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Chengdu to Leshan for Dafo

Chengdu Travel Blog

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We woke up at around 10:30 and headed out to the bus station to catch our bus to Leshan to visit the world’s largest Buddha. We followed our map to a small street and made our way to the entrance where we were immediately accosted by a woman trying to sell us a tour. We told her we were leaving the same day and she left us alone. The good thing about the majority of hawkers in China is that they approach you offering you a tour or something, but they won’t waste much time on you once you’ve said no.

We reached the counter and in my broken Chinese and with the help of a photo of Dafo (the giant Buddha) we managed to get two tickets on the bus departing within the next 30 minutes.

It’s a 2 hour drive from Chengdu, and the closing time for the Buddha is around 6pm, so we were glad we could get there with enough time to spend looking around before it closed.

We bought some snacks and drinks for the journey (a hotdog sausage for Fab and a corn on the cob for me) and sat in the waiting room. We weren’t sure if our bus was boarding yet as we couldn’t see any buses there with Leshan written on (I’m getting better at playing match the Chinese characters on the ticket to the transport) but as I hovered around near the departure gate, a man who had been shouting something earlier looked at my ticket, and nodded in the direction of a bus. We wandered out into the station and headed towards the minibus.

The man shook his head and pointed at the 8 seater mini-van/car and ushered us inside. Surprised, we grabbed a seat and just looked at each other in bewilderment - we had expected a bus to Leshan, not a chauffered car ride! Nonetheless we were happy to be on the way.

A guy turned around and asked us where were were from. We started chatting and found out he was headed for Leshan too after a month of travelling in China with some classmates. We spoke fluent Mandarin as he’d lived in China from a young age before moving to the USA. His name was Will.

We arrived in Leshan after an uneventful journey (apart from being stopped on the highway while some workmen cut the powerlines down resulting in them falling onto the road) and Will helpfully translated that the driver asked us to transfer to the minibus we’d pulled along side, who would take us to the entrance of the giant Buddha.

Incense
He also mentioned it was free.

After a few minutes drive we reached the entrance and went up to the ticket booth where the vendor told us that we couldn’t buy the ticket for visiting Dafo alone (70 RMB), but we had to pay the full 120RMB to visit Dafo and a small fishing village nearby. Knowing we didn’t have enough time to do both, and also not really wanting to pay extra to visit a village, we all agreed just to visit the Buddha. Will told the lady that we only wanted the 70RMB ticket but she wasn’t having any of it and told us that the North gate was the only place to get the ticket for Dafo. I had been previously warned of this being a possiblity (thanks StevieWes), so I suggested that we just trek the couple of km back to the North gate.

The minibus driver had given Will his business card, so instead Will gave him a call and he came back and dropped us at the North gate.

We bought our ticket and entered. After about 7 minutes of exhaustingly tiny stairs, we reached the top of Dafo’s head and main viewing area for the world’s largest Buddha.

 Dafo was carved from a rock face after a monk was concerned by the shipping hazard caused by the fast currents in the convergence of the rivers Min, Dadu and Qingyi that flowed beside it. He suggested that a Buddha be carved from the rock and the excess rock be used to fill the spaces in the river bed, thus reducing the dangerous currents. His request was ignored until he blinded himself, to convince officials to pay for the project, and finally the feat was completed in 803AD, overseen by the other monks and the governor at the time.

At 71m tall, this is the world’s largest Buddha.

After taking lots of photos we headed down the stairs that were somehow installed in the side of this sheer cliff face. As we descended we saw different parts of the Buddha in great detail, and upon reaching his feet we saw just how massive he really is.

We climbed back up the stairs and headed towards the exit, taking a well deserved cold drink break at the rest stop. As we exited the gate we wandered back towards the area where the buses leave from back to Chengdu. As we walked we were approached by a woman offering a bus journey for only 40RMB each (9RMB cheaper than the bus on the way there). After referring to our map, it turned out that although she went to Chengdu, the bus didn’t stop at the main bus station, but a smaller one on the outskirts of town.

Street barbeque
We decided that despite this, it would be cheaper taking a connecting bus from that station to the centre than trying to find one that goes directly there.

We agreed and were driven to what looked like a warehouse where we waited for the bus. 5 minutes later a coach pulled up, and we found a seat. We arrived back in Chengdu bus station a few hours later and found our connecting bus back into town. We said our goodbyes to Will and carried on through town and back to our hostel, stopping off in town for a bite to eat and to pick up some little socks for ballet pumps for me.

Later that evening, we got a bit peckish so popped out to the local street food vendor, who barbequed the most delicious sticks of meat, veg and dumplings ever. Being the Sichuan province, I went for the peppered version, but Fab chose the not-spicy version which was just as incredible tasting. Honestly, some of the best food we have eaten during this trip so far has been from street stalls.

It was a great day, full of fun and lots to see, and we slept solidly that night.

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Incense
Incense
Street barbeque
Street barbeque
Incense
Incense
The little bus stop we were drop…
The little 'bus stop' we were dro…
Fun in McDonalds!
Fun in McDonalds!
Fun in McDonalds!
Fun in McDonalds!
Fun in McDonalds!
Fun in McDonalds!
Fun in McDonalds!
Fun in McDonalds!
Chengdu at night
Chengdu at night
Chengdu at night
Chengdu at night
Street barbeque
Street barbeque
Chengdu
photo by: spocklogic