Big Buddha

Nicholas Quirke was ready to be awed yet again on 9 August 2020 as he and Peng were setting out to see the Leshan Giant Buddha; a giant statue carved into the rock face of a cliff at the confluence of the Min and Dadu rivers, between 713 and 803, during the Tang Dynasty. It is the largest tallest Buddha Statue in the world. It was an hour train journey away from Chengdu and he was delighted that he got to see the station, which was immense, and as always to his surprise its name was blazoned across the Frontage in English. The time passed swiftly and it was not long before they were deposited by a Didi at the ticket office which was already swarming with people. Because he was Lao wai and because Peng had come from beijing they had to get in a separate queue which became even more time consuming when they discovered they needed cash. Once they had the tickets they had to queue to get in. In front of him was what he suddenly realised was a quintessential Chinese sight; a balding older man with his shirt up above his belly and a fan balanced on the top of his head. Once they were in and he had been complimented in Chinese by a woman who called him handsome, they began the trek to see the Buddha whose awe inspiring head, without warning sidled into view. He was compelled to look and photograph the effigy for an eternity. Its scale was incredible. Prised away they toured the Temple, where he found an enclosure celebrating the I Ching which he had decided to bring with him but not managed to consult at all. They were determined to make the pilgrimage to the feet and then up to the head but when they reached the queue and saw that it could be more than an hour before they could get to start the descent, it was decided that an alternative viewing by boat on the river, a tributary of the Yangtze. This did not stop them from continuing to explore the vast grounds including the crypts. The view from the boat was sensational and he had no regrets that they did not stand in the sun to make the back breaking walk. Lunch had passed them by and so on the way back to the station they stopped at a couple of venues to try the local cuisine, Including a delicious Vegan iced Jelly. In the evening, Back in Chengdu they visited The narrow and Wide alleys which were a haven of foods and tourist shops in the old authentic streets of the city. They ate Ice Lollies, cakes and devoured a spicy vermicelli dish Nicholas felt stuffed by the time they got back to the hotel and feared an uncomfortable night ahead of him once he attempted to sleep.


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