Old world monkeys terrify me. I came for the mountain and thought, hey, I'm sure it's a healthy respect, and seeing macaques hanging out will be interesting.
No, actually, it is unbridled fear.
So we saw the macaques a few places. In the temples closer to Emeishan's base, they're smallish, and there are frequently handlers. Sometimes the handlers turn you into a macaque jungle gym. I was all set on that. It seems like a scam where the handlers stick a monkey on you, and then want you to buy things from them before they'll get the monkey to step off you.
Closer to the summit, where it's cold, and the forest is denser, and there is a low, grey mist-- there are fewer handlers, and some macaques are the size of pitbulls. And they're not shy. Don't get me wrong, it was pretty neat for a few seconds before they starting coming closer and the fear kicked in. They'll run through the trees and dangle over your head. From a distance they're neat to watch, but at this point they know they can mug the human hikers for food and what not, which is unfortunate.
#1. GET A BIG, STURDY STICK. Sometimes, the bastards come at you. You keep that stick because while most of the macaques are small-ish, there are some huge honking mamas who I'm pretty sure could have wrecked me. If they come after you (and I saw some tourists have monkeys go after them), you'll be glad of the stick. No, I don't support hurting animals, but these are not super fragile and dainty animals. I would rather have the option to put a stick up in front of me to keep just those few extra feet of distance between me and berserker monkey than not.
#2. DO NOT put your hands in your pockets. Cold hands? You should've brought gloves. Forgot something in your pocket? Leave it there. Hungry? NOPE. When you put your hands in your pockets, or even make like you are going to put your hands in your pockets, and a monkey sees? You're going to get mugged by monkeys.
#3. Avoid bright clothes.
#4. consider having little luggage locks for the zippers of your bags.
#5. Do not feed the monkeys people food. It's terrible to feed animals processed human food-- you'll make them sick (with diabetes). But also, you're just asking for trouble by pulling your own food out of your bags and pockets. This is why you can't put your hands in your pockets in the first place.
So, in closing, the macaque part of Emeishan was... interesting? The summit is better (and beautiful, scenery wise) than the monkey areas toward the base, so head up to the top for that (there are also buses). Tread carefully, have a big stick, no sudden movements, and no food. Impressive to see (not at the formal temples), and scared the crap out of me.