nearly). Apparently there are incredible views from monastaries teetering on lofty crags, but alas, we were actually inside
the cloud, so could only see about 10m! With that in mind, we hastily got the first bus we could find(they had built a road to the top of this 3000m high mountain!) to the nearest dry bed and drank 6 bottles of beer in quick succession.
It's still raining.
A torrid tale of Mad Monks, Moody Munters, Monkey Mischeif, Murky Megalopoli, Misty Monastaries, Moist Matresses and Monotonous Mountain Meandering: