So i sat on the train, glad to be moving again and grateful for the break from work. But breakfast time came and went and still no Chengdu. We didn't arrive until after noon and I booked a ticket on the next train to Emei Shan, another two hours away.
When I asked for directions, the hostel at the foot of the mountain told me to find bus 8, so I looked around at the train station, but found nothing. I asked someone for directions using the few words of Chinese I know, a phone app, and, when I discovered he spoke a little English, my own language. He told me I had to go to the bus station and volunteered to take me on his electric motorcycle. I complied and soon we were careening through traffic. With my large backpack hanging from my shoulders, it was all I could do to grip the metal hand-holds to keep from falling off the back. Fearless, this man sped around cars, telling me about his family and job. A few exhilarating minutes later we arrived at the bus station and he put me on a bus to the mountain.
I got off the bus too soon, got lost and had to hire a motorbike taxi to take me to the hostel. I only did so, because he knew where to take me, and I had no idea. By the time I finally arrived and checked in, I had been traveling for a full 24 hours.
After the best night's sleep I'd had in weeks, I started hiking into the official park of "Emei Shan." I realized the night before that I would need a full day to reach the summit, and a full day to get down again, and since I had nowhere to stay at the top, I decided to at least go as far as I could. I started with the nearest monastery, then followed a Chinese family along a winding dirt path, which snaked through the dense trees and bamboo shoots.
I was a bit chagrined to follow the grandma of the family, wearing cheap sandals, who hiked up the steep hill as though she were walking on level pavement, while I struggled behind, suffocating from the wet heat, as though trying to breath underwater, sweat streaking down my back.
At least, going in this way, I mistakenly, though serendipitously, bypassed the unreasonably high entrance fee.