Once on my way to Leshan, all was well! I made friends with two locals on the train ride who gave me an orange. One of them told me this was the first time in his entire life talking to a foreigner. I tried to imagine what it would be like to go my whole adolescent life only talking to people of my own race. How would my perspective be different?
After about an hour ride, I exited the train in hot and sunny Leshan! I hopped on a public bus that took me through the city and all the way to the entrance of the Leshan Buddha. The Buddha is within a larger park, so I bought an entrance ticket to the park and began to make my way. There were many other smaller Buddhas along the way, with locals praying and burning incense in the air.
I wasn’t quite sure how far of a walk it would be to get to the Buddha when all of a sudden I stumbled upon it….my jaw dropped for a second time. At first I could only see the Buddha’s head, and it was SO much bigger than I had imagined. I caught myself whispering “oh s**t, oh s**t” to myself for about a minute.
Getting a closer look, I found the Buddha to be absolutely magnificent. It looks out at the water below, and in the very far distance, Mt. Emei. Legend has it that a monk built the Buddha in hopes of calming the turbulent water below. Allegedly, when the Buddha was built over a period of 70+ years, so much stone was dumped into the water that it did in fact calm the waters!
After staring at the Buddha in awe for quite some time, wondering how I would measure up to it, I decided to get another view of it by descending to its base. There is a set of stairs built along side the wall of the rock which can be used to get to the base. Alongside the stairs, small figures are carved into the side of the rock.
At the base, I was shocked all over again. Here I could see more clearly details like the Buddha’s foot (just one toe alone seemed huge!). Again I stood here in awe for quite some time, trying my hardest to take in every detail with my eyes.
I spent the rest of the afternoon getting awesome mango tea and talking to more locals. Then in the evening I boarded another train to take me to Emei. After only 20 minutes I arrived in Emei, ate some of the spiciest dumplings I’ve ever had, and checked into my hostel for the night.