The two and a half hour drive to the Buddha in the minibus was fun, it wasn’t really a minibus, more a minivan with seats and no suspension so sitting in the back of van was painful to say the least, every bump we hit, and there were plenty, rattled my bones. The Buddha was interesting but as with every other scenic spot of interest in the country it was swarming with Chinese tour groups that seem to think the whole hemisphere is sinking so they have to get round it first. The statue was impressive but it did look like it had been restored quite recently but to their credit this time the Chinese put in some effort. Our little party had a run in with a Chinese group who decided to link arms in a large semi circle at the only vantage point for a photo, we paid just as much as they had and when you travel in china many of the people will walk right in front of someone taking a picture, when in Rome/China, we had none of it and took our own photos. As we were descending the very narrow staircase called Nine Turns. One man from the party fell behind due to his photographic efforts and we were damned if he was getting in front of us even with him trying to squeeze passed every time a square inch opened. After seeing the Buddha from above and below we walked through the rest of the area at one point going through a small fishing village which had people so determined to push me into their shop/restaurant I feared I might lose my temper and flatten them. We crossed a bridge and walked up a few hundred steps to a monastery before heading back to meet our driver and stop in somewhere for a bite to eat. Within 30 mins of returning to the hostel id inhaled a burger and was heading out the door to catch a taxi. The driver i had thought he was Sterling Moss. I wasn’t complaining, the sooner i was in the airport the sooner i could relax a little although parts of the ride had me recounting my life in a matter of nano seconds. At one point we shot through a gap barely big enough for the taxi to fit. This is common practise in China but we were breaking the speed limit by 50kph and the two vehicles in question were an articulated truck and a bus. At the airport I had my lighter taken away from me and I forgot to swap my penknife to my rucksack so they were both confiscated. Two things you shouldn’t be without and id lost them both in 2mins.
On the plane I was eager to depart and to their credit we left right on time. I like to fly, the takeoff and landing being my favourite parts guessing when we will hit the correct speed to leave the tarmac and on landing when the wheels will touch down (a game my dad taught me) but on this flight I didn’t think we were going nearly fast enough and after 5 minutes in the air I thought we were going to fall out of the sky like a Led Zeppelin. Thankfully I was wrong! When we were landing I couldn’t play my game because there were no lights at all to use as a reference and I suspect there was smog as well, something that is unavoidable no matter where you go in China. Even on the mountains you can see smog over the horizon.
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