A real quick blog today as I have about 25 minutes before we are due to leave the hotel and set off through the Monkey Forest. No technology again for a few days so it’s now or never.
The plane eventually took off four hours late yesterday, which meant that we had to cut short our visit to the largest stone Buddha in the world. Instead of taking the 333 steps up to the top of the Buddha’s head and then the 333 steps back down (numerically significant although I don’t know why) which takes about 2.5 hours, we embarked on a rusty cruise boat which took only 40 minutes.
The largest stone Buddha in the world
The Buddha sits on a confluence of three major rivers and the flow is incredibly swift for such a large expanse of inland water. Wearing our cute orange lifejackets, we were swept down to a gap in the sandstone, to catch a swift glimpse of the 71m high statue. It took 90 years to build and is over 1000 years old. Prior to tourism hitting the area, the locals would meet on the feet of the Buddha and play Mahjong. They now, like everybody else, have to pay to get close. (Unless you are an ex-servicemen, over 70 or under 1.1m…so the sign tells us).
The boat turns round in the current and then fights it’s way back to allow the hungry horde of snappers their opportunity. A mixture of Chinese families and western tourists, everyone wants the right spot on the side of the boat and a friendly jostle ensued.
The hand of Buddha
The face of Buddha
Then it was onto Emei Shan where we are staying at the nicest hotel of the trip so far. It is also home to a horde of German tourists and is without doubt the most touristic spot we have been to so far. The hotel is surrounded by waterfalls and gorgeous carved Buddha images in the red sandstone.. (no piccies due to not taking the camera with me as I went to the shop). It is also without doubt the most expensive laundry stop I have ever experienced in all my travels. More than $30 Australian for 10 pieces. Spud and Kelly (The Perth crew), had to fork out 500 Yuan or just under $100 for their load. Incredible when everything else is much cheaper than Australia. And then they mixed the loads together, so we had to sort out who had what when it was returned…
The hotel also has a hot springs right next to it with five or six different pools and last night for about three hours, some of us took the opportunity to wallow in hot bubbling water and experience the most incredible feeling of hundreds of fish nibbling away at our dead skin.
The sensation at first is decidedly strange. If you sit completely still they mass around you and it is as if you are being tickled in a thousand tiny spots at once. My skin afterwards was smoother than it has been since I was about five. A fantastic experience, one of the highlights of the trip so far.
Today, Money Forest and Temple touring… I am two minutes late already…