Emeishan – Hongzhushan to Hongchun Temple

Emeishan – Hongzhushan to Hongchun Temple

Our hike up Emeishan started at Hongzhushan Hotel at 9:45 am after a
very hearty Chinese breakfast of noodles, buns, and fruit from the
hotels buffet. The trail starts just above our hotel (at an altitude
of 550 meters), where you have to pay a fee of 150 RMB (80 for
students like us!) to enter the world heritage Emeishan Mountain. The
ticket is only good for two days, however, and since we were going to
take three days to climb the 8350 feet (to an altitude of 3070 meters)
we were a little concerned that we'd get caught on the mountain with
expired tickets. Since the gatekeepers didn't speak English, we never
found out what to do. Interestingly, they snap your photo before you
enter the park. It must be a part of the Chinese governments attempts
to track every visitor in China (your passport is also copied for
government records every time you go to a hotel). The hike starts
with a 150 meter climb (about 450 feet) to Chunyang Temple and then
much to our annoyance, proceeds back down hill to Qingyin Temple,
erasing all the hard work we put into climbing that 150 meters.

On the way to the Qingyin Temple we ran into two Chinese families who
were traveling to Senshui Temple to pay their respects. They were
very interested in our travels and curious as to why we were carrying
these big heavy backpacks and what we thought of China. They were fun
to talk to and also provided some much needed directions, preventing
us from getting lost several times. Past the Qingyin Temple we ran
into the "Monkey Habitat" where signs sternly warn you not to feed the
monkeys as it is dangerous... needless to say, there were dozens of
vendors selling specially formulated monkey food which you were
encouraged to feed to the monkeys (… hey... anything for a profit
right?). Throughout the monkey habitat there are monkey keepers with
big sticks that protect you from unruly monkeys. Needless to say,
Julia was still attacked, with one monkey jumping onto her back in an
attempt to rip the contents out of her backpack in the search for
food. Luckily a big stick wielding monkey keeper was there to scare
the monkey off. They encourage you to travel through the area before 5
pm, as afterwards the monkey keepers go home for the evening, leaving
you alone with hundreds of hungry and possibly angry monkeys.

From the start of the hike it took us 4 hours and 40 minutes to walk
(including breaks, photo taking, and monkey watching/avoiding) from
the base of the mountain to Honchun Ping temple, which is located
beyond the monkey habitat at an altitude of 1120 meters. Following a
nice warm shower in the open gym style showers, we sat and listened to
the monks chant and ring bells at 4pm. It was a very relaxing
experience. Feeling a little hungry, we decided to get dinner at the
humorously named "Hard Wok Cafe" (located just down the trail from the
temple), from which the cheery Betty (she's Chinese but has adopted an
English name for her visitors) serves up wonderful dishes. We had
Sweet and Sour Pork, chicken with peanuts, rice, and a pancake with
apple, banana, and honey. We found the first day to be fairly easy
going despite the long day of hiking. That night we slept at the
monastery (45 RMB per person for a double), which was an interesting
experience. The rooms are very basic... essentially two beds, a
blanket and a pillow each, no heating and lots of holes in the wall to
ensure that the rooms are nice and cold. We found the Hongchun Temple
to be very enjoyable and especially enjoyed their chingrish signage.
One of which read something like "Hongchun has a strange phenomenon
called dawn drizzle"... I think the rest of the world has heard of it
and calls it fog... but I could be wrong.

- Scott