Visiting Wuwei, Gansu province. Now THIS is a big Buddha!

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June 15th 2013
Published: June 15th 2013
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In order to get to Xinjiang Province I have decided to cross the Hexi Corridor, which is the Northern Silk Road, the historical route that connects China to Central Asia. To the north of the Gansu Corridor lies the sandy Gobi Desert, to the south is the Tibetan Plateau and its colorful mountains. I entered the Gansu corridor through Wuwei. Wuwei is a small city that is rapidly developing and modernizing around its central square. I enjoyed the many temples and the slow pace the city offers. It has a long pedestrian street (filled with the same shops we can find in any Chinese city) as well as remains of the fortified wall that used to circle the city.

I suppose that the locals do not often see foreigners in town because everyone stared at me and some people even crossed the street to come shake my hand and have their picture taken with me… This hadn’t happened to me in a while in China! The funniest was a young saleslady walking out of her shop. When she saw me, she froze (and she got so wide-eyed!) and then ran back up inside to tell everyone to look at the foreigner. It made me laugh and I waved at the giggling girls. I am sure that every foreigner in China is growing tired of the silly “hellos” thrown at us by young people who do this just to look cool in front of their friends… but I like to wave at them and tell them their English is amazing, the same way they tell me my Chinese is great (it’s not!) after I only say “ni hao = hi” to them.

Now the most interesting (and stunning! = one of my favorite words!) site in Wuwei was by far the big Buddha at the Tian Ti Shan Grottoes. Becky had told me about it from her Chinese version of the Lonely Planet on Gansu province. It took me almost 2 hours to get there because the road was terrible and the bus (I didn’t ride my bike, it was raining) had to avoid thousands of potholes but we went through some pretty yellow prairies surrounded by grassy hills and mountains. This big Buddha is 28-meter tall with 2 disciples on one side and 2 kings from Heaven on the other. It was carved by local artists during the Tang Dynasty (1200 years ago) and amazingly saved over time. It is located next to a very blue water reservoir with red sand stone at the bottom creating the most beautiful contrasts. It was unlucky for me that it was raining, but I can imagine how beautiful the place must be when the sun is out. Lately they have had to redo the feet because the water from the lake spoiled everything from knee down. The local government also decided to build a wall around the cave to keep the water from the reservoir away from these amazing carvings. Check out my pics, I think you will better understand when I tell you that this Giant Buddha is truly amazing.

Additional photos below
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Tian Ti Shan Shi KuTian Ti Shan Shi Ku
Tian Ti Shan Shi Ku

the grottoes are on the right side amid the cliffs

15th June 2013
a wall has been built to keep the water away from its feet

I know this area...when I was there it was inaccessible to these grottoes. Fantastic to see shots of it and that the damage from the resevoir has been overcome with a wall...albeit ugly. The shots of the loess mountains bring back great memories...have you ever seen so many road tunnels? Lots of fantastic grotto sites in Gansu...many not in the guide books...hope you get to others.
9th April 2014

FYI the direct road from Wuwei to Tian Ti Shan was shut yesterday (9th April 2014), so just had major journey - 4h there, 4h back the day after, and had to stay with a local family overnight in a nearby village. Amazing scenery on the back-roads though!! Also construction around Tian Ti Shan - looks like this may be a typical Chinese tourist site in a couple of years.

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