Who would not like to see the tallest Buddha in the world sculptured into a cliff overlooking the river? So naturally, we stopped in Leshan, where we checked into the “Post and Telecommunication Hotel”. If the name is a turn off – maybe the nearby post office is to blame – the rooms are super and quiet, but it lacks all the facilities of a traveler hostel. The price included a Chinese breakfast which was rice porridge and pickled, spicy vegetable. We really tried…Nevertheless, the best place to stay in Leshan!
Although it must have been a quiet day, the crowd control devices were in place, the stairs down to the Buddha’s feet were jam-packed with Chinese tourists. So we simply looked for an exit sign in this milling crowd and now have to go on with our life without standing next to its 8.5 meter long toes…
Luckily, the day before we had hopped on boat that takes you across the river and stops in front of the Giant Buddha for about ten minutes. This way, you get a good view from the river and have time to take photos. Of course, there were no westerners on the boat and the explanations were “Chinese to us”.
However, there was also a group of cheerful tourists from Singapore on board, who immediately approached and quizzed us with all kind of questions. One of them, a retired policeman, explained that we do not have to be afraid when Chinese people shout at each other. It is their way of communicating. We somehow had noticed… As a regular visitor to China, he could also report that a lot less people spit on the floor (gee, what must it have been like before!) and less beggars can be seen in the streets. This fact, in his opinion, is part of China’s effort to present itself favorably to the world audience arriving for the Olympics.
The riverfront in Leshan is big fun in the evening, since a lot of people stroll along the boardwalk, swim in the river or join the aerobic classes on the streets.
Dinner in Leshan was also special, since we came across this small restaurant that offered a kind of Chinese Fondue. Tables are equipped with deep pots filled with broth that can be brought to boil by propane gas. Then bundles of vegetable or meat that you chose beforehand from a kind of buffet were thrown into the boiling broth. A side dish made of peanuts, coriander, garlic and chili gives it its final touch.