Thursday, January 1st, 2004 – Day 317 to Saturday, January 3rd, 2004 – Day 319

Thursday, January 1st, 2004 – Day 317

Hangover, big time and stayed in bed until 10.00am. Decided to do laundry but a queue for the machine. Waited around until 11.00am to get to the one washing machine. Ten Yuan charge for machine and powder. I walked town to the main street but stopped to have a noodle breakfast and some great steamed buns (8 small ones for 2 Yuan – .20 cent). I took the 78 bus into town and went on the NET. I am going to do little today.

I see about 400 tourists die in Australia each year. In Beijing, An American and a New Zealander were jailed yesterday on charges of plotting to explode balloons by remote control above Tiananmen Square and scatter pro-democracy leaflets.

As promised I did little. The population had a day off and they were enjoying it. Everyone was either shopping, rating or playing card games. They all seemed to be playing GO. There are even songs about this game. More information here.

Go is probably the oldest board game in the world. The history of Go stretches back some 3000 years, and the rules have remained essentially unchanged throughout this very long period. The game probably originated in China or the Himalayas. Mythology has it that the future of Tibet was once decided over a Go board, when the Buddhist ruler refused to go into battle; instead he challenged the aggressor to a game of Go to avoid bloodshed. In the Far East, where it originated, Go enjoys great popularity today, and interest in the game is growing steadily in Europe and America. Like Chess, Go is a game of skill – it has been described as being like four Chess games going on together on the same board – but it differs from Chess in many ways. The rules of Go are very simple and though, like Chess, it is a challenge to players’ analytical skills, there is far more scope in Go for intuition.

I spent some time looking for a place to record my camera pictures onto CD. I went on the NET, ate quite a lot and washed my clothes. I was back at the hostel around 10.00pm. I also researched about getting Public Transport to the Great Panda research Centre. It costs 70 Yuan if you take a tour.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Chengdu – mao Statue (01-01-2003)

Friday, January 2nd, 2004 – Day 318

I was up at 6.45am and had intended to go to the Panda Research Centre. Its best to get there before 10.00am (eating time) as they fall asleep after that. I don’t have much interest in Pandas. If I went to Dublin, would I go to the Zoo where they have a Panda. I decided not to go and sleep in until 10.00pm. I feel like doing less as my year away comes to an end. I headed down town and visited the various massive computer and technology plazas. Ireland is way behind. Multi storey shops full of the latest computer and gaget models. You can also buy pirate DVD’s here but its all cloak and dagger. A guy calls another guy, he comes, takes you away to a nearby warehouse or office to check them out. Prices are between 6.00 and 7.00 Yuan.

On he NET, it seems that China may have a new SARS case. In South Korean, the government has produced a disturbing film in a bid to scare upwardly-mobile parents out of giving their children tongue surgery to help them speak English.

I tried to buy a ticket to Leshan at the bus station bus. After much deliberations, they said come back before the first leaves tomorrow at 7.50am. A air hostess from CHINA Airlines advised to take a plane for the 2 hour drive. I don’t she was representing her company and the airport in Leshan is new but that was taking it a bit far.

The English translation signs in the bus were so funny. Its called “chenglish” – a combination between Chinese and English. Cross cultural differences. .

I went to my usual restaurant for my dinner and one beer for 6 Yuan. At 8.00pm guests at the hostel can watch any DVD they like from the large archive the hostel holds. THEY also have a projector. As I was the only few interested and did not feel like putting on anything new, I watched Trainspotting with another lad. A class film.

I put my bags into storage as I would be away for a few days and went to bed.

Saturday, January 3rd, 2004 – Day 319

I was up at 6.30am and made my way to the bus stop. I got a number 78 to the main road close to the station. I hate buying tickets for that day as you don’t know how busy the route will be and whether the tickets for the bus will be sold out. I bought a ticket for 35 Yuan at 7.15am. It left on time in the dark at 7.40am. I was reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (which I got for the Road to McCarthy at the hostel book swap). There were two perfectly dressed tourists on the bus about the same age as my self. They were scrubbed clean, well DRESSED etc and I felt for Pip in the book as he felt ashamed of his ticket boots.

I was heading to Leshan to see the Leshan Giant Buddha.

Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone sculpture of Buddha in the world, sits at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers. According to records, the carving of this giant Buddha was begun in the in the first year of the reign of the Tang Emperor Tang Xuanzong (713 AD), and completed in the 19th year of Emperor Dezong (803 AD), a total of 90 years.

Looking dignified and solemn, the Buddha measures 71 meters in height. His shoulders are 28 meters across. The head is 14.7 metes long and 10 meters broad with total 1021 buns of hair on it. The instep, which is 8.5 meters wide, can accommodate 100 people. The toe is large enough to accommodate a dinner table. Taller by 17 meters than the standing Buddha in Afghanistan, Leshan Giant Buddha is therefore the tallest Buddha in the world and in 1996, it was added to the World Natural and Cultural Heritage List.

It only took 1.40 minutes to get to the Central Station. Its a big city of 3.5 million people. It was very foggy and misty when I arrived. The best views are meant to be from the river but you could not see anything from the far bank. I decided to go directly to a attraction on the far side on town by taking the number 13 bus. Tourists in Leshan are bound to be bombarded with other Buddhist offerings.

Dongfang Fodu Gongyuan (Oriental Buddha Park), collects several thousand Buddha statues from around Asia. The centerpiece is reputedly the world’s longest reclining Buddha, measuring 170 meters

It was a pricy 30 Yuan in. I was there maybe an hour. IT was only mildly interesting. From there I took a bus back into town and had lunch. Two students approached me praticing there English. Before you know it, there were half a dozen people around watching the students go through dictionaries and writing notes.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Leshan – Dongfang (03-01-2004)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Leshan – Dongfang (03-01-2004)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Leshan – Dongfang (03-01-2004)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Leshan – Dongfang (03-01-2004)

They decided to accompany me to the river to get a better view of the Statue. During the winter months when there is little rain a dry island appears in the middle of the river. This island is right in front of the statue. We walked 25 minutes to get there and I paid 1 Yuan for a boat across. It was still very misty and foggy and while the views we good when the naked eye, they were poor with the camera. As it wasn’t exactly in the city, many kids were leaving off fireworks there.

I took the boat back in and had some snacks and walked around. I went on the net for an hour and walked back tot he bus station. It was now 4.00pm and I was taking a bus to Emei. I was lucky that a bus was just going. It wasnt 5.5 Yuan for the 1 hour journey.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Leshan – the Statue (03-01-2004)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Leshan – the town (03-01-2004)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Leshan – The town (03-01-2004)

When I got there, The Lonely Planet says go to the left and at the first intersection there will be buses for Baoguo. I walked to each intersection at east, west, south and no buses. They probably don’t run in the low season. I went back to the bus station and a girl who I thought was a tout said take a 10 Yuan taxi with her. I didn’t want to go and walked off to another local city bus station. She followed on bike and directly me tot he correct place about 15 minutes walk into town. She parked her bike and went with me on the 6 km bus ride (1 Yuan) to Baoguo. She was working with a guesthouse. She showed me a room in Teddys Hotel (I am not sure it was the original TEDDYS as they were still plastering and painting the place). Anyway the dorm bed was 30 Yuan. I said I would walk around town first. She was pulling her hair out trying to get me to register and then asked 25 Yuan for the room. It wasn’t the price and the poor girl was losing it. I decided to stay there. I ate in a restaurant next door called Teddys CAFE. They did a great honey pancake. Well you got the pancake and a massive jar of home made honey. Lovely. I had a great hot shower and had the 5 bed dorm to myself. I was to be up early tomorrow to hike.

The old Firm game with Celtic V Rangers was on at 8.30pm local time but there was no place to listen or watch it.