My blog about travel adventures and a lot more.
When planning our trip to China, we realised very soon that we would not be able to go everywhere and see everything. In two weeks, we would have only enough time to do some highlights and there would still be some sacrifices to be made … Leshan Giant Buddha was one of the places that I was definitely not willing to leave out. It is the largest stone Buddha in the world. It was carved out of a cliff facing Mount Emei with rivers flowing at its feet. The construction was initiated by a Chinese monk who was hoping that the Buddha would protect the shipping vessels and calm the turbulent waters. His wish came true in a certain way and the waters became safe for passing ships. Thanks to the massive construction, stone removed from the cliff was deposited into the river causing the currents to alter …
I was really looking forward to seeing this exceptional site. It didn’t matter that we had to get up early and take a bus for 2 hours.
The day didn’t really start like expected. We thought of taking a taxi to drop us off at the coach station. However, we stopped 3 or 4 of them but each driver refused. They only showed us the direction. The first time we let it go. The fourth time it became frustrating. Neither of us spoke Chinese and we didn’t understand what they were saying. So we walked … and walked … and walked. Occasionally asking people in the street. Well asking is a strange way to put it. We greeted them, smiled and showed them the name of the coach station in Chinese characters. I have to say that not even once somebody refused to help us. People stopped and showed us the way every single time.
We found the coach station and bought our tickets. Our coach was leaving in few minutes. Fortunately we did not lose so much time.
We slept a bit on the bus and did not feel tired anymore. There was a tourist information office at the bus stop with a young girl speaking English. We verified our info with her. Which bus to take to the site, when is the last coach back to Chengdu and so on.
Then we took a local bus to bring us to our destination. There was a girl who was selling the tickets on the bus (driver’s only occupation was to drive). She also handed small souvenirs to every passenger.
We arrived. There was an unpleasant surprise waiting for us. The price of the tickets were not as we thought. We wanted a basic ticket but the lady was obliging us to buy a more expensive one. We didn’t know why. There was a Westerner who spoke a bit Chinese and had the same problem. He decided not to pay and do something else. I tried to speak to the lady. Well, I spoke English and she spoke Chinese. At least, I tried to read the expression on her face. She showed us a direction to go. I figured that she was trying to help and it was not just an attempt to cash Western tourists more … After few minutes, we arrived to a second and bigger entrance (we saw it from the bus but it didn’t stop there). The basic fare was available. And we could finally enter.
It was only after seeing the map provided with the ticket that we understood the whole situation. The previous entrance was crossing a park for which an extra fee was charged to the visitors.
It was May, 1 and there was a lot of people. I mean really a lot. It is a national holiday in China and people are used to taking the whole week off. I would probably prefer to visit some other day but we didn’t have a choice. On the other, we could maybe witness the atmosphere that there is only once a year 😉
Before getting in line to descend the cliff to see the Giant Buddha, we decided to visit the surrounding temples first (hoping that the queue will shorten). Well, it didn’t but we almost managed to lose each other. One advice ! Always set a meeting point in case you do lose each other. And stick to the plan! We did have a meeting point but my man didn’t stick to the plan. I just went to the toilet and then waited for him where I was supposed to. After half an hour, I started to be worried. No money. No phone. I could only wait. When I was at the point of starting to really worry, he reappeared with a huge apologetic smile. “I am so sorry, I was just taking some pictures and the time went so fast”, he said. “There was one temple and then another one and another one, so I kept going. I am sorry.” So while he was visiting and taking pictures, I was biting my nails and preparing a “survival” scenario. Fortunately, I don’t panic easily and try to keep a cool head.
It was my turn to see all those temples he was talking about …
After a bowl of spicy noodles, we got in line to see the main attraction. Leshan Giant Buddha.
It was impressive. Astonishing. And I felt so small next to it. Well, it was not only a feeling. It is objective to say that a human body is tiny comparing to the great sculpture carved into the mountain.
Few hick-ups on the way to see it but there are no regrets. I am really glad that we didn’t leave it out from our tight itinerary.
If you liked this post, do not miss my previous adventures: