to upgrade to a triple share room with electric blankets. The shower rooms were separate to the main building and to get to them you had to walk by a pungent ‘drop’ toilet block...basically open sewer. I could’ve cried. There were no demands to be made to ‘management’ on the mountain for better accommodations as there were no other options. Take it or leave it, and we had to take it. I consoled myself with the thought that sunrise on the peak overlooking the Sea of Clouds (when we eventually got there), would make it all worthwhile and then I stripped off in the cold dank shower room and had a wonderfully hot shower.
glimpse the Golden Summit, it was so sudden it was almost an anti-climax. Within minutes we had found a hotel on the summit. I was elated. We were here, we were staying and I could get up for sunrise and walk for five minutes to get the Golden Summit sunrise shot. We dumped our heavy load in the Jin Ding hotel room (it was a proper hotel with free shampoo, a comb, free toothbrush and matches – I would have much preferred a clean toilet but hey, I got a shower cap) and virtually ran to the summit.
Greeted by beautiful scenery and Buddhist music, we bathed in our achievement. The fact that The following morning I reminded the others, on we wouldn’t have to hike in morning to get the a regular basis, that we could’ve...and should’ve sunrise spot made it even better. caught the bus. After about seven kilometres, we But we never got ‘that shot’. At 5am we awoke stopped to eat our pre-packed lunch at the Tem- and climbed the steps in the dark with all the ple known as Elephants’ Bathing Pool. There’s a other Chinese tourists. But the sun never rose... small hexagonal pool in front of the old temple at least not spectacularly. It went from dark night and legend has it that the Bodhisattva Saman- to gray daylight, the thick expanse of cloud rolled tanhadra once washed his elephant in this pool in, obscuring the view and eventually obscuring before heading up to the temple at the peak of the Golden Buddha itself. the mountain and thus the Elephant’s Bathing Pool was born...but, whatever....if we’d caught Where was my reward for hiking up 68,000 stone the bus, we would have been at the top by now, steps? I was bitterly disappointed. and we wouldn’t have hours of uphill hiking still We could’ve taken the bus. to come. Dave had made peace with the mountain. I continued to moan and then suddenly, after hours of stone steps, blood, sweat and tears (ok, the blood was a scratched mozzie bite and the tears were more of a ‘welling’...but the sweat was real) we began to see more people on the trail. Smart people. People who had caught the bus up and were already walking back down. Within half an hour we were smack bang in the middle of tourist central and I had never been happier to see 10,000 Chinese tourists. Dave had a mild panic attack while his serenity was broken and even considered hiking the rest of the way...I made a bee-line for the cable car -the wonderful machine that would hoist my weary bones the final leg of the way. And to our absolute delight it deposited us right at the summit, we could 18 SELFINDULGED