Stunned by Sichuan: Small Beauties and the Giant Leshan Buddha

Other than cute and cuddly pandas, I spent two days sightseeing in Chengdu, which I found to be my favorite city on this trip. ūüėÄ

Chengdu is located in Sichuan province, a region teeming with natural resources, and has been aptly named one of the China’s most livable cities.¬†3b31414d91894415b84ef36dTo get to Chengdu from Xi’an, I chose to fly¬†with¬†Sichuan Airlines.fligtCost: 100 USD (well worth it considering the speedy¬†1.5 hour flight)

When I arrived in town, luggage in tow, I strolled the gorgeous riverside walkway leading to my hostel. The river snaked through the city, where locals were taking a stroll and riding their bicycles.
DSC_1347Chengdu feels like a separate country from the congested and hazy likes of¬†Beijing and Xi’an. This city is very green, and landscaped with thousands of wildflowers.These eye-catching beauties were a variety of vibrant colors, sure to brighten up anyone’s day. ūüėÄpark


While in Chengdu, I stayed at Mrs. Panda Hostel, which had nice amenities, and only cost 5 USD per night.hoste

Chengdu¬†may not be¬†small, with a population over 10 million, but its¬†wide streets and¬†towering¬†buildings felt spacious, and reminded me of stunning¬†New York City.chengA couple of panda lovers¬†strolling the streets. ‚̧DSC_1404Now, downtown¬†Chengdu may be¬†modern, yet nearby¬†the city center is Jinli Ancient Street, a pedestrian alleyway¬†known for preserving traditional Chinese culture.

Jinli Ancient Street

Here, vibrant red lanterns lit up the sidewalk, as I made my way past Jinli’s charming shops and restaurants.DSC_1348DSC_1351DSC_1354DSC_1382While here, I¬†managed to sample some delicious Sichuan¬†peppercorn beef, one of the region’s¬†famous delicacies. ūüôājerkyAt the end of this pedestrian street¬†is a beautiful park, landscaped with¬†stone¬†bridges and¬†a serene¬†pond.¬†DSC_1385DSC_1378Here, people were relaxing, having lunch, and even getting their ears cleaned. ūüėēearsYes, you heard me right. ūüėõ

This intricate wax removal is unique to Chengdu, and involves an array of equipment, including feather-tipped probes, tiny scoops, and even a vibrating metal rod to create a sensation a bliss.

My¬†friend Helen managed to get one done during her visit, but couldn’t stop herself from laughing. When in China! ūüėõ

On my final day in Chengdu, I took a local bus to the town of Leshan, to visit the¬†world’s largest stone Buddha.¬†DSC_1571

Leshan Buddha Scenic Area

The Leshan Giant Buddha is nearly 250 feet tall, and rightly stands as the largest stone Buddha in the world. DSC_1577Supposedly, one foot is large enough to accommodate 100 standing monks. 
Its architecture is truly stunning, with over 1,000 spirals making up the Buddha’s locks, and dangling wooden ears,¬†large enough to shelter two whole people.
IMG_8872The complete¬†structure was carved out of a cliff face, overlooking the Min, Qingyi, and Dadu River.IMG_8876The idea for the Buddha began over 1,300 years ago, originally sought to ease the turbulent waters,¬†which had capsized numerous shipping vessels¬†with each passing¬†year.¬†DSC_1555Miraculously, carving the¬†stone Buddha produced so many rock deposits in the river, that the currents were indeed altered, and created a safer passageway for boats. Mission accomplished! ūüėÄ
DSC_1561The Leshan Buddha is now an international symbol of luck, and Buddhists and tourists alike make pilgrimage to this site each year to pay their respects.

waiting in line for the buddha

Now, when visiting, people are given the option of taking a cruise to see the Buddha or climbing the cliff for a closer look. 

Leshan boat cruise
cliff-side staircase

I didn’t take the cruise, but felt¬†the¬†up close and personal¬†view of the Buddha was absolutely incredible, and highly recommended to all my¬†fellow travelers. ūüėÄ
IMG_8881From there I strolled¬†the surrounding scenic area, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996¬†for its stunning natural beauty.¬†DSC_1581DSC_1558DSC_1582DSC_1557DSC_1556While strolling¬†the grounds, I found the¬†Han Dynasty Cliff Tombs, which are elaborate cave graves protected by¬†carvings of white dragons, dogs,¬†and tigers.¬†DSC_1591coffiAs well, upon leaving through the south exit, I came across this magnificent gem, sure to leave anyone speechless. ūüėÄ
DSC_1587A field teeming with rapeseed flowers, a couple harvesting honey from beehives, and the most picturesque bridge I’ve ever seen. ūüėÄDSC_1600Men were fishing along the river as I walked past¬†local shacks, along a path of rich red soil.
DSC_1603DSC_1601It was the perfect, unexpected moment that makes travel worthwhile. ‚̧

Cost: 13 USD for full access to the Leshan Giant Buddha and Leshan Scenic AreaDSC_1554Anyway, that wraps up my time in Chengdu.¬†Stay tuned to hear more about¬†Guilin, the next leg of my journey, including a crazy motorbike adventure across the countryside. Until then. ūüôā

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