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China - Leshan - The Big Buddha in the Haze

Leshan Big Buddha, Sichuan Province, China


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After the failed attempt to see Emei Shan due to the fog, the weather started to clear up by the time we got closer to the giant Buddha in Leshan. It is located in a park full of temples, sanctuaries and nice landscaping, where the paths lead to a high point at the river cliff from where you can see the world's biggest stone Buddha (traditional Chinese: 樂山大佛; pinyin: Lèshān Dàfó) from above.
Leshan Giant Buddha, overlooking the confluence of rivers and facing Emei Shan

Leshan Giant Buddha, overlooking the confluence of rivers and facing Emei Shan

Leshan, a much smaller happy looking Buddha, comfortably seated

Leshan, a much smaller happy looking Buddha, comfortably seated


It is by far the world's biggest ancient statue, created in the early Tang Dynasty period. Building started in the year 713 led by a Chinese monk and it was completed in 803 A.D. At its feet, the Minjiang, Qingyi and Dadu rivers flow together, and the reason why it was built was apparently the hope that it would calm down the sometimes wild currents of the rivers, that threatened the ships. The sitting Buddha statue faces the holy Emei Shan (Mount Emei), together with which it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage. Its height is 71 meters and the width of its shoulders is 28 meters.
Leshan Giant Buddha, overlooking the confluence of rivers and facing Emei Shan

Leshan Giant Buddha, overlooking the confluence of rivers and facing Emei Shan


The best point to see it is either from above, or from tourist boats that sail the three rivers. There is also a path down along the cliff where you can see the enormous sitting statue from its toenails, but given the enormous crowds lining up to walk that path, we decided not to do that.

At the viewing point up there, it is quite crowded, and there are also some people with less noble intentions. If you read about Chinese scams with men offering to make pictures of you in crowded areas, the high viewpoints of Leshan are definitely a place where scammers operate. There are some that offer to take a photo, but then they will charge you a fee after they have done so and make a big fuzz if you refuse. Or their "comrades" may try to pickpocket you in the meantime. We saw a team like that at work, and they also tried this on us, without success. They pretended to be Chinese, but they were clearly not the typical local folk.

One of them was wearing a Buddhist monk's dress and had a praying chain in his hand. He was chanting some verses while carefully picking out his targets. I found the combination of his Arab sunglasses and hair dress a bit odd and had been observing him for a while. His whole composure looked more like a Mediterranean mafioso. When he tried to trick one of us, we managed to refuse his "services" by standing around him and pushing him off, and we walked away. Just be warned, because there are several of them up there.

Even though we saw a handful of western visitors here, the vast majority are Chinese tourists. They are clearly from all over the country and from city and countryside. Not everybody is dressed for the hike. There was one young lady whose shoe ware (and not only that) looked a little bit out of place here though, although she seemed to enjoy attracting the looks from other people more than looking at the Buddha statue.
Leshan Giant Buddha park, solid walking shoes recommended <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Leshan Giant Buddha park, solid walking shoes recommended ;)

Leshan Giant Buddha, astrology steles

Leshan Giant Buddha, astrology steles


From here, the view on the Buddha and the river is amazing. The remains of the fog, while the sun tried to shine through, definitely added to the mysterious atmosphere.

After having visited this site, we drove back to Chengdu, where we stayed at the Hejiangting Hanwen Hotel, situated along the river and a modern, convenient but very Chinese hotel. It is located at the busy Binjiang Road.

One of the things that catch the eye when arriving in Chengdu is the frequently heavy smog that colors the sky yellowish. It is not only the traffic and industry, but rather a mix of the inevitable air pollution of a city of 20 million people, its location in a valley and the dust and sand carried in by the winds from the dessert and steppes around the city.

However, when we arrived in Chengdu there had been some rain and there was a little breeze, so the smog was much less than usual. The city looks remarkably clean, with quite some green (parks and trees along the boulevards). It also it looks well maintained, compared to many other Chinese cities.
Chengdu, night scene along the river

Chengdu, night scene along the river


Very close by the hotel is a place where two rivers flow together, and that symbolism makes it a very popular spot for wedding photography. There is a little park at the confluence of the rivers, and next to it is a popular restaurant and bar area aptly called Chengdu Lan Kwai Fong, after the famous bar area in Hong Kong. It is a place where the rich and fashionable young Chinese like to hang out and in fact a very hip, trendy area, with prices matching those of European cities. Even though we were late, we did find a restaurant there for some late dinner. The next days however, would become the highlight of our trip to Sichuan: Juizhaiguo National Park.
Chengdu's version of Lang Kwai Fong

Chengdu's version of Lang Kwai Fong

Near Chengdu's Lang Kwai Fong bar area

Near Chengdu's Lang Kwai Fong bar area

Interesting Chengdu interpretation of Lan Kwai Fong bar area

Interesting Chengdu interpretation of Lan Kwai Fong bar area

Posted by westwind57 09:52 Archived in China Tagged rivers road_trip river china sichuan leshan big_buddha giant_buddha Comments (0)

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