Day 28 / Day 12 ACEC
This was the day of our planned hike in Mt Emei. There is an entry fee to access the mountain hiking trails and this was included as part of our tour. The day was dry, and the weather was quite pleasant, though it had rained the night before. Apparently it rains pretty much nightly in this area!
There are a multitude of hiking trails on Mt Emei, with marked steps and paths in abundance (there is thick vegetation everywhere, so unsure you could really do a casual hike straying off said paths) and the one us three Brits ended up doing was one that took us via a few temples, the viewpoint at Niuxin pavilion and also to an area full of monkeys (named on our provided tourist map as the ‘Joking Monkey Zone’)!
We didn’t go too close to the monkeys though (many other tourists did, and many locals!), given that they can get aggressive and bite and attempt to steal belongings. In fact, we were each issued with our own bamboo stick before the hike and told it was to ward off unruly monkeys (none of us had to use our sticks for this purpose, though they proved useful for uphill walking!). We also witnessed a woman being administered basic first aid to a small monkey bite at a makeshift shelter clearly built out of need at the base of the area the monkeys inhabit.
The part of the walk that took us to the monkeys was especially beautiful, as we walked along a crystal clear rushing stream (well, a large stream or a small river) that sat in a lush valley.
We’d brought a packed lunch along with us and ate on the go. The lunch was put together from a local supermarket the previous day and one of the items vaguely worth mentioning was a roll with a jam-type filling – these are sold in abundance and are packed interestingly, with lots of air sealed inside.
The hike was good but exhausting and in the evening (after another awesome dinner at ‘Home Sweet Home’), Patrick drove us to some amazing natural hot springs at a resort – I regret to say I am unsure of the name, but seriously, just look Patrick up and he’ll sort it for you! – which wasn’t included and cost about £12 each, which was an alright price. At the hot springs, towels, robes, shampoo, shower gel, hairdryers and even a hair serum thing are all provided – though the toilets, as ever, leave a lot to be desired. The hot springs themselves were deliciously soothing after our climb, and there were lots and lots of different types to try!
Day 29 / Day 13 ACEC
We boarded a public bus (really, an air conditioned coach) to Chongqing in the morning, where we were due to board our cruise boat on the Yangste river. There was only one weird incident, and that was when we were all made to get off the bus for fifteen minutes whilst the bus passed a ‘security check’. Even our tour facilitator Jakkie was a bit confused – security checks on / before highways I think are reasonably common, but passengers aren’t usually asked to get off. We also got a bit worried when our conductress (all public long distance buses/coaches seem to have a conductor here) wandered off as well…but, after about fifteen minutes, we were ushered back onto the bus and on our way. Actually, I’ve just remembered another incident. On getting on the coach initially it transpired that two people, including one in our tour group, had been sold the same seat ticket (yeah, all the tickets had assigned seats on the coach) – but luckily there was enough room for all, so it turned out okay!
During the fifteen minutes, an elderly lady taking a walk wandered up to our group and via Jakkie asked where we were all from. She also, interestingly, asked what the relationship between the (clearly white) British lady and myself (clearly brown) was – Jakkie explained to us afterwards ‘you all look the same to them’!
The bus journey was pretty comfortable. On arriving to Chongqing, the plan was to disembark and to walk to the nearby taxi rank and grab a taxi to the pier, where we would be boarding our Yangste river cruise. However, Dave had discovered that the world’s first League of Legends themed restaurant existed in Chongqing – so of course, being as he is a massive fan, we had to try to visit!
Jakkie was brilliant and looked up the address for us online, writing it and a few other nearby landmarks down on a piece of paper in Chinese so we could get a taxi there. She also wrote down the name of the pier so we could get a taxi back once we had visited the restaurant, and said she and the others would take our luggage with them.
We were SO grateful to her for facilitating our wishes. It’s such a shame the evening ended up a total disaster! It was a series of unfortunate events. To start with, once the taxi driver dropped us off, we had no idea in which of the many surrounding malls the restaurant was. We kept showing our piece of paper to locals and went round in circles (knowing we had to be back by 8pm given that’s when the ferry was leaving!) before realising the building we wanted was one of the first we had spotted, even though it didn’t appear to bear the correct name.
Once we found it, we packed into an unassuming lift with a lot of locals up to the food court, still a bit dubious. Then, we wandered around for ages, before coming across the below and deducing that the place had been locked up and quite possibly was shut down for good.
THEN, after consoling Dave, we headed to a nearby pizza hut (still had to eat, obviously) where we had an uncomplicated meal (woohoo)…and then after, tried to get a taxi, which was another miserable experience. For ages, we couldn’t flag one down from the main road, before realising it was because there was a taxi rank that we hadn’t spotted. We joined the ridiculously long queue at the rank around seven, getting really apprehensive that we were going to miss our boat – but luckily, by half seven we were in a taxi and on our way.
We reached some steps leading down to a pier at five to eight – as we had not seen it before, we couldn’t be 100% sure it was the right one. Now, anticipating this, Jakkie had written down her number and said for us to get the driver to ring her so she could come and fetch us. The taxi driver, despite clearly understanding our hand signals and the fact we were showing him a phone number even if he didn’t understand our words, flatly refused to ring her, and kept shouting at us. He got quite angry, actually, and it’s probably one of the times I’ve felt most hopeless on our trip. In the end, we simply paid and got out of the taxi, me desperately trying to ring Jakkie (knew it would cost a fortune as only had my UK sim but what choice did I have?) – and then, as he was driving off, I realised the phone wouldn’t connect…but luckily, at that second, a text came through from Jakkie asking where we were and I also spotted her at the bottom of the steps, next to a boat.
I cannot describe the relief we felt at having made the boat – it was written all over Jakkie’s face as well.
So, the next post will be about our cruise on the Yangste River! And, if any LoL fans out there can shed light on why the restaurant appeared closed, that would be cool.
Thanks for stopping by!