Giant Panda, Giant Buddha – a day in Chengdu, China

As I write this, I’m in a DiDi for a two hour journey.. currently negotiating China ‘level 9’ (see earlier post about getting to “level 8”) after a Sichuan adventure today with my girl Rach.

We were reunited in Chengdu last night, I flew from Shanghai and she came in from Hong Kong. I had made some new German & Chinese friends whilst I waited and was a little tipsy after a number of flaming Bai Jiu shots (basically Chinese vodka) haha! It was SO good to see a familiar face, and also so weird that she’s here in China having been here for the month with the IBM team.

In Chengdu we stayed at XiShu Garden Inn, which was actually panda themed, very apt. There was a free BBQ the night I arrived and there’s beers and stuff at the rooftop bar (as per my earlier comment on drunkenness).

An early start today we had planned to head south straight to Leshan to see the giant Buddha early doors, then head to see the pandas later on if we had time. We didn’t make the early train for Leshan so we bought a ticket for lunchtime so we could spend the afternoon there instead.

TOP TIP – Chinese train travel is like air travel, you gotta get your ticket early, arrive early, there’s ticket scanning and bag scanners – no sprinting through the station for a train here I tell ya!

The positive news (after the train debacle) is that the metro is super easy to navigate AND if you wanna see the pandas you get off at Panda avenue 🐼 – easy (finally).

We head straight there and we’re in there before 9am, perfect timing for seeing pandas eating their breakfast. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda breeding, which is actually renowned internationally for their efforts in panda breeding, conservation and education for the public. Was cool seeing them all, they literally are so floppy and have proper characters when they’re interacting etc. We had a couple of hours in the park, chilling, taking photos and hanging out with the pandas 🐼😝!

Back to Chengdu East train station to pick up snacks and catch our train to Leshan yay. Once we arrived, planning ahead this time, we asked to book our train home (hahah the lastest China challenge) – oh, no. No more tickets left on any of the trains back to Chengdu hahah. Taxi it is then haha whoops.. (hence me right now making the most of the ride whilst I write…)

Slightly easier transport was the K1 bus from Leshan station straight to the Giant Buddha site. The Buddha was built between 713 and 803 – it took 90 years to build, and wow its big I’m not surprised. Like how you even know where to start is beyond me?!

It is 71 meters (around 233 ft) high, and has 8.3-meter-long (around 27 ft) fingers. The 9-meter-wide (around 30 ft) instep is big enough for one hundred people to sit on and the 24-meter-wide (around 79 ft) shoulder is large enough to be a basketball court (stats from here)

It was reaaaallly busy at the Buddha and we queued all the way down the staircase to get a close up view of the big man. So worth it though!! Check. Him. Out.

After, we took selfies with locals and climbed 250+ steps to Lingbao Temple, then ordered a DiDi for our epic journey back to Chengdu…

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a day in chengdu, china
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