Chinese Coat of Arms

Exploring China
Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Songpan, Yangshuo

China
May 2007

Beijing - Xi'an - Chengdu - Songpan - Yangshuo - Back in Beijing

Page: 3 / 6


Chengdu

Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province and the 5th most populous city in China, with estimated 11 million residents in the city area. As we quickly came to realize, due to its location Chengdu has one of the lowest sunshine rates in China, most of the days are foggy and cloudy.

Once again on the train. Countryside is getting more diverse, and train is driving slower than to Xi'an

City streets while driving to the hostel

In Chengdu, we stayed at the Holly's Hostel. The plan for the day after putting down our luggage was to go to Leshan, 180 km south of Chengdu, and see the Giant Buddha, the tallest stone Buddha statue in the world, carved out of a cliff face on the Emei mountain. This was the first day we were let down by the weather, it's lightly drizzling most of the day.

Driving to Leshan,
a thick fog all around
Sichuan is one of the main green tea provinces, and Chengdu
is well known for their teahouses. We stopped in one on the way.
Entrance to the
Giant Buddha site

There are many Buddha and other smaller statues along the path leading to the top
of the Giant Buddha
One of the pavilions
where visitors can rest

Buddha's head and a view down to its feet
by the river before starting to descend
Even if raining, there is
a long slow-moving line
Slowly descending on Buddha's right side..

...on wet slippery stairs A view to the bottom platform, worshippers lighting joss sticks

Going further down with the crowd Final descend to
the bottom
Giant Buddha as viewed
from the feet up

Incense is burnt in a
big pot at Buddha's feet
Leshan city in a
thick fog
Taking the stairs on the other side back to
the top, by a small waterfall
A pavilion with
a huge bell

There is a nice small
temple near the top of
the Giant Buddha site
It's supposed to be
good luck to rub this
Buddha's belly
Arhats at Great
Buddha Temple
Lighting candles and joss-sticks
as an offering and asking for benefits

Young monks presenting
their work
There is a beautiful and peaceful garden with thick vegetation
behind the temple on the way down
Everywhere to be
seen, rickshaws

The next day we have visited one of the Chinas greatest national treasures, pandas. Pandas are found in wild only in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, and there are fewer than 1000 of them left, a majority of them in the Sichuan province. Just outside Chengdu is the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center has been created and imitates the pandas' natural habitat in order that they might have a the best possible environment for rearing and breeding. The center is open to visitors for further scientific education and to improve public awareness of the protection of both wild creatures and their environment.

Driving 10 km
outside Chendu...
... to the Giant Panda
Breeding Research Center
We are lucky, pandas are very active and playful this morning

Way too many photos of pandas. They have about 50 pandas in the center, of varying ages.

AVI Video clip
480x640, 30fps, XVID, MP3 stereo
(17 seconds, 5.97 MB)

The center is arranged
as a very nice park
There was a peacock
walking around
The center also has a few lesser pandas, also known as
red pandas, or small pandas

They are much smaller than giant pandas, quite cute,
and resemble a mixture between a fox and a raccoon
For a fee, you take a picture with one

Returning from the panda center, we visited the Wenshu Monastery, Chengdu's oldest, largest, and best-preserved Buddhist temple in the Chengdu city. We treated ourselves with a vegetarian lunch prepared by monks in the monastery's restaurant, and relaxed in the adjoining teahouse. The afternoon was free to explore the city on our own, and in the evening we are going to see a Chinese opera performance in the local theater.

Local streets with many small shops
near the Wenshu monastery
Wenshu monastery dates in the 6th century, it has almost
200 buildings, and comes with a distinct red wall

Delicate gardens and statues inside the monastery A nice meal in the monastery's restaurant, everything is vegetarian

Relaxing by a
cup of green tea
Walking around Chengdu and
stumbling on a marketstreet
Live fish and eel are
common to find on markets

In the evening, we visited the Sichuan Opera in the Shufengyayun Operatic Circle in the Chengdu Culture Park. With a cup of ever-present green tea you can enjoy performances like the famous magical Changing faces, where actors are capable of changing as many as 10 masks/makeups in less that 20 seconds, each with an instant split-moment gesture! Other performances also include musical solos, acrobatics, hand shadow show, Rolling Light (clown play while balancing a flaming bowl on one's head), and Spitting Fire.

Shufengyayun Opera
in Chengdu
Inside the theater Attendants with special
tea pots for refilling

Opening performance, traditional music, and a dancing act Sichuan Opera puppets on sticks,
amazing skills, puppet comes to life

One of the dancing
routines
A humorous play where
wife punishes husband
Changing Faces and
Spitting Fire

Next page: Songpan