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A Scot in China of Today
Leshan Giant Buddha (Sichuan province)

I have to start off by saying this was stunning and took my breath away when I actual saw this giant statue.

The giant Buddha sits at the entrance to the three rivers called Minjiang, Dadu & Qingyi chich flow towards Chongqing and make up the mighty Yangtze river. The Buddha was carved around the lat 600s and completed in the 700s. it is said at one time only the top of the head of the giant Buddha could be seen as there was a large building shielding it but burned down how true this is I really do not know but there is evidence of support markings of beam in either side of the cliffs .It is a world heritage site and well worth being one and it also survived the last big earth quake in May 12th 2009.This whole are is still being uncovered and small caves are still being found with small Buddha statues in them no one knows how many still have been lost to the jungle around this religious area. Or been sealed up for one resin or other, some say it was done to protect the statues from war and social change through the Chinese history.

We went along early in the morning arriving around 9am and was approached by a guide who we hired for the tour and we paid 100 Yuan around 10 sterling and was well worth it as there were 6 of us in the party even though four of them were local still best to have a guide who knows what she is talking about and can give you the history behind the tour. I must admit by the time we climb to the top of the entrance of the giant Buddha it was becoming very busy and this was around 10.30am where all the tour buses were starting their whirl wind tour of the area.

We entered into the area after paying around 8 per head and duly started our trek towards the giant Buddha. We all first stopped to look inside a recent discovered cave with a happy Buddha inside it. The happy Buddha is not a Buddha at all he was apprentice to the Buddha in fact. After this we made our way up to the dragon pool or in Chinese (Long) pool as long in Chinese is dragon. After this we then went on to the white tiger which is the keeper of the entrance to the giant Buddha. On the long way up for the fit only may I add? After stopping off and taking in some of the fantastic views over the river which was in full spate and looking up towards the city of Eimeishan sitting in the middle of two of the rivers and looking over towards a temple on the far side and watching the small river boats which will also take tourist to get a river view of the Buddha but I feel you miss so much if you do not climb up the cliff. There are many rock carving with so much detail some are in good condition and some have been worn by time and weather. On the way up you seem to have the time to look and take in things but when you get to the giant Buddha there is a climb down a narrow stair case which is carved tightly into the side of the cliff and you need to watch your step on the way down as there is so many people in front of you and behind you and Chinese being Chinese they don’t like to stop and the push is on making it hard to look in detail at the carvings on the way down also making it hard to get any decent photos as you need to get a good grip of the rail. However I will let you into a small secret you do not have to climb down as all you do is walk past the feet of the giant Buddha and start to climb up the other side of the cliff and I will say it again you need to be quite fit to do this as I was struggling on the climb up the other side as all the steps are carved out of the rock and are all different heights making it hard when climbing. You can just walk around the head of the Buddha to the other side as this is the short cut that your guides will take to wait for you to arrive back at the top on the other side so for the people like me who are carrying a few extra pound or have a health problem just walk around the head of the Buddha.

There is quite a bit to see around the park and you can spend a whole day there and I would say do it do not just take the trip where you are being ushered by the tour guides on a paid tour if you can do it by yourself. Do not be scared to do this in china just bear in mind never pay them what they ask you for always haggle with them as in this area there is not much work and they will take something rather than lose work for the day, I always say treat them well and pay them what you think is acceptable and if possible take them for a meal well worth it as you will not be able to read the menu. On the way down we passed a lot of buildings and areas which were not opened to the public as they were being repaired or subject to structural reports for the engineers after some were damage in the earth quake in May 2009. But this did not spoil my day there as there was so much to see there and I never saw half of it so I intend to return sometime in the future and explore this beautiful place which has left a huge impression on me.

We did this off the cuff and out with a tour party as I know many local people for this area and who I am sure will make you so welcome and I know they will always try to help you. They may stair at you and look strangely at you but this is more inquisitive of them other than looking you over to rob you, there are many street sellers there beside the tour bus station well worth a look at some of the small trinkets they have and can make a nice present to someone or a good reminder of the trip you had to the giant Buddha. We spent several days in this area and I saw things that will stay with me forever and made me think a lot about myself as the whole area seems to have a calming influence on you but this is also noticeable in the people from the area with their rugged weathered faces and there soft spoken voices.

How to get there is quite easy and will get a lot easier in the future with the new high speed rail link going in between Chengdu and Eimeishan city. But for the moment you can fly into Chengdu the capital city of Sichuan province and get a car or bus from there to Eimeishan or from Chongqing which is slightly further away to the south east. Hotels are ok but you only get what you pay for and the food is good there and well worth having, giving you the taste of the area but beware they like it hot and I mean hot, chilly being the main spice used in there dishes and in most of the dishes. This area is lagging behind the rest of china as it is in central china and is so far away from the main city’s so work here is scarce however they do have some things the make there like bamboo disposable nappies which are good for the environment also tea is a great thing there. This is where most of the tea bushes came from to start the plantations in India they were traded for opium with the British and finding their way to India.

I hope you enjoy the photos and if you would like more information of need a product located in this area please contact me and I will try to help as much as I can. You can contact me via the email like on Electric Scotland or via my website . thank you to everyone who reads this item and finds it of interest

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