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Saying goodbye to China

August 17, 2010

Throughout the summer, ASU students studying abroad will be writing back to the states about their overseas adventures. Fostering international student experiences is just one part of ASU's commitment to making a global impact.

Christopher's blog:

These past couple weeks have been a whirlwind! With it being my last weeks in China, I was super busy studying for my final exam, saying goodbye to friends I made, eating at all my favorite restaurants one last time, and packing my stuff and all the souvenirs I had bought. However, even with how busy I was, I still managed to visit two incredibly beautiful places nearby Chengdu: the Yibin Bamboo Sea and Emei Mountain.

The Bamboo Sea is located in the southern part of Sichuan, and is comprised of over 120 square kilometers of bamboo covered mountain slopes. It is considered one of the best scenic spots in China and has been used for many movies, most notably the acclaimed "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." I and several other students joined a tour group that left Saturday morning and returned Sunday night. The tour crammed a ton of stuff over the course of two days, including drifting on bamboo rafts, riding cable cars up a mountain (providing a great view of the sea), a special bamboo dinner, and even whitewater rafting. My two favorite parts of the tour were the Rainbow Waterfall and Tianhuang Temple. Rainbow Waterfall is a beautiful multi-storied waterfall surrounded by many trails that provided beautiful views – you could eve go behind the waterfall! Tianhuang Temple is built into the side of a cliff and also provides stunning views, along with an incredible trail around the cliff face which is covered in intricate rock carvings.

On the following Friday immediately after class, a group of us rushed over to the nearby bus station to catch the earliest bus to Emei Mountain. Emei Mountain is one of China's "Four Great Buddhist Mountains" and is also considered one of its most beautiful. It is especially famous for the incredible sunrise seen from its "Golden Summit," which is very rare site because of Emei's foggy weather. The sunrise was the reason we left immediately after class, as we wanted to get as close to the summit as possible on Friday night, so that we could see the sunrise Saturday morning. After arriving at a hotel located next to a cable car leading to the summit, we went to bed with our fingers crossed hoping that weather would permit us to see the sunrise. Waking up a couple hours before sunrise and seeing the moon and stars overhead (a good sign that the sunrise would be visible), we waited in line at the cable car with hundreds of other tourists hoping to see the sunrise. After a short (and very cramped) ride up to the summit, we claimed a good spot to see the sunrise. After about 30 minutes of shivering in the mountain air, the sunrise began! It was incredible feeling watching the sun rise over a sea clouds, slowly lighting up the mountain.

Once the sunrise was over, we could see exactly why it was called the "Golden Summit": there was a humongous golden statue and a golden temple! After taking tons of pictures of the statue, temple and the amazing mountain view, we traveled down from the summit and rode a bus to the middle part of the mountain to see the other thing the Emei is well known for: monkeys! The Emei Mountain monkeys are Tibetan Macaques who have a well-earned reputation of stealing food and belongings from tourists. We saw several monkeys eating their ill-gotten goods as we walked the trails, and kept an eye out so we weren't the next victims. However, there is one part of the mountain called the Monkey Ecological Zone where the tourists and the monkeys can interact with relative safety. With monkey handlers keeping the monkeys in line, tourists can walk through the zone and watch the monkeys, and if you are willing to pay, the handlers will coax one of the monkeys to climb onto you for pictures. I couldn't resist the opportunity, and ended up getting several pictures with a momma monkey and her baby.

After Emei Mountain, I returned back to Chengdu, took the final exam, said my goodbyes at our farewell dinner and took the long plane ride home. I am now back in Arizona, and a part of me still can't believe it. I spent two whole months in Chengdu and the province of Sichuan, and yet there was so much that I still wanted to do, so much I still wanted to see. It was hands-down one of the best experiences I have ever had, and I really hope I will get the chance to return.

Christopher Robinson, a sustainability and Chinese major, is a student in the Chinese Language Flagship Program and will be a senior this fall. He is studying abroad in China this summer.