Tag Archives: Sichuan Province

Sichuan Province – LeShan and the Giant Buddha

LeShan

Dafo

Today was the day I was looking so forward to. After researching the Sichuan Province, the Giant Buddha was what I wanted to see the most. As you can see from the photos, our hotel bed, made up of twin beds, was small and comical. It was also a rainy, gray day.

Once we reached LeShan, we walked through an open food market. I have to share about how nervous the kids and I were to walk through the meat section. Since we were offered dog as a choice meat to eat at last night’s dinner, very “sweet” meat they told us, we were so afraid to see a hanging butchered dog or even cages of bunnies for meat. Luckily, we didn’t see either. Thank goodness. The meat was just fish, frogs, pork, chicken and duck. The meat didn’t even have an odor. You could tell it was all freshly butchered that morning. I have a few photos of the market and the people.

The Giant Buddha, called Dafo, is carved into the red sandstone face of the Lingyun Hill overlooking the treacherous gorge of the Min, Dadu and Qingyi rivers below. In 713AD a monk, Haitong, felt to safeguard passing of boats a protective icon was needed in the cliffs. By the time the buddha was carved, the debris changed the gorge forever and made it safe for boats to pass. Haitong lived in a cave behind the Dafo’s head and when the local officials threatened to blind him if he didn’t take a cut in funding, the monk gouged his own eyes out to prove his dedication to the work of the Dafo. The statue was completed after his death in 803AD and only due to funds donated by the regional governor, Wei Gao. He donated his own salary to finish the legs and feet.

Some statistics on the statue are:

  • He’s 230 feet tall (taller than the statue of liberty without her pedestal)
  • His feet are 26ft long
  • Each ear droops 23ft
  • His shoulders span 92ft
  • His nose measures 18ft
  • Guardian figures flanking each side of the Dafo

Since time was short for us to visit the site, we chose to view the buddha from the river, instead of walking down to stand directly in front of him. We were told the river boat would take only 45 minutes compared to three hours walking up and down the staircase you can see in the photos. Plus, we were told the best view was from the boat. We can say it was impressive at a distance from the boat and the amount of people on the staircase proved we chose wisely.

We ending up having an extra hour and a half, so our driver recommended a museum in LeShan that has, Ebony, an extinct tree that is mined and carved into intricate designs. Much of museum, photos were not allowed. A few times, the patrol man following us, let me take a few photos. Stinkers! It was odd to be monitored as we looked. The carvings were detailed, unique and each told a story. They were well thought out.


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Sichuan Province – Mt Emei and City of Emeistan

Emei

Kids in front of the stone saying “Mt Emei”

For the weekend, we decided to leave Chengdu and adventure up in the mountains. Our plan was to head to Mt Emei for a hike, return to the city of Emeistan to stay the night, get up the next morning and go to LeShan to see the largest, pre-modern statue of Buddha ever made and then make a mad dash to the airport to return home to Suzhou. In order to do this, we hired a driver, suggested to us from our hotel, who took us everywhere we needed for the weekend. He also arranged for us to attended the Sichuan opera after our hike in Emeistan. (Sichuan Opera specializes on the quick changing masks. The kids were very tired and did not want to attend, but was thoroughly re-energized and loved the opera due to it color and lively presentation.)

Mt Emei has been considered holy by both the Taoists and Buddhists since the Eastern Han dynasty. We originally thought this was a single mountain climb up to one temple and it took over three days to complete. How wrong we were. Come to find out, it has various peaks, with many temples that have short routes that can be easily taken in a day. If one wanted to see it all, every route would require three days to hike. For a day, we easily saw three temples and wild monkeys and went to our hotel very sore from all the up and down staircases.

Many of the temples are dedicated to the Bodhisattva of Universal Benevolence who was said to have ascended the mountain in the 6th century on top of six tusked elephant. Mt Emei is also full of plant species: 3200 plant species, which is over 10% of China’s total botanical life. The most visible of the animal life is the aggressive monkeys, Tibetan Macaque, who freaked our guide out so much he would not continue on the walk when they came into view. We did of course. You can see the video with Briana’s excited OMG! MONKEY talk.

We took a cable car up over many tea fields to a pathway that led to the amazing temple of Wannian–the oldest surviving building on Mt Emei dating to 1611 that houses the famed golden statue of Puxian on the White Elephant with Six Tusks. From there we walked down to a Bailong Cave (the cave is so small you blink and you might miss it as you can see in the photos) and its temple where couples hang prayers for their upcoming marriage and just outside this temple is a 1000 year old tree said to be planted by an emperor. From there we walked down to Qingyin Pavilion, up a trail to see the monkeys and practically ran to get back to the last bus leaving Mt Emei for the night.

We all had incredibly shaky legs from stairs and a lot of my pictures, you are not seeing them here, showed how much I weebled and wobbled. A lot of photos were throw aways. Nathan was the smart one who purchased a bamboo stick from an older lady for 3RMB. The stick was helpful with walking and Mike used it to protect us from the monkeys. Mike was so heroic fighting off the monkeys with Nathan’s stick. He made sure no monkey could get to his kids or me. Of course, he had met a gal a bit down the trail who had shared that she was just attacked and bitten by a monkey. With the guide refusing to continue the trail to view the monkeys, Mike was ready for anything.

It was pretty funny once we reached our four star hotel. Hah! We got one room that had two twin beds. Five people… two twin beds… add in we could barely get around the beds. To make it through the night we put the bed together and sleep with one person on the end and four lined up. It was a tight squeeze but if any family can do it. It’s us. The opera was a good chance for us to get out of that tiny room. We would have not survived well if we would have been there all night.

I would like to share something about a symbol you will see throughout China. It is the swastika. The swastika has been a symbol of good luck for thousands of years. It stands for good fortune and prosperity. It is found in all the temples and is placed on a lot of the buddhas. So don’t be shocked when you see the buddha with it on his chest.

Here’s Briana screaming over the monkeys. This video just makes us laugh and laugh…

Hope you like the photos.


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Sichuan Province – Chengdu Panda Reserve

On this day, Paul, Miki and all of us traveled to the Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu. If time would have allowed, we would have preferred to see the Wolong Nature Reservce instead. The eight hour bus ride stopped us from going there. The Panda Breeding Center was set up in 1987 and has bred and raised over 88 giant pandas. We were told we could hold a panda for around $100 US dollars. So we went with the idea we would each do it. A once in a lifetime chance was how we viewed it. But instead, we were told $180; too rich for our wallets. Thus we never got the chance. It was a bummer. We did get very close to a bunch of Red Pandas and enjoyed interacting with them over the Giant Pandas. We spent over a hour just hanging out with the Red Pandas. They are very sweet, soft animals.


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Sichuan Province – Chengdu at Jinli Street

Chengdu

I took this photo of Starbucks on Jinli Street. One of my favorites…

We were fortunate enough to be able to tag along with Mike, for a week, to a LPG Gas Convention in Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province near Tibet. Chengdu is a compact, modern city with approximately 10 million residents. We were told the city is surrounded by mountains. We did not see any, due to the heavy fog, until we headed out to Mt Emei and Le Shan later in the week where we were in the mountains. We were also informed the area doesn’t receive more than 30 days of sun a year due to the clouds; made for a dreary looking city, but elegant, mystical mountains.

Since Mike was there on business, the kids and I were able to attend a few dinners with the ALGAS crew. A few others from Seattle were there too. Thanks for Sean and John, the kids felt right at home. By far, Sichuan food is the best food in all of China, so far. Darn good, spicy, yummy food! Nathan, our finicky eater, found a bean curd dish in spicy red peppers he just loves. Mike and I were so shocked at how hot our kids could ingest the food. They loved it. Our favorite restaurant was a hot pot style Sichuan place. The kids fell in love with Beef Cheeks and large water-chestnuts. In the photos below, the first photo is all of us eating at this restaurant.

The remainder of the photos are from a walking street we found in Chengdu called Jinli Street. They call it an ancient street. It is styled that way, but is clearly newly built. I have to say it was a special place to visit and shop. I wish I knew more about China when I was there. Had I known better, I would have done more shopping since this was the only place I have found full of authentic artists. We also like having a warm Starbucks latte as we perused the shops. There’s never a place in China that doesn’t have a Starbucks in it. They’re everywhere! Even in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

As we were leaving we passed by two guys dressed up as deities. In the photos, the one on the right is God of Wealth and the one of the left, we have no idea who he was. These guys were being very still and grabbing people as they passed by. The boys were chickens, but 100RMB, of my money, got Zachary motivated enough to go up to them and pose for a picture. Nathan shortly followed when he saw that Zachary did it.


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