By the time we have found a hotel and our backs are free of weight, it is already late afternoon. We rush to the location of the Giant Leshan Buddha, and after paying half the fee with our “student” cards, we enter the almost empty Unesco Heritage monument.
This giant Buddha is carved on the mountain facing directly towards the magnificent Yangtze river. The location itself is very colorful, with reddish rocks mixed with thick, green vegetation, and so few visitors at this time of the day make the place more peaceful.
Along the way to the statue’s head, there are some small caves, shrines and temples.
After a few minutes going upstairs, we can sight some enormous eye, ear and hair surrounded by a fenced terrace. It is so large that it is kinda hard to fit it all in a picture.
Before going downstairs, we check the temple nearby. The Buddhist statues in there are amazing in detail although we can’t make pictures to show you. We do pictures of the patio and outsides though.
Along the narrow, zig-zag-shaped stairs that take you to the feet of the giant, there are small eroded carvings of Buddha statues and other representations sculpted on the red rocks. There are also great views of the city and the rivers. Once down, we realize it is true what they say — you feel pretty miserable when you notice your size is not even half the toe of this 26-meter piece of art.
We leave the site from a different gate, walking some cave corridors and stairs, a little before the sun sets completely; there’s pretty much no one left. Past the exit there is a creepy, empty “fishermen” village and after it a beautiful bridge, when we hear the already familiar “Hallo, hallo! Taxi?”. The bus stop is quite far away so we resign and negotiate the price for a (electric!) rickshaw. We are taken along a small village along the river.
We then take the bus and when we arrive at our destination, close by a park, we see a group of people exercising to the rythm of some funky, repetitive mix of cheesy electronic music. There are probably 30 people of all ages (mostly women on their fifties) who, as usual, also stare at us. Suddenly, we realize the whooole park is full of people exercising to different activities like dancing, badminton, or repetitive moves. There’s even a street karaoke with live music.
We move on looking for dinner. We walk through a long avenue when we reach a lively market. We then see a hot-pot restaurant. When we are about to go somewhere else, the owner welcomes us. He sends his daughter who speaks English, and we explain we want vegetarian. The whole family goes above and beyond (we are their very first foreign visitors) and we have a delicious, warm and filling meal.
Overall it has been a great day. Next on our way to Xining, our gate to beautiful Tibet.