That was Saturday morning. We were to hike Saturday afternoon, spend the night halfway up the mountain, hike all of Sunday to the top, spend the night so we could see what we heard was a spectacular sunrise, and then get a bus back Monday (and everyone knows what happened on Monday after I got back).
I'm including lots of pictures because I'm traveling now and am unlikely to find reliable wireless. Internet bars are fine for blogging, but they don't have USB drives, so pictures from my travels in the next few weeks might be rare.
I should introduce the people I was with. This is James, my travel buddy, throwing up a waterfall.
This is one of the guys we were with. He was fascinated by the idea of the trick photos James and I were taking and was trying to make it look like he was grabbing a huge tree.
This is all five of the Chinese people we were with with James and me at the top of the mountain.
This is me looking gangster by a strange sign.
And now, to the moment I've been waiting to tell for three days... how I was attacked by wild monkeys.
Mt. Emei is famous for its wild monkeys. Tibetan macaques, actually, which look like this.
They're familiar with humans because they demand a toll of some kind before they let you pass. Usually, they have specific places where they stay and there are people to help you make it through without getting freaked out. After an easy day of climbing Saturday, we checked into a hotel and went to an area where the monkeys prowl. I forgot my walking stick, which I brought mostly to fend off the monkeys, so I was helpless.
Luckily, the monkey areas are guarded by old women with bamboo sticks. They hobble around hitting their sticks on the ground to let the monkeys know that if they don't back off, it'll be them getting hit next.
Entering the area, we bought packets of food for the monkeys. I thought it was a rip-off, like buying food for the ducks when you go to a park, but I bought one packet anyway. I gave James my camera and slowly approached a monkey.
I didn't have my technique down, though, because I held out my food before James was ready to take the picture. The monkey grabbed it, and all I could think about was how he couldn't have it yet because I needed a good picture of me taming the monkey. So I grabbed at the packet.
The monkey thought I wanted to take the packet back permanently and retaliated by grabbing me. Meanwhile, the old ladies standing guard are yelling at me not to provoke the monkeys by touching them, and I would have said I wasn't trying to, except I was so freaked out.
That was when James snapped the picture. I'm not joking in the picture, this is sudden, intense, undisguised fear. Strangely, my eyes look blank, but seriously, I'm alarmed.
The old women beat back the monkey and I resolved to lay low after that.