One of the things I really wanted to see in Sichuan was the Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone Buddha in the world. Carved into a cliff face at a river junction you can climb the roughly 71 metre (233ft) statue or, for a more relaxed viewing, catch a ferry. I chose the ferry option! One of the advantages of the ferry is that you can see the magnificent statue in its entirety. Although I knew how big it was, nothing can prepare you for the spectacle of seeing this huge Buddha slowly come into view as the ferry leisurely flows along the river. You can see the people climbing the Buddha and they look like ants.
One of my favourite sights was seeing a Buddhist Monk standing at the feet of the Buddha, looking at the tourists on the ferries and taking photos of them. I couldn’t help taking a photo of him! In fact a few of the Chinese tourists were taking photos of themselves posing as the statue with the statue behind them. I had to laugh. At one point I realised I was getting in the way of peoples’ photos so I moved. Paul discreetly came and told me that the couple had been lining me up and they were disappointed that I had moved. They wanted to be photographed next to the purpled-haired woman with the panda tattoos! I discreetly went back to my spot and sure enough the wife came next to me and had photos taken then her husband stood next to me and had his photos taken. I made sure I moved my arm into different positions so they could get shots of all the tattooed
We realised we weren’t going to make it back to Chengdu without a toilet stop and that’s when the fact that our driver couldn’t speak a word of English and we couldn’t speak a word of Chinese became a real issue. As we tried to mime needing to go to the toilet using hand gestures, I was beginning to think that not getting to a toilet wasn’t going to be a problem as we were more than likely about to be arrested! Luckily one of the women selling tickets for the ferry understood our dilemma and we were soon being guided to the much needed facilities.
Relieved, in more ways than one, we sat back for the two hour trip back to Chengdu. I made sure to keep my eyes open for the pug we had seen sitting outside a store on our drive to Leshan. I was convinced it was a statue, Paul was convinced it was real. Sure enough the very live pug had moved and was now sleeping on its side. I was so happy to see it as we had only recently lost our beloved pug Wolfy. With bittersweet memories we arrived at our hotel.
We had a few hours to spare and decided to walk around the neighbourhood. The noise and the traffic – featuring swerving buses, cars and bikes – has to be seen and heard to be believed. Crossing the roads was a real challenge but we just followed what the locals were doing. We went into shops looking for panda souvenirs and weren’t disappointed. Again we found the people to be friendly and helpful and extremely curious. We felt safe in our environment and were happy that we ventured out on our own. In fact the only scary thing about Chengdu was just how much panda paraphernalia they had for sale!