Emei Shan Postcard

We had risen above the smog and the clouds and the filth of a modernising society. We were standing high upon this ancient world, climbing to the top of a Buddhist mountain in a cable cart, having reached its base on a bus that had broken down twice.

In a country of over a billion souls we saw the masters. White and golden elephants could carry their load. The others would do without, slaved and sweated, feeling sorry.

They were not my concern.

My ancestors had created the revolution and now I was reaping the reward.

Emei Shan mountain

Today, while the slaved climbed the mountain, carrying slabs of rock upon their stiff rod of a back, I was clambering down, my prime concern avoiding the sharp teethed monkeys guarding my path.

I was reminded of a Chinese saying:

‘With one monkey in the way, not even 10,000 men can pass.’

But today I was not a man and I had my handbag ready should I stray into their path.

20 kilometres to go, to the base of this Buddhist mountain, I was keeping my distance from anything that appeared menacing, weary and watchful, the high heels upon my feet killing me.

12 kilometres to go and I had stopped at multiple stalls asking for directions, buying a caffeine fix in appreciation for their effort. At each stall I had been told to either go down, around or back where I came.

Finally, with my calf muscles about to blow and dusk about to descend, I was given the best advice of all.

It was advice I should have heeded much earlier but now I was truly listening.

It was from a lady holding a map and on that map was a cartoon picture of a cable cart.

All the way down, down to the ground, with no looking back.

Elephant scultures on top of mountain
Workers carrying slabs on their backs
Workers carrying slabs on their backs