Other than cute and cuddly pandas, I spent two days sightseeing in Chengdu, which I found to be my favorite city on this trip. 😀
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. To get to Chengdu from Xi’an, I chose to fly with Sichuan Airlines.Cost: 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.
Chengdu 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. 😀
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.A couple of panda lovers strolling the streets. ❤Now, 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.While here, I managed to sample some delicious Sichuan peppercorn beef, one of the region’s famous delicacies. 🙂At the end of this pedestrian street is a beautiful park, landscaped with stone bridges and a serene pond. Here, people were relaxing, having lunch, and even getting their ears cleaned. 😕Yes, you heard me right. 😛
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! 😛
On my final day in Chengdu, I took a local bus to the town of Leshan, to visit the world’s largest stone Buddha.
Leshan Buddha Scenic Area
The Leshan Giant Buddha is nearly 250 feet tall, and rightly stands as the largest stone Buddha in the world. Supposedly, 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.
The complete structure was carved out of a cliff face, overlooking the Min, Qingyi, and Dadu River.The 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. Miraculously, 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! 😀
The 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.
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. 😀
From there I strolled the surrounding scenic area, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 for its stunning natural beauty. While strolling the grounds, I found the Han Dynasty Cliff Tombs, which are elaborate cave graves protected by carvings of white dragons, dogs, and tigers. As well, upon leaving through the south exit, I came across this magnificent gem, sure to leave anyone speechless. 😀
A field teeming with rapeseed flowers, a couple harvesting honey from beehives, and the most picturesque bridge I’ve ever seen. 😀Men were fishing along the river as I walked past local shacks, along a path of rich red soil.
It was the perfect, unexpected moment that makes travel worthwhile. ❤
Cost: 13 USD for full access to the Leshan Giant Buddha and Leshan Scenic AreaAnyway, 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. 🙂