Friday 9th August 2013
Woke up on the train and still in my bunk but feeling like I needed a lot more sleep. First thing I discovered was that: Kathy is an elf!! Okay so maybe this is a slight exaggeration. She has an elf tattoo which she designed herself by downloading the keyboard add-on for her computer and writing her name. However, she would like to be an elf and have pointy ears but says as she is so short she’d settle for being a hobbit!! She’s possibly a little crazy but that’s the great thing about travelling with new people and you certainly learn a lot about each other when you are ‘trapped’ in a sleeper train cabin together.
Having arrived at Chengdu Train Station we boarded a bus to take us to the Leshan Buddha. When we arrived we got on a boat first as this would allow us to see the Buddha in its entirety. It is 71 m high and was built around 1300 years ago. It took 90 years to build and all of this was done by a monk who ended up gouging out his own eyes!
The water was moving very quickly in the river so we almost missed the photo opportunity on the way out. However, once the boat had turned around we managed to remain in one place to take photos. The boat engine had to work hard to fight against the current but it was worth it as the Buddha was very impressive indeed. It was cut into the rock with a few features painted. It was HUGE and looked just like the one in the brochure. Either side were further carvings but I am not sure of what.
Back on land we began our walk up to the top. We passed several temples where many visitors were praying. They brought candles and incense which they burnt in front of the temple which contained many figures of Buddha. In this form of Buddhism they do not believe in one Buddha but believe that there are many and that anyone is able to reach this level of enlightenment. The colours of the candles and the light were amazing. The smell of the incense was sweet and very fragrant. It was very peaceful to see these people giving thanks and praying. We were told that only about 20 monks actually live here permanently but there were many more nuns. The monks were exactly how I had imagined they would look with shaved heads and robes.
We walked down the side of the Buddha which was very very crowded and very steep but luckily they had a handrail. The Chinese don’t seem to be very good at queueing (but I think that is true of all nations – only seems to be the British who are happy to wait in line). You had to have your wits about you or they would push through. All the way down there were carvings in the side of the rock but many were not that clear due to erosion. It was also very impressive seeing the Buddha up close especially the hands and feet as they were enormous! Eventually at the bottom, we saw more people praying and kneeing before the statue. The view looking up at the Buddha was something no picture could truly do justice to as from this angle and yet still so close you could not fit it all in! The walk back up was steep but worth it as at the top we saw waterfalls, a statue of the monk responsible for Leshan Grand Buddha and the cave he had lived in once he had gouged out his eyes. It was here we had many more Chinese tourists taking pictures of us and with us – there really aren’t any other Westerners around except for our group!
Strangely our hotel room contained a desktop computer with free internet access so the end of the day saw me sending some photos back home and clearing emails. It seems no matter where you are in the world you can also be contactable.
Photos from Leshan Buddha – Day 7
This tour is a 20 day tour provided by Exodus and you can click on the China link in the menu to read more about my adventure. If you are interested in or already booked on this trip and would like to know more than please feel free to contact me directly.