BootsnAll Travel Network

Leshan and General Observations

After going to the police station, I decided to wait until Monday to extend my visa. Unlike last time in Guilin, I was told I would actually have to get a new visa which will cost me another $100 (instead of about $20). I don’t believe this is correct, but I decided to wait until Monday to get the most time out of the new visa. This meant that I had about four days to kill. I had originally thought about going to Emei Shan (a 3100 meter Buddhist mountain). I decided against doing this for two reasons.

1. My visa cost will be way higher than I expected, and Emei is an expensive side trip. People tell me that I shouldn’t worry so much about cost on this trip as this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Unfortunately I don’t have unlimited funds, and I do have a budget. This new exhorbitant visa extension fee will put a dent in my budget. Emei Shan was just a possible side trip, and I will be in the Himalayas soon enough. There are certain must-do items that I have on my trip, and I sometimes have to sacrifice other items to make sure that I have the money to do them. It is also rainy this weekend, and all the views will most probably be obscured.

2. I decided I needed a rest. Since leaving Beijing, I have begun to feel a little run down. I had a cold that finally left, but an unusual pressure around my nose and eyes has remained. I thought it might just be the result of being rundown. I have spent the weekend in Leshan sleeping a lot, and it hasn’t helped. Upon further research of my symptoms, I believe I may have a sinus infection. I will keep you posted. I have not made up my mind about going to a doctor yet. I have been in contact with a friend who is practicing medicine. I may try to self treat with my antimalarial medicine first.

Spending my four free days in Leshan has been interesting but also a little boring. There is not much to do here. I ran out of books, and the only English channel in my hotel room is news that repeats itself all the time. Today I picked up my visa, paid the exhorbitant fee, and found out that my visa was actually good for 30 days from the expiring of the old visa. This is exactly the opposite of what I was told twice. I am not surprised, though, as many Chinese officials seem to be more confused on what the actual laws state than I am.

Leshan is a small (for China) provincial town south of Chengdu with a population of about 150,000. The town sits at the merger point of two rivers. The river is quite muddy and shallow with a tremendous current. The main tourist draw here besides quick visa extensions is a 71 meter Buddha which was carved into a cliff opposite the town. The Buddha was carved as a protection for fisherman against the swift currents. I spent Saturday morning touring around the Buddha site which also includes several temples sitting on various hill sides. I spent the morning pounding up and down stairs. There are also various cave tombs which were used during the Han Dynasty. The sarcophogi and funeral artifacts are still there, but the bodies appear to be gone. I discovered this upon entering one of the open tombs. Most of them were blocked off by gates. The one that was open had a partially opened stone coffin. It was dark and you couldn’t really see inside. I decided to stick my camera in and take a picture and then look at the picture instead of peering too closely inside. I really didn’t feel like jumping if I saw an actual skeleton in there. In reality I knew the tomb was empty, but with some of the things I have seen in China, I wasn’t 100% sure.

The Big Buddha site was the only real tourist thing that I have done in Leshan. Besides sleeping and looking on the Internet, I walked around the town. Here I have run into all the things that I have read about China but had yet to experience. Let me preface by saying I have not seen one other foreigner in this town except for a brief conversation with an English teacher and some French tourists at the Buddha.

During my first night, I ate at a little road side restaurant that consisted of a few wooden tables on the street. At first I was reluctant to go in, because I can never go into these places without causing a scene. This was no different. I couldn’t read the menu of course. Upon realizing this, the waitress went to another table to try to get some teenagers to come translate for me. This resulted in a pushing and shoving match between the group to see who would actually come over. They all eventually came over surrounding me and giggling. One of the girls was a little braver and actually did the translating. I ended up with two hotpots of spicy beef and rice. Sichaun (the province I am in) is known for its spicy cooking, and I have yet to leave a restaurant without sweating. The group finally departed after inquiring about my views on the NBA.

I often encounter many people saying hello to me and then giggling when I respond. This is especially true of the teenage girls. While I was at the Buddha site, I was surrounded by a group of boys who wanted to take a picture with me. This is a fairly common occurrence for foreigners. One girl related to me earlier that she had been laying out on a beach in a bikini when she saw all these shadows over her. Much to her surprise it was not a total solar eclipse, but instead an entire Chinese family, including Grandma, was leaning over her wanting to take a picture with her. This is my second experience with this. When I was in the Forbidden city, I noticed a girl pointing at me and whispering to her male companion as he was about to take her picture. I guessed what she wanted and figured she was too shy to ask. So I ran over and posed in a picture with her while her companion clicked away.

One of the other items I had read about was the spitting issue in China. I hadn’t really seen it occur so far as many cities on the East coast have fines for spitting. Here in Leshan the phlegm flows freely. You can’t walk two minutes without the sound of someone pulling their innards up into their mouth so that they can be expelled onto the ground. This occurs anyplace and anytime. It doesn’t matter if they are eating or walking.

I have spent a lot of time on the Internet for lack of anything else to do, and it is cheap. Many of the blogs that I frequented are unaccessible in China. Mine seems to somehow have slipped through the cracks so I can still update it. Also in my Flickr account, I can’t actually view the pictures that I upload. This is why I have trouble labeling them. I have uploaded some more pictures by the way. Many news stories are also unavailable. For all its market reforms, the Chinese goverment still very much fears the free flow of information. On the official English news channel that I have watched here, there is never a dissenting voice. Watching this, one comes away with the view that the government is all wise and there are no problems in China.

As always, though, the people are very friendly once I get away from the tourist areas (and most of the time even there). I often write about the funny happenings in China as they are the most amusing, but I also have many normal day-to-day encounters as well. I have yet to be ripped off by a taxi or pedicab driver or robbed even though I have heard stories. I tried to take a pedicab driver to go to the visa office. He misunderstood and pedaled me to a normal police station. Finally after communicating the error, he hailed a cab for me after indicating that it was too far to pedal. It probably didn’t hurt that I still paid him.

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One Response to “Leshan and General Observations”

  1. Kellie Says:

    It does sound like a sinus infection, and I hope you feel better soon.

  2. Posted from United States United States
  3. Gashwin Says:

    To get around the great firewall of the People’s Republic try these sites:

    And only for blogs hosted by Blogger (blogspot) go to:


    Market reforms are all very good. China is still very much a totalitarian society.

    I guess you haven’t talked to any Christians there?

  4. Posted from United States United States
  5. admin Says:

    No I haven’t. I also haven’t really seen in Christian churches or communties since I have been here especially now that I am in Western China.

  6. Posted from China China

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