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. 😀

Chengdu is located in Sichuan province, a region teeming with natural resources, and has been aptly named one of the China’s most livable cities3b31414d91894415b84ef36dTo 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. 😀park

Accommodation

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

http://chengdu-mrs-panda-hostel.chengduhotel.net/en/

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. 🙂jerkyAt the end of this pedestrian street is a beautiful park, landscaped with stone bridges and a serene pondDSC_1385DSC_1378Here, people were relaxing, having lunch, and even getting their ears cleaned. 😕earsYes, 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. 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
DSC_1572
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! 😀
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.

DSC_1565
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. 

DSC_1569
Leshan boat cruise
IMG_8877
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. 😀
IMG_8881From there I strolled the surrounding scenic area, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 for its stunning natural beautyDSC_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. 😀
DSC_1587A field teeming with rapeseed flowers, a couple harvesting honey from beehives, and the most picturesque bridge I’ve ever seen. 😀DSC_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. 🙂

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