Asia | China | Yunnan Province | Dali – Chicken Foot Mountain
Like everyone had predicted, the rain did not stop this morning. We started our ascent up the mountain, and my lungs were burning for almost the entire 4 hours. Soaking wet from the damp air inside the raincoat and sweat, I questioned quite a few time what the heck I was doing. A monk walked at a steady pace ahead of me, looking so unrushed as if he was taking an after-dinner stroll. I tried to catch up with him, but only fell further behind as the steps became almost perpendicular to the gorund. His gray-robed figure eventually disappeared into the mist.
It was freezing at the summit at an altitude of 3200m, and the stunning scenery that made Chicken Foot popular was hidden in the dense fog. I shivered, but the chilly air was refreshing. In the solitude, I felt like I was floating in midair and the ethereal summit belonged to me. The monk I saw earlier emerged from the temple at the summit, and gave me a friendly smile as if he saw me running after him from the back of his head.
We ate lunch around a basinful of burning coal. I tried to dry myself by turning around and facing the coal with different sides, but at the end of the meal my back was still wet, and my rear end was burning hot from sitting with my back against the coal. The fried rice was way too heavy for my stomach, and it kept turning up as I ran down the steps following the guide with my shaky legs. The whole experience turned out to be an exercise regiment. As much as I hated the reconstruction on the mountain, I secretly wished that there were more rebuilt temples on the way. That’s when I got to stop for a minute and catch a breath while the showed me around, although the monks were mostly too busy cooking their meals or cleaning the silk flowers on the prayer table to talk to us.
Back in Dali again, I had the first nice hot shower in many days and couldn’t cherishing the convenience brought by westernization and tourism. Finally dry and warm, very single muscle on my body was aching, and I fell fast asleep.