Leshan and the Big Buddha

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Today I took the bus to Leshan from Chengdu. It took about 2 hours each way on a bus designed for Asian legs, but I made it anyway. Once I got to the bus station I once again decided not to take the easy way and take a taxi, so I hopped on the local bus #13 (I did have a guidebook). It cost about 10 cents to ride, and dropped me off at the front of the entry place for the Buddha.

I spent most of the day walking around the Giant Buddha area - There were thousands of stairs and small gardens and temple like places all within the confines of the area. It cost 70 Yuan (about $9) to enter and was well worth it. I did get some good pictures but I am too lazy to get them off my camera right now. I walked around with some polish people (A group of about 6) as we were pretty much the only Non-Chinese at the place (although plenty of tourists). The picture I posted is not my own - but I wanted everyone to get an idea.

Around 2:00 I headed back to the bus office on the advice of the Poles, as they said that the buses can be full after about 4PM and it is possible to get stuck in Chengdu and have to hitchhike or pay an extremely expensive cab ride back to Changdu. I was thankfully able to get a ticket for the bus, but not until about 3:20, I was starving by this point so decided to try and get some food. Directly across from the bus station was what looked like basically a house with a garage, and inside the garage were some tables and a refrigerator. I continued what has basically been one long game of charades here in China and was able to tell the lady inside that I wanted food. We tried to use my Mandarin phrase book but that wasnt quite cutting it - she just kept pointing at the menu on the wall which was entirely in Chinese characters... eventually she had an idea and just opened the refrigerator and I pointed at what I wanted. I chose something that looked like chicken (but was definitely not) and something that looked like octopus (but I am pretty sure was not - although it had tentacles). The food was quite good - I ended up with two bowls of soup (containing my chosen meat) a bowl of rice, and some cooked cabbage. The next test was getting something to drink - they offered me two types of beer (it was all they had in the refrigerator) which I turned down... They did have some large glass jugs containing a yellow substance and a red substance... I pointed that yellowish one thinking it was tea - once I smelled it I knew it wasnt tea for sure - some sort of very strong alcohol... I found out how to say "alcoholic beverage" and "non-alcoholic" beverage and was able to get them to bring me a nice cold bottle of water which was exactly what I wanted... The meal was really good - and I took some pictures of the meal and the women to share later.. (it cost about $1.50 in all which was nice.)

I came home tonight to the hostel and paid the rest for my trip to Lhasa, Tibet. I am excited but a little nervous. The altitude is over 12,000 feet - and can really cause problems if you are not careful, the last place i want to be is some Chinese hospital being treated for altitude sickness. Anyway I think I will be fine - I have no idea what I am going to do while I am there yet - I suppose wander around and take pictures and try to sign up for some sort of tour if I can find one.

I suppose the other thing that is making me nervous is that I only have a one-way ticket currently. I have not decided whether I can make Beijing on my shortened schedule - but I will see. My hopes are to get a direct flight from Lhasa to Beijing, spend a day or two in Beijing and then get a flight back to Chengdu to catch my outbound flight to South Korea (I dont want to miss any more flights).

Well I am out for now - if anyone is reading this drop me an email and keep in touch - I will probably be stuck in my hotel room in Lhasa to adjust to the high altitude (most people say not to do anything for at least one day). I leave tomorrow on a 7:40 flight - arrives Lhasa at 9:40.


Hey Rich,
Your pics and commentary are awesome! Jason just reminded me to check your website. Hope you have a safe flight to Tibet tomorrow and I think I've replaced you as a 'lunch' partner, at least for now...only occasionally. I'm sure you stand out as the tall, white dude - amongst us Asians ;)...have any of them taken pics of you?

Take care of yourself!

PS -I tried to post something earlier but it didn't work...hopefully this one does. I said, "Unlike some people, I remembered to water your office plants" :)

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