AsiaChinaLeshan

Giant Buddha, Birthdays and Boredom

Leshan Travel Blog

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Giant Buddha
We left Emei Shan for the nearby city of Leshan, home of the Giant Buddha. Now, depending on what version of the Lonely Planet China you have, the population of Leshan is 145,000 or 4.5 million, after being there I would say its somewhere in between. I have to say for a city of possibility 2 million people, there ain’t that much to do there! More about that in a bit.

The Giant Buddha in Leshan, is considered the largest stone carved Buddha in the world. (71m, 233 ft tall)  It is definitely impressive.  The Buddha was built, in about 803 AD, at the confluence of three rivers, near a spot where many boats capsized.  It was thought by building the Buddha to look over these trouble waters, he would calm the waters and allow safe passage for boats.
Monk in Monestary
In fact the building of the Buddha did just that, however not for the religious reasons one would think. The carving of the statue removed a lot of stone from the cliff that then fell into the river below; consequently, altering the river currents and thus making the water calmer for boats to pass. Very cool.

Ok, Giant Buddha down, what’s next? Well nothing (other than the token monastery in town), the Giant Buddha is all this town has going for it!  

Today was actually Emile’s birthday, that’s why we were staying the night in Leshan.  We figured, bigger city, be on the water, celebrate, have some drinks, etc.   Boy was it a baad idea to stay the night.  What the guidebook failed to mention, was that there is nothing else to do in Leshan.
Bridge near monastery
  The town is generally a stopping point for Chinese tourists, so there isn’t much in hotels, restaurants or much anything else. We spent almost 1 hour searching the streets for somewhere to eat, finally we found this little place where we ate decent food.

Ok food down, now lets celebrate.

After leaving the “restaurant” we walk past this video game arcade and just walk in to check it out.  Much to our surprise and for some unknown reason, the owner (I think) comes to us and smiles, pats me on the back, walks over to one of those boxes with the crane that grabs prizes, opens it up and literally pours coins into Emile’s hand! And then motions us to go and play! Awesome! We ended up playing video games for about an hour.  I was a bit weary when we were about to leave that there must be some catch, but the owner just smiled and say Zian Jian, (good bye).
Walking back from monastery
  Definitely a nice surprise J

Well every good birthday celebration involves some drinks.  So we asked the front desk of our hotel if there was a bar, pub or disco around.  Her response was NO, NO, NO to each lol.  Grreat, what do people DO in this town? So now we’re stuck with no where to go and nothing to do.  There are no foreigners around, no drinks, no fun!  I felt a little bad, since Emile, who just turned 24 was all hyped for days to celebrate his birthday in Leshan.  Remedy? We head to the supermarket to pick up some drinks.  Aw the convenience of getting anything you want at the local grocer!

This is what we bought:
- 4 x 600 ml bottles of local beer
- 2 x vitamin drinks (like Gatorade)
- V8 carrot juice “mixer” for Baijo (yes remember that!?)
- 3 x bottles of Baijo
- 1 snickers

Emile chose all of that, except for the snickers.
Hotel Room Stash
  He really wanted to celebrate, problem was it was just me and him lol.  Anyways, how much do you think all of this cost? 20-30 bucks Canadian? Nope, it cost about 9 dollars! Funny how far money goes in the third world.

Well to make a long story short, that night will be remembered as Emile’s worst birthday! Since there was no place to chill, we sat in the hotel room, drank a little and played cards. I think we both went to sleep at 1030 that night.

O’ to top off a “fun-filled” day, at about 11p and then again at 1230a we get a phone call to the room asking if we want a “massage”.  You figure out what kind of massage that is! Each time I said no thanks, but that didn’t stop someone knocking on the door around 1a.  That’s when I made sure the door was locked, just in case the next person was just going to walk in. Very shady indeed.

Anyways, for those that plan to visit Leshan, make it a day trip! Trust me on this one.

Cheers,

Ruwan
jenmarie77 says:
Thanks for the advice on Leshan in this post. I was planning to spend a night there, but now I'm thinking it will make a nice short stop for a couple hours and then back on the bus.
Posted on: Feb 21, 2010
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Giant Buddha
Giant Buddha
Monk in Monestary
Monk in Monestary
Bridge near monastery
Bridge near monastery
Walking back from monastery
Walking back from monastery
Hotel Room Stash
Hotel Room Stash
Leshan
photo by: westwind57