Tuesday, December 16, 2008

12.11.08: Emei Shan

In the morning, we made our way back down Emei Shan, this time taking a more leisurely pace and getting to fully appreciate the glorious jade jungle, incredibly fresh air, and waterfalls.

We stopped for breakfast at the cleverly named Hard Wok Cafe about 1/4 way down the 1,200 steps. We had also eaten there the night before, as the curious establishment was the only restaurant for miles. It was a strangle little place, perched on a stone platform, under a tent, in the middle of the jungle. All of their supplies had to be schlepped through the woods and up all those stairs each day. Needless to say, the sweet couple who ran the place were glad for our low-season patronage.

(The kitchen at Hard Wok Cafe)

When we reached the end of our walk (It felt more like a walk than a hike on the way down), we headed back to the Bao Guo monastery and prepared for a well-deserved treat: a trip to the local hot springs.

The hot springs were run by a 5-star hotel, and the facilities were gorgeous. The super hot, clean, high-pressured shower--my first decent bathing experience in almost two weeks--was worth the entrance fee alone. The main area consisted of a dry sauna, swimming pool, a vat of little fishies meant to nibble away your dead skin, and about 15 small hot tubs of varying temperatures and conditions. (One, for example, was meant to be good for your liver.) Half of the tubs were outside along s wooden boardwalk, and we spent most of the afternoon in an especially hot stone pool, with a little waterfall running into it, overlooking a pretty pond. Not sure whether it was the gurgling water I heard, or our aching muscles whispering, "Thank you, thank you," but either way, the hot springs were the icing on the cake of a beautiful couple days.

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