It's been a while since the pandas in Chengdu...we finally got a few more pics up of those cuddly bears.
In the mean time, we've been busy. From Chengdu, we took a couple of wild buses to Emei Shan - a mountainous region in central China. En route, we stopped at Leshan which is the site of the world's largest Buddha monument. Carved out of a cliff face, it indeed was large and spectacular (71 m). The legend goes that the monk who hired workers to build it was forced by the local government to pay them all the money made from the Buddha or else they'd carve out Buddha's jade eyes. (if you are quesy, stop reading...) The monk, a truly devote man, carved out his own eyes and presented them to the government leader. Needless to say, work went on and no payments were made to the government.
After that stop, we arrived at the base of Mount Emei, Baoguo - one of the most famous Buddhist sites in China. The pilgrimage included a 6 hour hike to the summit - which we are delighted to say, we conquered! It was fairly misty and in places, icy at the top, but quite beautiful. We were given bamboo canes which we thought were to steady our bambi-like legs on the way up. However, we soon learned that these canes were to protect us from the monkeys that attached tourists for their lunch!!! We saw a couple ahead of us get accosted, but found they were fairly calm as we passed.
During these 3 days, we stayed in Buddhist monasteries. They were basic but comfy. The most memorable part was of course the 5.30 am wake up to the sound of the Buddhist monks chanting, and gonging their bells and drums. Special!
All in all, a pleasant change from the smoggy cities.
Lots of love,
PS Congrats Erika on your first baby steps!