I had to get off the train.
The duck intestines I had in my Chengdu hot pot a day earlier were finally catching up to mine. While the 114 local from to Chengdu to Kunming was an adventure in itself, I picked a stop by chance just to break up the journey.
Emeishan. 峨眉山. Or Mt. Emei.
Little did I know Emeishan is one of those places you see in the tourism videos when you’re tired of watching Hollywood flops on the plane.
Emeishan is a sacred Buddhist mountain with dozens of temples and monasteries, the oldest dating back to the first century BC, way before the days of good hiking boots and Northface jackets. Tourists can walk fifty km to the gold Samantabhadra statue that tops the summit like a plastic bride on a wedding cake. But not me.
Since my trip was impromptu, I decided not to cram 75 temples in two days. Instead, I wandered around the temples at the foot of the mountain, making a pilgrimage to the Sacred Pool of Underpants.
Kids stripped down to their skivvies and plunged into the cool streams to get a break from Sichuan’s heat…heat that’s akin to being inside of a bag of microwave popcorn.
Captain Underpants was more memorable than any gold bellied Buddha. I saw this kid when I first arrived splashing from ten in the morning until I left at five. If I wasn’t wearing granny panties, I might’ve joined him.
A day and a half and five bucks is all you need to kick back at the bottom of the mountain. That includes temple fees and a refreshing pot of tea at a riverside café.
You can visit the Luofeng Nunnery or Fu Hu Temple. The steps moss covered, the cicadas ignore the “be quiet” signs and monkeys are known to be kleptomaniacs.
As I wiggled my toes in the cooling waters, a stream of curious onlookers came up to me to practice their English or their duck face.
Along with your selfie stick, you’ll want to bring a wad of cash. Buses, cable cars, and park entry fee will cost about $75. Or, you can take a Chinese Uber, otherwise known as a hand carriage chair.
Emeishan is a UNESCO World Heritage site, meaning, it’s one of the places aliens from another galaxy would travel light years to see.
If you’re travelling on the cheap like me, you can book a clean room at sites like Agoda.com for under twenty bucks, hostels being less. Prices soar with the elevation, so if you’re hiking to the top, book in advance and bring a wad of cash, whether you choose a swank hotel or modest monastery.
And if you’re plan on swimming? Bring something other than dingy underpants.
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