Our first day in our final city. A day I had been waiting for most of the trip to come, the reason I rebuilt this whole trip myself rather than booking onto a pre-booked tour, to visit Dafo in Leshan – the giant Buddha.
We filled up on a yummy breakfast in the hotel (best breakfast of the trip) and then spent the next 20 minutes trying to find our guide. In the end we found her hidden in a huge chair – not very easy to find or recognise. Slightly annoyed we headed to the car for a 2 hour drive to Leshan.
The drive was pretty uneventful, the usual Chinese drivers were out in force driving like maniacs and swapping lanes like their life depended on it. Anyway, we pulled into the pretty town of Leshan and made our way to the dock for a boat tour.
This is by far the best way to see Dafo from the river right up close. The boat itself was okay despite us having to wear life jackets which added an orange tinge to our pictures. As we made our way down the river and round a corner he came into sight. As spectacular as I imagined and hoped for (coming only just second as the best site in China to The Great Wall.)
From the water you can see the other guardian statues in the cliff face that you cannot see from the shore. The story behind this Buddha is that a monk wanted to help the fishermen who fished in the river from drowning in the raging waters. So, he began to build, well carve a Buddha out of the cliff face. He died before he could be finished but the work was picked up by a subsequent monk who finished off the build. Once finished the raging waters ceased and the river was calm.
In reality it wasn’t the Buddha that calmed the water it was the fact the rock from the cliff that was carved out was thrown into the river. But that explanation isn’t as cool.
On the way back to the dock we stopped so you could see the sleeping Buddha made out of hills and vegetation – can you spot it in the picture below?
After the boat trip we headed to lunch before our visit to the foot of the Buddha. We ate a local restaurant (our guide spoke to the waitress and got us seated in the back out the way which was much quieter and not in the window like an attraction), our guide ordered some food for us which was delicious.
Rice, Spicy Green Beans, Chicken Kung Po (amazing) and Fish Flavoured Pork. All super tasty and the portions were again huge! They must have thought we weren’t hungry but we were stuffed!
We had a short drive over the river and began our climb up the mountain to see Dafo from head to foot – literally!
There were 333 steps up to the top of the hill which was paved and stepped most of the way which meant it was pretty easy going on our extremely tired legs and feet (note – I have never done so much walking on a holiday before, and that’s excluding the Great Wall hike!) Once at the top we had to queue for an hour and a half to make our way down the side of the Buddha.
We kept the local Chinese people entertained as made our way round – I was even stroked on the neck by an old lady who we think was amazed I was so white like the colour of her palm! Odd.
After munching our way through a strawberry Cornetto which had REAL strawberries sprinkled over the top we began our decent down the narrow path at the side of the Buddha.
The pictures show just how massive he is an just how amazing it was.
After spending some time at his feet we made our way back up the hill through a cave path, once at the top we visited a temple and a pagoda before making our way back to Chengdu.
We arrived back in Chengdu at a reasonable time so decided we would attempt Chengdu at night. I had read, again in Lonely Planet, about a temple that was worth seeing – the Wenshu Temple. It advised it was open late so we hoped to see something wonderful. When we got there it was pitch black with no-one around, nothing seemed open and it made me feel uncomfortable, which hadn’t happened much at all in China.
(It was so pitch black that there aren’t even any photo’s worth sharing.)
So, we called it a day and headed back to the hotel. Our real aim was to find somewhere to have a good dinner but my first travel meltdown (read:temper tantrum) happened and we ended up ordering room service. I think the tiredness had got to me as we had done so much in such a short space of time but it was the only one of the whole trip!
A good night’s sleep was needed and the beds in The Ritz certainly allowed for that!