My encounter with the Great Buddha followed by another walk in the clouds... up to the Golden Summit of Mt Emei this time!

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Asia » China » Sichuan » Leshan » Emeishan
May 23rd 2013
Published: June 25th 2013
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My first visit to Leshan definitely wasn’t a successful one, very far from it actually. I got to Chengdu on Sunday so thought it would be best to head to the PSB office the very next day as wasn’t sure how long it would take to arrange everything. But then I found out that in Leshan you could get the visa extension on the same day (while in Chengdu it would take 5 days) so without even thinking about it, I got my bus ticket and headed to Leshan on Monday morning. According to LP I could just take a public bus there, I sure tried to do that… only to get a lot of head shaking and pointing all around from the bus drivers. Ok, taxi then! Tried a couple of them showing the drivers PSB’s address from LP but nobody seemed to know where it was exactly that I wanted to go (I started thinking that maybe they were afraid of me or something 😉 hmmm…). Well... This was going nowhere… Finally one taxi driver seemed to know the place! I was dropped off at some building with no name but since there were some security guards in front I assumed that I was in the right place. Well… As it turned out few seconds later I wasn’t… It was also some kind of government office but apparently PSB office was somewhere else – I imagine I wasn’t the first person that came to the wrong place as they already had little maps prepared for lost tourists pointing to the right office – when I say little I mean business card little – not exactly very detailed either as it was showing the current location and an arrow: 3km to PSB. Hmmm… As I was standing there thinking what to do next, the security guard came over and started shooing me away… Well obviously this had quite an impact on my mood! I looked at the tiny map and tried to see which way to go but of course there were no street names around. So just came back to the security guard hoping to get a bit more help, but the moment I started approaching the gate he just walked away… Honestly what the hell???? Another guard came straight after though and again started shooing me away and just laughed at my face… I was really feeling hopeless and was getting angry at this point so despite him being rude still tried to get some kind of info off him, which only made him laugh even more… Well, that was it! I just couldn’t hold it together anymore… as much as I tried not to cry, the tears just started rolling down my face… Well that kind of seemed to work a bit as the guard finally decided to help me out, he even caught a taxi for me and told the driver where to take me… The driver seemed to feel very sorry for me as well as he didn’t want to take my money after he dropped me off at PSB – honestly didn’t expect such a kindness after all the rudeness… which obviously caused more tears rolling down my face… yep! Lost it totally! Then they told me at PSB that it actually took two days to extend the visa here and I would have to show an address in Leshan. Hmmm… All my things were in Chengdu though… I know that it just would’ve been the easiest and the fastest way to extend my visa there, but at this point I was so fed up with Leshan that I just couldn’t be bothered looking for a hotel and my guts were twisting at the thought of staying a night there… So just decided to head back to Chengdu and apply there which only created a bit more stress for me that day (previous blog)…

So after all this hassle with the visa and unpleasant welcome to Leshan I was a bit more than anxious about getting back there and probably that’s why I left this trip almost for the last moment, but then since I was close to the Great Buddha already I just couldn’t cross it off the list… So decided to head to Leshan and then from there go straight to Emei Shan. It looked like I didn’t choose the best days to go there though as it was very humid and it definitely felt as if some kind of stormy weather was coming this way… Ah well… I kind of ran out of spare days at this point so it was either going now or not going at all…

This time it seemed that Leshan welcomed me with open arms though as everything went just perfect, well… simply meaning no troubles and crying at all. 😉 I was really looking forward to seeing the big Buddha as after all it is the tallest Buddha in the world and one of the ‘faces’ of China! As soon as I got off the bus I was surrounded by motorbikes shouting ‘Hello’ and ‘Dafo?’ at me… Well thank you very much but I thought I would try to get there by public bus. But first I wanted to get my ticket to Emei Shan for the afternoon, cause as welcomed as I felt in Leshan this time, I still didn’t feel the need to stay here for the night. I met two girls from Taiwan at the bus ticket counter, they seemed to be quite impressed with the fact I was travelling on my own in China (and without speaking Chinese!) which did boost my confidence a bit I have to say. Especially after feeling down the last few days, it was just amazing to hear someone found my journey inspiring. A nice conversation and a few kind words from strangers was all that was needed to make my day a lot brighter. So far I have come across a lot of people (especially in China as really you don’t see that many travelling on their own here) that had no trouble at all saying straight to my face that they found it weird that I was doing it on my own, even felt a bit of sympathy in their voices when they were saying that… Was happy that these girls were saying the opposite as the last thing I needed at this point was to have someone feeling sorry for me. So having met these girls sure felt very refreshing. After I got my ticket to Emei Shan I saw from far away that the bus going to the Buddha was pulling on the bus stop. I thought I would make a run for it and surely I would have missed it if it wasn’t for my new friends as they held the bus for me. So nice! They weren’t going to Dafo though so after a small chat in the bus we wished each other all the best and went our separate ways. Soon after I was walking up the steps to see the famous Buddha. First I had to dodge a few big groups of Chinese tourists though… 😉 It sure was hard to get a picture of the Buddha when I got to the viewing platform as the people around just didn’t bother waiting for you to take a shot, they were just getting in the middle of it… So thought it was best to check out the nearby temple first. Always feel good walking around the Buddhist temples – the smell of incense in the air, seeing the people paying respects to their Gods, despite all the crowds around there is still a sense of tranquillity in the air. In one of the temples there was a statue of happy Buddha and everyone passing it by touched its belly and hand, well I couldn’t pass it by without doing the same – gathering as many blessings as possible on the way! 😊 Skipping the big Buddha at the beginning turned out to be a pretty good idea as once I left the temple the viewing platform was empty. I had the Great Buddha all to myself! Well… kind of… as there were still vast numbers of people around… The statue sure is quite impressive! Carved into the cliff wall 1,200 years ago, 71 metres in height, this tall guy seems to be just sitting there and chilling and at the same time keeping his eye on the surroundings. Apparently the locals believe he has a calming effect on the rivers… Well… Might be! You never know… Then I walked down the steep stairway to glance upon the ‘big guy’ from a different perspective. You sure feel pretty small seeing him from the feet level. After posing for a number of pictures for Chinese tourists on the boats, it was time to say goodbye to the Great Buddha and head elsewhere. I got out of the park through the South Gate, passing by a charming little fishing village on the way. Straight away I got bombarded with bus and taxi offers back to Chengdu, again had to politely decline as had other plans, so just walked to the bus stop again. I really enjoyed this day even despite the impossible humid weather, and was happy that I gave Leshan a second chance after all, as it sure was worth a visit.

I got on the bus to Emei Shan, well to be exact to Baoguo village, with a big smile on my face and was ready to face another well-known place in China. As promising as the place looked like, the weather forecast unfortunately didn’t seem too optimistic… I went straight to Teddy Bear Hotel as it had some very good reviews and… got myself a bed in a dorm! Yep! I was officially becoming dedorminised!!!! 😉 I wasn’t sure if I wasn’t going to regret this decision as even at the first glance it seemed very damp in the room but I guess I would find out soon enough. First decided to treat myself to some cold beer and some lovely food – didn’t expect the meals would be so big here, as much as I tried to finish my huge bowl of spicy pork, when I finished my meal it looked as if I barely touched my food which obviously wasn’t the case! Just as I predicted it started lashing in the evening… Well… Despite that I went to bed with high hopes for good weather for the next day still. After all walking up the steps for 8 hours in rain didn’t seem that exciting…

I didn’t sleep too much that night and it sure wasn’t caused by excitement from spending my first night in a dorm! The room was full and the air even more damp because of that. Add to it an older snoring, coughing, choking and sleep-talking guy in the room and you definitely won’t be able to get a proper rest... Still one more thing to cross off my list – and will definitely try to avoid dorms from now on or at least try to get some with less people in the rooms. I am trying to avoid saying I’m too old for something, but this was definitely not my thing and think I’d rather pay more for a bit luxury and taking to account that so far the single rooms in China weren’t that expensive at all, I would just stick to them.

It sure was disappointing to wake up to overcast skies and see the streets full of puddles. It definitely looked too slippery to undertake an 8 hour climb that day. During breakfast I was looking at my options but it looked like there weren’t that many as the forecast for next day wasn’t any better and I just didn’t have any more days left to spare. Instead of climbing the whole way I decided to take a bus to the last station (Leidongping) and just walk from there – not exactly what I had in mind when I was coming here, but it would just have to do at this time. The higher up we went with the bus, the more misty and cloudy it became… And once I got off the bus it was raining again… Ah well… I was here already so there was no turning back now! Once I got to the Jieyin Monastery it was raining pretty hard and I couldn’t see anything further than 100 metres… It sure wasn’t looking too promising… Still, silly me, hoped that it would clear sometime during the afternoon... so just waited a bit through the heavy rain and started my ascent to Golden Summit... The original idea was to stay in one of the monasteries near the summit and just go to the top the next morning, but considering the weather (including the forecast for the next day) and the lack of people around I gave up on this idea after all (I did come across quite a number of people on the way to the summit, but nobody seemed to be staying in the monasteries and to be honest they looked quite abandoned and staying in one of them totally on my own in this miserable weather didn’t really seem like that much fun). I’m not really sure what I was expecting going up to the summit as certainly remember reading somewhere that there were steps leading up to the top, still I wasn’t prepared for that! There seemed to be no end to the steps!!! As easy as the steps seemed at the beginning, the higher up I went, the more difficult it was to walk… It was misty as hell and drizzling all along the way as well, my raincoat is certainly not breathable and sure is nowhere close to being waterproof, so felt soaked from inside as well as from the outside. After an hour of walking I started wondering that maybe they overestimated the trekking times that were given on the map as I should have passed another monastery long time ago and still there was no sign of it anywhere… After another half an hour finally I reached Taizi Ping Monastery (I was planning to stay there originally but it sure didn’t look too welcoming at this time) – on my map it looked like I had another hour and a half from there to the top which got me a bit worried as being all soaked and tired (my knees were begging for a bit of rest at this point) I didn’t exactly feel like walking that long anymore… Thankfully my map wasn’t right and half an hour later I was up at the Golden Summit (3,077m) or at least at the information table saying I was there as I couldn’t see anything around… I walked a bit further and soon could make out golden elephant shapes in the mist. As I got even further finally I came across a statue of Samantabhadra at the summit. I was quite surprised to see the picture of the statue as I sure wasn’t expecting there was more to it than what I saw, apparently it was way taller as I only got to see the elephants on it, the lowest level of it that is… I walked around the statue for a while, but soon after it was time to head back as the temperature seemed to have dropped quite a bit now and since I was totally soaked it felt even colder. It definitely took me much less time going back to the bus station – 45 minutes that is, I was really cold so just felt the need to warm up a bit. Thankfully the bus was waiting at the stop already. Well… My visit to Emei Shan definitely didn’t go as great as planned, still I had another day to explore the park a bit, so was hoping to see a bit more the next day. When I got to the hotel it turned out there were no more beds in a dorm anymore (what a shame??? 😉), so I got myself a nice single room (only for a double price of a bed in 6-bed dorm, what a bargain! And there would be no sounds of choking and snoring that night!).

Again the weather wasn’t that great in the morning. It wasn’t raining yet, but it sure felt like it was going to later on as it was pretty humid. Still I thought a short walk definitely wouldn’t hurt so straight after breakfast, checked out from the hotel and decided to give Emei Shan another chance. The closer I was getting to the entrance of the park, the more crowded it was getting. Hmmm… It looked like some kind of show or concert was taking place there as I could hear the music from far away already. It turned out to be some kind of show for kids as there were lots of them in the audience (but then lots of them performing as well!). I did spend quite a while there watching people – some of the kids were taking their performances very seriously and were practicing on the side while others were just fooling around. It sure was a funny sight. Loved how some of them were dressed as well – colourful costumes, cool haircuts and painted faces here and there. I could easily have stayed longer there but time was ticking and still wanted to walk around the park a bit so just headed to Fuhu temple. Having seen this small part of the park already I decided that definitely I would need to give this sacred mountain another chance sometime in the future as it surely felt like a lovely and peaceful place and once you are lucky enough to get some good weather the views must be more than rewarding! Well… looks like I might be coming back here one day… 😊

Additional photos below
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26th June 2013
at Emei Shan Park

Emei Shan Park
Love this photo
28th June 2013

How art thou Dafo?
Leshan...Oriental Buddha Park...Dafo...up Emeishan to the Golden Summit...even stayed at the Teddy Bear Hotel...probably had their speciality...a banana split. Fantastic adventure Anna. But I grieve for Dafo. From your pics they appear to be maintaining the steps up his left side...but the vegetation digging into his body seems incongrous considering the Oriental Buddha Park seems well maintained.
30th June 2013

Thanks for reading Dave. It's true what you're saying, they seem to be concentrating more on maintaining the park and keeping the tourists entertained rather than taking care of Dafo himself... Let's hope he stays there for another thousand years...

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