Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Tibet | Samye Monastery

After Emei Shan I returned to Chengdu and then on December 27 winged on to Tibet. From the airport we drove straight to Samye Monastery and stayed there for three days. Lots of pilgrims there from all over Tibet.

One of the stupas at Samye

Also visited the nearby retreat center of Samye Chimpu. This is where the founder of Buddhist in Tibet, Padmasambhava, lived for awhile. Now over 300 people from all over Tibet are doing retreats here, most of them women.

Main Temple at Chimpu, built over the entrance to Padmasambhava’s retreat cave

Pilgrims at Chimpu

China | Sichuan Province | Emei Shan

The next day I took a bus to Emei Shan, about three hours from Chengdu. Spent the rest of the day visiting the temples a the base of the mountain.

Temple at the base of Emei Shan

Statue of Kuan Yin in one of the temples at the base of the mountain

After a night at the Teddy Bear Hotel (its actual name) I took a bus to Wannian Temple and began the ascent of the mountain from there.

Wannian Temple

From there it was a long slog up about 6000 vertical feet to Shishiangchi Monastery, where I spent the night. Of course at this time of the year I was the only guest.

Shishiangchi Monastery, looking down on the cloud bank

Next day I continued on up to the summit.

One of the ridges of Emei Shan

Stayed Christmas Eve in a guesthouse on the 10.077 foot summit and got up early Christmas morning for the view. Unfortunately there was a complete whiteout and no view. About a dozen Chinese were also on the summit. One offered me a cigarette and I was about to reflexively refuse, but then I thought, “This may be the only Christmas gift I get this year,” so I took it and had a smoke with the Chinese people on the top of Emei Shan. Took the cable bus and bus back down to the base of the mountain and was back in Chengdu by that evening.

See more photos of Emei Shan.