Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The Big Buddha
All six of us woke up and took a van to Leshan. The Buddha has been carved out of the side of a riverside cliff and stands 71 meters tall. At the top, all one can see is the head. Then there is a rather steep stairwell alongisde, going to the bottom. There, Buddhists light incense, bow, and pray (as well as a throng of Chinese taking photos of themselves touching his toes, which are often taller than they are).
After the Buddha, we hiked around the mountain to see the temple (a seemingly never-ending series of steep steps up, down, around, and heavy heavy panting). We hiked so far that after forty minutes or so, we were all alone, the swarms of western and Chinese tourists alike apparently don't go that far around the mountain. Once we reached a little group of buildings, we all decided that lunch was a good idea.
As soon as we sat down at an empty table in the courtyard, a woman appeared energetically from a doorway and handed us dusty English menus. I believe the "rice that cooks the chicken" was a popular dish, but we were also interested in the plastic buckets of water that lined the walk. Inside these buckets were an assortment of seafood. I became intrigued by a large red trough full of crayfish, or what I, as a kid, called "crawdads."
The woman was only happy to cook up a plate full of them for us. She even let me pick out a few and help by pulling the heads off (which is surprisingly effortless).
While on our hike among all the other tourists and swarms of Chinese, Gunther continually told every girl that looked at him how "beautiful" she was. Now that we were somewhat secluded and eating, he momentarily paused and very thoughfully asked Margo whether or not she liked "she-males."
I thought Tom was going to choke to death on his mouthful of "crawdad."
After eating we hiked the rest of the way up to the temple, where I found a monk talking on his cell phone (which was a common theme throughout my time in China and Tibet, but upon first encountering...seemed strange).
Then we took riksha bikes all the way around the mountain to regroup with our driver.
That night Tom and I had a few email responses to our Tibet posts and were excited about getting the ball rolling.