Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday-The Giant Buddha of Leshan

This morning we took a bus to Leshan, a city about an hour and a half from Chengdu. It is at this point where three rivers converge and the turbulent waters have always been treacherous to watercraft. A Buddhist monk called Haitong decided that the waters could be quieted if Buddha were to look over the site. He began the undertaking of carving a giant Buddha out of the sandstone cliff. It was begun in 713 AD and completed 90 years later. It is 71 meters high. We walked up to the top of the Buddha, then descended a very, very, VERY steep set of steps carved into the adjacent wall to the base of the statue, and then climbed back up the other side, through passes carved in the sandstone.

Before the visit to the park, we took a boat ride to the base of the cliff, and then had lunch in a popular local establishment.

The road to Leshan provided wonderful views of the countryside- high rise buildings give way to terraced fields of vegetables. Much of the land is in bloom with the yellow flowers of the rapeseed plant. Oranges are being harvested now and they are plentiful in local markets.

Everyone in our group is trying new things, eating what they are served at home, taking lots of photos, and being the travelers we knew they would be. Tomorrow, Baoguang Monastery, a little shopping and some basketball with the CDEFLS students…

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