The train ride to Chengdu was long and tiring; I found it very difficult to rest, which I usually don’t have trouble with. The hostel I was staying at offered a free pick up service, so when I exited the station there was someone waiting for me; this was superb. Once checked in, I headed out to go to one of the panda bases. I asked how to get to the bus station and proceeded accordingly. I exited the bus at the “Xiananmen Station,” and then couldn’t find the Xiananmen station. I followed a variety of directions given to me over the course of the next hour, and eventually found the station. When I got there and went to buy a ticket for the bus, the woman yelled at me and said “It is very late!” (It was 3PM) She refused to sell me a ticket. Once again annoyed by China, I headed back to the hostel, passed out and slept the rest of the day.
On Tuesday I successfully made it to the panda base, which was nothing short of adorable. Pandas are so damn cute! And lucky me, there were baby pandas that were only a few weeks old, being kept and cared for in incubators. I question whether there is anything cuter in the universe than a baby panda. After two hours, I headed back to the city in order to catch a bus to Emei Shan, which is one of four sacred Buddhist mountains in China. My plan was to spend the night in a temple on the mountain and hike for hours. My plan was thwarted however, because by the time I arrived, the mountain buses were no longer running. I ended up staying in a hostel in a small town at the base of the mountain, which actually ended up being a wonderful turn of events. I spent the night hanging out with a couple of Australians who were traveling together, Sara and Alex. They were wonderful, and their company was superb. We went for dinner at a place just down the road that served grilled skewers.
On Wednesday morning we planned to begin our hike together. We woke early, but they took their time getting ready to leave. They had several days to spend there, and decided that they wanted to hike the entire mountain, from base to summit and back down again. I had far less time to spend, so we parted ways and I took a bus to a cable car station. It was pouring. My shoes once again got soaked through, and my grand ambitions of hiking for hours rapidly deteriorated. Instead of heading up, I decided only to head down. It still took me several hours, and despite the perpetual rain, it was still very beautiful. I wished I’d had the time and weather-proof shoes to persevere and reach the summit. From Emei Shan, I took another bus to Leshan, a town that boasts the biggest buddha in the world. The buddha is carved into the side of a mountain, and has remained watching over the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers for over 1200 years. It truly is a remarkable sight. Still sore from hiking Hua Shan only a few days before, I got to a point where I was certain that my legs could not handle any more stairs, and returned to Chengdu. I showered and slept, waking up early on Thursday to catch a flight to Guangzhou.
Cutest thing ever? Yes. Basically just yes.
Alex and Sara, my new Australian friends!
This is my favorite shot from Emei Shan, because of all the wonderful colors!
This is a dragon, carved into the mountain as Leshan. In Chinese culture, the dragon is a symbol of protection.
Incense is burned in all of the temples here; it is an integral part of prayer.
This is the Leshan Buddha; he is 233 feet tall!
This is the cliff that you need to descend to see the Buddha from the bottom. The path is single file, the steps are steep, and people move like snails. It took about half an hour to get from top to bottom!
So, that was Chengdu… now off to Macau (via the Guangzhou airport… and some buses)