This is the blog of Martin and Caroline as they go out and see some of the world

Sunday 20 November 2011

The Big Buddha and Buddha Cliffs – China

It turns out that although the station we arrived at was called Leshan we were actually staying in a place called Jiajing county, but we did not mind as we found a hotel with breakfast for £15 a night and we were only a 30 minute bus ride from Leshan so we decided to stay where we were.  We caught a bus to go and see the big Buddha aka Dafo in Leshan.  It is the biggest Buddha in the world and was carved out of a cliff face, work started in 713 AD and was completed in 803, it is 71m tall.

He is very impressive and it was nice to walk around the surrounding park area with some relative fresh air.  In summer I bet the place is rammed with tourists but it was not too bad as we got there early but by the time we were leaving there were Chinese tour groups arriving and it was starting to fill up.
On our way to the Buddha a very helpful lady on the bus whisked us through the bus depot and on to the tourist bus so fast that we did not see where we were or where we would have to get back to so when we left it became obvious we had no idea how to get back.  We got on the 1st bus that came along that was a number 13 and we thought we would ride it until we saw something that was familiar.  That did not happen and we got to the end of the line and had to get off.  We then went to catch the number 6 bus which the lady in the depot told us was going to central station but when we showed the bus driver the address of our hotel he told us to get a number 1 or a number 2 bus but when we showed them our hotel details they said no, wrong bus.  So we thought we would get the number 6 to the central depot thinking that this must be our depot to get home.  On we jumped, paid our 1 Yuan (10p) a piece bus fare and waited for the bus depot we were looking for to come into site. We then came to the end of the line again and this was no bus depot.  We thought we would get a bus back into town and just get a cab and would you believe the bus we went to get on was the one with the helpful driver who told us to get a number 1 or 2 bus.  He looked at us in disbelief and asked in Chinese what we were doing there.  In the end his friend who was on the bus with him drove us in his car to the bus depot.  We were very relieved to see it.  We got on the bus for JiaJiang and then ended up getting off at the wrong stop and had to get a cab to the hotel – not a good day for transport!

We had sat and had a cup of tea with the manageress of the hotel one evening who told us about the Buddha cliffs which were based in JiaJiang.  She said it was just a bus drive away and so we thought we would give it a go.  She also told us that the bus for it stopped right outside the hotel but while we waited not one bus stopped any where near us.  We hailed a cab and were quoted 15 yuan to get there, we knew it was outside the town so we thought that was probably a fair price.  It wasn’t until we got there and reaslied it was not that far away at all and if we had been on the meter then the journey would have probably cost us 6 yuan – if only we spoke Chinese we would have had words with the cab driver!
We paid our 7 yuan each to get in and had a wander round.  It was nice to be away from the crowds and the smells and able to just wander without bumping into people.  A lot of the Buddha faces had been smashed during the cutural revolution which was a shame.

There was a bus waiting when we walked out and we jumped on and were back at the hotel without a problem.
There was a big market laid out down one of the back streets and we decided to have a look, here we saw turtles hanging up by string waiting to be sold, fish dying in buckets, lots and lots of chunks of meat on display and a few skinned and gutted dogs for sale too. This is not that sanitised China that you see in the big tourist spots!

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