Belated honeymoon

8 Oct

It’s cold, dark and 2.30am on the 1st October 2012. This is absurd. Who the funk wakes up this early for breakfast? The Chinese of course. It seemed like a good idea at the time, day trip to Emei Mountain. I forgot that this was China, I didn’t take into account that their ‘day’ started at 2.30am. I try not to choke on my steamed bun and gulp down some more warm congee. My husband tries to look alert but fails to fool me, he’s staring into the kitchen and thinking the same thing as me. Why?

As we exit the hotel I realize that we were already a step behind. The bus stop looked like the main stage at Glastonbury with Madonna headlining. An old lady sold us bamboo sticks, useful for hiking and beating beastly children. I exhaled my final breath of logic and reasoning as we were crammed into the bus. Luckily for me, Chinese people aren’t very tall so I didn’t have to suffer the fate of an armpit facial.

When we reached the gates of Emei mountain, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hundreds of people already milling around the car park. Families, couples, crazy people. I looked up at the moon. Oh yeah. It was Mid-Autumn Festival yesterday, I mean a few hours ago. The moon looked especially significant, not only because of the festival but also because there wasn’t much lighting.

If you have ever traveled around China during the October Holiday, you’ll know that it’s all people mountain people sea. The queue for the cable car was long and constantly grew from the middle. Fights broke out and I nearly killed a particularly annoying boy, who’s father was doing a piss poor job of keeping the kid in line. If only my bamboo stick had some nine inch nails sticking out of it.

The cable car took us to a point somewhere on the mountain. We had to amble off to another point to take yet another cable car up to the peak. The only sources of light came from the moon, mobile phones and small torches. You quite literally had to go with the flow of people, it reminded me of my teens spent in mosh pits – except there weren’t any cool bands playing and I was being kept afloat by a mob of crazy Chinese tourists. I would have crowd-surfed my way to the front of the queue if I don’t think they’d throw me off the mountain.

All this craziness and what for? As we ride the cable car to the peak I am surprised by all the smiley faces. They’re waiting for something. All these insane Chinese people grinning in anticipation as they look towards a warm glow in the grey clouds. What were they waiting for? Sunrise. Of course they were. Why else would half of China wake up at crazy o’clock to be rammed in the same creaky cable car as me? I still have much to learn about this alleged culture of mine.

When we reached the top of Emei mountain, my husband was a little disappointed by the fog but I thought it added an extra dimension. As we walked through the milky air, the Golden Summit Temple slowly revealed itself.

We kept walking and my husband asked if I could see it. See what? What was this man on about? I could feel that there was something big up ahead but I couldn’t quite see it. I slowed down and edged forward as the hairs on the back of my everything stood on end. My eyes traveled upwards for ever as a giant statue of Samantbhadra loomed dramatically over me. So this is how awe feels.

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