Emei Shan – Golden Summit
Having followed the Canadian girl’s advice to take the bus up Emei Shan, we got to the near-top and went straight for the cable car. The 3-minute ride to the Golden Summit temple complex saved us two hours of walking. Once we stepped off the cable car along with fifty Chinese tourists, it was a mere 15-minute walk uphill to the summit at an altitude of 3077 m (10150 feet). I was in awe when I saw the tall golden temple with elephants at each corner sticking out of the fog and visitors running in every direction – although, this is not apparent from the photos as the number of visitors and amount of fog changed dramatically from minute to minute.
In addition to making offerings in the form of burning incense or lighting candles at the Golden Summit Temple (Jinding Si), most people come here to take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, if weather permits. And this is a big IF.
During our five hours on the summit, the weather changed from simply overcast, to I-cannot-see-my-own-hand-foggy, to blindingly sunny, back to overcast and even rain. While it was raining, we hid inside the tall golden temple walking in the Buddhist tradition clockwise around an enormous Buddha statue. I was close to the point of enlightenment when the monk inside started screaming at a bunch of Chinese tourist who were snapping pictures and talking on their cell phones while walking counterclockwise – a big Buddhist taboo.
As soon as the sun came out, we walked from viewpoint to viewpoint and even experienced the rare phenomenon called the Buddha’s Halo where rainbow rings show up around a person’s shadow in the cloud sea below the summit. According to some guide books, devout Buddhists would sometimes jump off the cliffs upon seeing Buddha’s Halo thinking this was a call from beyond. Give me a parachute and I may think about it.
Golden Summit is the end point for most pilgrims and tourists but for us, who chose the path of least resistance, this was the starting point for our hike down.