Early on Saturday morning our interns from the Chengdu branch headed out on the train for Leshan. The forecast suggested it would snow; a rare sight in Sichuan Province, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.
After getting off the train at Leshan, we took a short taxi ride to the Leshan Buddha and surrounding area. After paying our admission fee and entering through the gates, the beauty and the attraction on show stunned us!
Whilst it may be expected that it is just the Buddha on show at Leshan, there is in fact a whole array of statues and monuments to be admired. We started by ascending the mountain up to a look out point over the rivers beneath, where there was a fantastic view over the valley below.
After a short walk through a forested area we ended up at a pagoda standing tall at the top of a wide staircase. When we reached the foot of the pagoda we could see a few Buddhists walking around the square base reciting prayers.
We then headed towards the Giant Buddha taking in the sights as we walked through beautiful lily ponds full of Koi fish gracefully gliding through the water. At the head of the Buddha there was a giant bell being rung by a monk to ward off evil.
After briefly pausing at the top of the Buddha we headed towards the temple at the top of the mountain. Inside the temple were lots of people paying their respect to Buddhist figures, burning incense and leaving offerings.
Then it was time for the main event.
The Leshan Giant Buddha
The Leshan Giant Buddha stands a giant 71m tall and looks over the confluence of the rivers Dadu and Min. Which eventually flow in the giant Yangtze river. The Dadu starts its journey in the Tibetan plateau before winding its way through Kanding. Then onto Leshan eventually ending up in the East China Sea. This towering structure was built between 700-803 AD and contains an elaborate drainage system in order to prevent weathering.
After a short fact file by myself to prepare the interns for what was ahead, we made our way to the top of the stairs, which descend down the cliff face beside the Buddha. This allowed us to get a true feeling for the scale of the massive structure. Descending our way down was the perfect opportunity to capture some fantastic pictures before reaching the bottom. We took our time, and stood at the feet of the world’s largest pre-modern statue, capturing some images and enjoying the roars from the rivers below.
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During Chinese New Year I moved from Qingdao to Chengdu and took with me: my cat Paula (big thanks to my colleagues who helped me through all the paperwork to take her on an airplane!) and my Chinese colleague Leo (also well-known as MacGyver amongst the InternChina community!).
Both arrived safely and helped me to feel like at home from the first day on. Our mission is to set up a new office for InternChina and to welcome as many students from all over the world as soon as possible. Chengdu is a fascinating city and offers plenty of opportunities for career seekers or those who just want to get a first idea of this enormously growing country and their economy. Also for those, who are culturally interested in China, Chengdu has a lot to offer: Daoist and Buddhist temples in and around Chengdu, religious mountains and multiple Chinese ethnicities living in the city make the exploration of Chengdu a big adventure.
Even though the last weeks were busy with finding a good office location and settling down, I tried to stroll around the city and discover places for you which might be interesting when you come to Chengdu the first time in your life.
So, I started my tour with strolling around in Jing Li Ancient Street. This is a place where you can find traditional Chinese architecture blending in with the modern world of consumption. A fascinating place where you can buy Chinese souvenirs for your friends and family at home or try different exotic Chinese snacks. Right next to this street, there is the more than 300 years old Wu Hou Temple, which is a huge area including a bonsai tree garden and the perfect place to escape the bustling city life. Entrance fee is 60 RMB, but worth to pay, if you like to hang out in a peaceful place and discover the beauty of Zen gardens. Not far from the temple you can find the Tibetan streets, where you can see typical restaurants and shops for all religious equipment (like incense sticks, incense vessels and holders as well as praying pillows) can be found. People are friendly here and speak English, so you can easily purchase some Buddhist goods or clothes.
After my tour through Wuhou district, I felt really hungry and as I love to cook at home, I wanted to try another supermarket than Carrefour to buy groceries. So, I went to Raffles City, which is a very new Shopping Center in Chengdu (see picture), where you can easily get lost within all the shops and even in the supermarket, which turned out to be a labyrinth. However, they offer very good fresh meat and fresh sea fish, which usually is not possible in a city so far away from the sea. Also, one of the 36 Starbucks in Chengdu can be found here, so if you are thirsty for a good coffee in Chengdu, there is always a place to go.
Finally, I also tried a few Western and Chinese restaurants in Chengdu and I easily can say you can get food from all over the world here: I already had potato salad as my grandma used to make it, original Spanish Tapas along with a cheesecake cream dessert, Tex-Mex and Indian food, as well as fried goose from Hongkong, steamed shrimps dumplings (Cantonese) and of course all different kinds of hotpots!
As you can see, Chengdu is a city which is easy to explore and of course, if you come here for an internship you could discover the city with our InternChina team together!
Having an expat dad living in the same country as you has its perks: you get to tag along on his travels! I must admit, after witnessing all the preparations in the weeks before Chinese New Year, I was a little bummed out that I wouldn’t get to see the actual celebrations. But when the opportunity arises to travel to an exotic island in Southeast Asia, you just can’t say no!
I spent all of 8 days in Sri Lanka, and I have to say, it’s nothing like any country I’d been to before. For instance, around 70% of the population is Buddhist, meaning: lots and lots of temples! My dad is sort of a Buddhism aficionado, and it seems to be his personal mission to visit as many temples and shrines as possible. Sri Lanka definitely gave him a lot of material, including the stupas in the ancient city of Anuradhapura (where the oldest tree in recorded history has remained guarded for over 2000 years), the tiny temple where Buddha’s teachings were put in writing for the very first time, and of course, the Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple in Kandy, which houses Buddha’s Sacred Tooth Relic.
One consequence of visiting all these temples is you have to do a lot of climbing, since monks have the tendency to choose high grounds for their meditation duties. I am not a very sporty person and at the beginning I was a little mortified to have to climb all those steps, but I have to say the outcome is very much worth it. Especially at Sigiriya, the ancient fortress built on a flat rock nearly 400 metres high, where I literally felt like I was on top of the world.
Other awesome highlights of my trip were the visit to a spice garden, where I learned all about Sri Lankan medicinal herbs and got to buy a whole bag of goodies, the tea factory where I found out how my favourite cuppa (English Breakfast) gets made, and the gem factory, where I had to beg my dad for an elephant pendant with a tiny incrusted topaz. And let’s not forget about the food: with so many practising Buddhists, Sri Lankan cuisine relies a lot on vegetarian dishes, and most of the meat dishes are either chicken or seafood. But their amazing variety of spices and tropical ingredients all come together to create some of the most fresh, flavourful and – on top of it all – healthiest food I’ve ever had.
But my personal favourite was the chance to be in close contact with animals: as an animal lover, Sri Lanka is as close as paradise as I’ve ever been. Buddhism teaches to be kind to all living creatures, and you can really see that here. There are dogs and monkeys everywhere, and as dirty or skinny as they can be, people don’t mistreat them and they happily coexist. I also got to go on a safari at Yala National Park, and see all kind of birds, buffalos and even a short glimpse of a leopard. The cherry on top of the cake was the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Being mere metres away from dozens of elephants, watching them bathe and play and feed their babies – plus touching them and feeding them myself – was an experience I’ll never forget.
Coming to the other side of the world for an internship wasn’t just about work experience or even learning Chinese – it’s about having the opportunity to visit places you’ve only ever read about and never in your wildest dreams thought you’d see.
Want to explore Southeast Asia like Daniela? Come to Zhuhai for an internship and go on lots of adventures! Apply now via email or directly on our website!
My name is Philipp and I’m the victim of Bens sleep attacks 😉
I think everything has been said by Ben, so just a short summary:
- great beer
- excellent Chinese food
- beautiful city
- nice people
- and cheap, you can really live like a King