Now I’ve been to China before…I have lived here for a year and did a fair amount of touristy stuff so I like to think that I know when it’s good to go somewhere. Brushing all of my common sense and knowledge of China aside, I naturally decided to take some interns on a trip to see the Giant Buddha on one of the last Saturdays in the Chinese summer holiday…
We had a shaky start; people (including myself) arriving late, losing people at the station but hey- this is China right? Over-planned outings can tend to go a bit awry no? But none of that mattered once we had arrived in Leshan and loaded ourselves into three taxis to get to the Buddha. It was a short, seamless journey where I pretended to understand more than I actually did of what the taxi driver was talking about but nevertheless, we arrived at our destination unscathed.
Armed with our tickets and cameras we pressed up along the cliffs, taking shots of whatever we could and stopping to admire the scenery. I breathed a sigh of relief, the area wasn’t packed at all and we would be down to the foot of the Buddha in no time. That was until I we arrived at the actual queue for the Buddha.
Epic in proportion and gargantuan in length, we all knew that we were facing at least an hour or so of queuing before arriving at the steps that led down to the foot of the Buddha. The queue was everything that you experienced travelers are, hopefully, imagining right now- rather packed. But it was fine, all part of the China experience. Although I don’t think the faces of some of the interns shared this sentiment but we got to know each other well at least and made some new friends along the way.
Nothing could describe the sense of relief and accomplishment once the chain was lifted and we were allowed onto the steps, THREE hours after entering the queue. We sauntered down a few, stopped for some group photos with the Buddha’s head and confidently proceeded to conquer the rest of the journey. That was until I glanced over the ledge and witnessed the Exodus to the bottom. Time was running out fast and we were in danger of missing the last bus back to Chengdu. So calling it a day, we somersaulted over the barriers much to the surprise of the other tourists and trudged back out of the area.
Despite my relatively gloomy tone, I’d say the trip was a success. Quite a few of us were new to Chengdu and didn’t really know anybody at all. But long queues, I’ve found, are good places to tell your life story and hear the same from others. So kudos to Clare and Jacques for making the wait all the more interesting. Maybe next time we’ll reach the bottom?
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