We continue to move further away from the immensely populated areas of China and more into the countryside to appreciate the natural beauty that the country has to offer.
The relatively small town of Emei is built in the foothills of the mountain of the same name and it has a comparatively peaceful feel to it, at least by Chinese standards. A waterfall cascades down into the central pedestrianised area (though we later find out it isn’t natural as it was turned off at night) helping to create a relaxed feel and the people feel like they have a bit more time to take things at a slower pace.
Our ‘hotel’ for the duration of our stay provides a strong challenge for the title of “Most Unusual Accommodation of the trip” (though the floating islands of Lake Titicaca will take some beating) and significantly contribute to our sense of tranquility. We are staying at Bao Gao Temple, a fully operational Buddhist Monastery complete with a full complement of monks going about their daily routine seemingly oblivious to the presence of a 10 strong tour group of westerners. The less than opulent of conditions are more than made up for by the ambience and a chance to witness the monks at close quarters, including being able to watch their morning chants without the presence of any other tourists.
A 18km walk up a knee-achingly high number of steps to visit some of the temples and viewpoints of Mt. Emei provides an opportunity to stretch our legs, get some much needed fresh air and see the beautiful landscapes when the mist allowed. Aching legs and tired bodies are recuperated by a few cold beers in a local bar (the boys) or a few hours in the local hot springs (the girls), topped of with the guilty pleasure of burger and chips for dinner.