Day 8 of my trip to China included a trip to see the Giant Leshan Buddha.
Leshan Buddha trip.
To make sure I have enough strength for the day I fill up at the all you can eat breakfast buffet before we all board the coach for our trip. I must say I did enjoy the sight of the motorway toll booths on our drive to Leshan. They had been built using the old-style roofs that adorn many of the temples & pagodas that we have seen & they look great.
When we arrive in Leshan we are taken aboard a boat for an 'Aquatic Tour' of the Minjiang & Qingjiang river. We set off and are very quickly downstream looking up at the Giant Leshan Buddha. We speed pass quickly allowing us only a short view but when we turn around and begin to fight the very strong current we get a much better & longer view of the Buddha.
It is amazing to see how small the people that are descending down to the base of the Buddha look as they make their way down the steep steps. Our local guide tells us that to view the Buddha we will have to climb to the top of the Buddha, climb down one side, climb up the other side & then retrace our steps climbing it all over again to return to the coach. He tells us that this is the only way you can see it & that you can not turn back once you have started.
After viewing the Buddha from the river our boat struggles against the tide to return us to the dock we set out from. We are then rewarded with a Lazy Susan buffet dinner in a restaurant overlooking the river.
Leshan Giant Buddha.
After lunch, we are taken to a small market where the people who don't fancy climbing up & down the Buddha four times can look around & have a beer or a wine or both.
I had already decided that although I wasn't sure I could make the climb I was going to give it a go. The Giant Leshan Buddha was one of the things I had come to see & I hadn't come this far to bottle out at the last minute. Both Dave & John were both going as well but as we set off with our guide, my lovely daughter Mel, decided she couldn't let her poor old dad struggle on his own & came with me to make sure I was okay.
The stone Buddha here is carved out of the cliff & was construction was started by a monk in the Tang Dynasty around 703 AD.
After a short walk, we soon arrived at the entrance to the park that the Buddha was in. It soon became apparent that the local guide's description of how much climbing we would have to do had lost something in translation. The walk to the top of the Giant Buddha was a lot easier than he had described & anyone on our tour could easily have gotten to the top.
When we arrived at the top of the Buddha we find that you do not have to climb down the Buddha to the base if you don't want to. There are several places that you can pose for photos next to the head of the Buddha & there are also gardens, a pagoda & several smaller monuments that can be seen without any difficult climbing.
Mel was once again asked by Chinese people if she would pose for photos with them, they seem fascinated by her blonde hair & good looks. I will have to start charging them to have photos with my daughter, it will give her some pocket money & me an income to take her mum away on another holiday.
I decided that I would continue down the steep steps to the base. The walk is supposed to take around 1½ hours. I think this is because people keep stopping for photos & the path is not wide enough to pass as they do. Mel & I arrive at the base of the Buddha where Dave & John have already arrived. We all pose for photos & then make the climb back up. This is a lot harder than it looks as the steps are very steep and uneven. Helped by my daughter & several rests & water breaks I get back to the top.
It takes me a while to get my breath back & my legs feel like jelly but I am really glad I have done it. Thanks for your help, Mel. We walk through a very nice garden & see the cave that the monk who started to build the Buddha lived in. Mel, Dave & John then climb some further steps to see the Lingyun temple, but as my legs still feel like jelly, I stay to keep our tour guide company.
When we leave we walk down through some gardens and back to the car park & market where we left the rest of the tour group a few hours before. It seems they have all been forced to drink large amounts of alcohol to stave off the sun & to prevent sunstroke. As I arrive back with Mel I'm greeted by a round of applause and much cheering for managing the climb of the Buddha.
Sichuan Opera & Folk Arts Performance.
This evening I join a small group of my fellow travellers to go & see the Sichuan Opera & Folk Art Performance. It was fantastic, the speed at which the face changer went was brilliant and even the comedy act in Chinese was funny. I would highly recommend this show to anyone going to the area.