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vbx000 Leshan - A travel report by Veronica
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Leshan,  China - flag China -  Sichuan
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vbx000's travel reports

The Grand Buddha of Leshan

  12 votes
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During our weekend stay in Sichuan we visited the Leshan Buddha, the largest in the world. Rumor has it that the Grand Buddha in Afganistan was larger but it destroyed during the muslim invasion. The Grand Buddha of Leshan stands 71m high!


Greeted by Buddha & Company. Sakymuni in the middle.
Greeted by Buddha & Company. Sakymuni in the middle.
We had a little group outing with myself, Nikki, Gonpo, Tsebo and four other Tibetan nomads that didn't speak English or Chinese. It was great fun traveling with a pack of Tibetans, Nikki and I had a great time. Mostly, laughing hysterically and making a raucus in our sweet, innocent way. ;-)

The Grand Buddha is a nice place to visit. First, you pay 35yuan to walk through the Thousand Buddhas Cave (popular name for buddhist caves), here you can buy a lock, engrave it than lock it around the temple. You are suppossed to lock in the happiness and throw away the key.

We bought these for our parents, engraved them ourselves, but are taking them home. I'm not sure if that defeats the purpose.

There is a slight trick, before you can see the grand buddha you have to pay another 70 kuai. It was cheaper for Nikki and I, 140yuan all together for the entire package because we have student id's at a Beijing uni. The bad part is, once you make it that far you can't turn back over 70 kuai. It's a 2 hour bus ride from Chengdu to Leshan.

Favourite spots:
Thousand Buddhas Cave
Thousand Buddhas Cave
It's a pleasant day trip if you are in Chengdu. I don't think you can leave Sichuan without seeing the Grand Buddha, I mean really, its the biggest in the world. Its ears are 7 meters long.

Long ears is one of the 5 major and like maybe 40 minor signs of being a boddhisatva. He is massive, absolutely massive.

You can go onto the river bank on the other side to see him but I don't think you can make out just how massive this statue really is from that far away.

Leshan buddha was built in 713 AD.

What's really great:
The Grand Buddha of Leshan
The Grand Buddha of Leshan
Other than traveling with Tibetans, another special experience was watching the Chinese tourists reaction to this Grand Buddha. They had two poses that every single Chinese person must have tried and had family/friends snap pictures of.
The first, and most popular, was making it, from the right perspective that they often got wrong, look like you were holding the giant statue in your hand, or at least the big toe. I

t was really something to watch; swarms of Chinese people holding out their arms while their photographers barked commands as how to get the correct buddha holding position.

The second favorite was there was a large iron cauldron at the base of the buddha and everyone thought it was really clever to stand under it and look like you were holding it up. A little silly but they really love their clever photos. A man from Beijing took a fancy to me and demanded, in that polite Chinese way that you can't 'refuse, that I participate in pose 1. Tsebo & Nikki laughed a lot.

Sights:
Our Group, notice we are like book ends.
Our Group, notice we are like book ends.
Leshan Buddha and Thousand Buddhas Cave. Apparently the site is built like a wheel and somehow you enter at the center and can branch out into 4 different directions. We didn't do that, we went straight through the caves to the grand buddha. Those Tibetans don't fool around as tourists, they got straight for the point.

Accommodations:
The Head of the Leshan Buddha
The Head of the Leshan Buddha
We still stayed at the Kangding Hotel in Tibetan Chengdu. Chengdu is a typical gateway to Tibet as the direct flight from Beijing to Lhasa is relatively new.

As a Tibetan digression, Tsebo and Gonpo both have interesting stories. They are Tibetan nomads, related and from the same village. They both spent 3+ years in India, studying in Dhamasala (sp?) to be monks. Tsebo met/spoke with the Dhali Lhama because all Tibetan 'exhiles' get to see their holy leader.

Gonpo, and two of the guides from our Yunnan trip, trekked through the himilayas into India. Since, leaving Tibet is illegal. One of the other guides lost his toes to frost bite. And, it explains why Gonpo is a little umm, off sometimes. Tibetans are a little crazy, but in an endearing way.

In Tibetan buddhism, being a monk isn't a lifetime commitment. Many study in the monastery for a few years than return to nomadic life or onto other things, like guides. Tsebo and d Gonpo speak english, tibetan, hindi and chinese.

Nightlife:
Tsebo, Nikki, Gonpo and I
Tsebo, Nikki, Gonpo and I
No clubs, just pictures.

Hangouts:
I told Gonpo this was his little brother...
I told Gonpo this was his little brother...
No pubs, just pictures.

Funny story: When I don't laugh enough, Gonpo starts these really silly childlike antics until I start my usual bouts of unending laughter. And, one of them is he like touches his nose and his tongue comes out, then his throat and he puts his tongue back in his mouth. He uses his throat, ears, and nose for this, like on and off switches. Its really dumb and we laugh more out of embarassment.

The park had all of these little gremlins that were trash cans, and when i saw this one I told Tsebo that is was gonpo's little brother. So, we waited for Gonpo to catch up and then demanded he pose with this little brother. He did a really good job.

And yes, that is a parking meter behind the gremlin. We don't know why, it doesn't make sense, but it is a parking meter.

Restaurants:
Locking in Happiness
Locking in Happiness
No food, just pictures.

Want to know the names Tsebo gave Nikki and I? Well first, he gave us his last name, because we are his wives. My name is Ri (loose, rough pinyin of his Tibetan last name) Utmo. This means turquoise lake. Turquoise is a cherished/precious stone in Tibetan culture and lakes are very holy. Not that it means anything, its just a pretty name for a girl I guess. And Nikki, is Ri Nyma which means sun. And, well, that explains itself since the sun is a pretty powerful being in and of itself.

Before we left, the second time, he told us that we had to hurry back because our husband was waiting. Gonpo promised we'd be invited to his wedding but suggested maybe one of us marry him and be IN the wedding. We politely declined and said our heart was with Tsebo. Plus, Gonpo is kind of like a big brother, his name Gonpo Tserang, means Ancient Protector and he definitely lives up to that.

Other recommendations:
One last shot of our husband, Tsebo. This was a ninja shot
One last shot of our husband, Tsebo. This was a ninja shot
We paid 1 yuan per person for the mini-bus from the long distance bus station at leshan to the buddha. I'm not sure how they worked that out because Nikki and I weren't apart of the negotiations. We just laid back and let the two pros handle it.

Gonpo has this way with woman so he can normally get whatever price he wans with a few sweet words, that lovely smile and the glint of playful laughter in his eyes.

Tibetans have these eyes that speak volumns. It is indescribable how expressive they are with their eyes. Tsebo and Gonpo were always laughing and joking with their eyes, it was like their gentle heart was expressed through their eyes.

Published on Tuesday December 6th, 2005


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Fri, Dec 09 2005 - 02:06 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

nice report.
ravi

Wed, Dec 07 2005 - 03:08 PM rating by davidx

Another excellent report.

Wed, Dec 07 2005 - 12:13 PM rating by mistybleu

Hey Veronica,

Some incredible pictures mixed in with personal anecdotes, and enjoyable read.
Misty

Tue, Dec 06 2005 - 04:07 PM rating by rangutan

... not perfect but increadibly a pleasure to read and informative for places most westerners have still to explore. Well done!

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