Posted by: rob | July 12, 2007

A few days in Chengdu, China

Relics at Sanxingdui

Sanxingdui is some 50-60km from Chengdu, China, although we did not know that when we hailed the taxi to take us there. It is the site of an ancient city that was churning out the best bronze artifacts in the world more than 2000 years ago. Stranger still, the objects look completely foreign to China. This guy in the photo was about two metres wide. A smaller version of this gent is plated in gold, Tutankhamen style. The civilisation had a sun god and a chicken god, apparently. Had an excellent time here. About 50 staff attend to the 20 tourists when we arrived. Getting home was a bit of a trial, as it often is when you travel independently. I managed to haggle an OK price with a passing motorist (in China everyone is a taxi) but soon learnt he was a maniac driver. At least we got back in two pieces (one piece each).
Gardens at Dufu’s Cottage

The Chinese really know how to make a nice garden. Dufu’s Cottage is an extensive set of gardens on the location of an ancient Chinese poets pad. Dufu was around in about 700AD and seems like he was a nice fellow that people still like, given the care of the gardens. There is bamboo everywhere in this part of China and they use it for everything.
Giant Buddha at LeShan

This big buddha was created around the same time Mr Dufu was penning his verses. It stands 71m high, hewn from solid rock in 700AD. He watches over the confluence of three violent rivers. A local monk came up with the great idea of making a giant buddha and dumping the resulting rubble into the rivers to placate the flow. He even blinded himself in order to convince authorities to build it, which seems a bit extreme. These days throngs of tourists come to gawp and climb the mega staircase you see in shot. The guidebook says that six people could fit on each toenail, but makes no mention of why six people would want to stand on each toenail. We took the easier option of a boat trip that paddles just offshore for a few minutes, and a mighty and impressive sight it was. We didn’t get to check his ears out close up, but got a great view of the toenails.

Getting to leshan was also an interesting experience. There is very little English written anywhere in China, even at tourist sites and bus stations, and even less English spoken. Everyone tries their hardest and eventually you might get to the right place. The worst is coming back as you are often dropped on the outskirts of the city with crowds of touts offering various ways to get home. We took the local bus (Y1 – 6p).

Chengdu was a great place to visit, especially getting off the beaten path. We could have easily spent a few more days there visiting the surrounding sights.

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