July 3rd we were able to take off work at the panda base and go to Leshan for the day to see the giant Buddha. Alex was not able to take off work to go with us but he was able to have his friend Clair take us. Clair is from Leshan, when we found this out we knew we would have a great time. Leshan is only about a two hour bus ride from Chengdu. When we got there, her dad picked us up from the bus station. He wanted to take us to a famous dumpling place for lunch. We have eaten dumplings in Chengdu before but these dumplings were so good and had a spicy red chili dipping sauce.
After lunch he dropped us off at Mount Emei Scenic area where the giant Buddha is located. In the park there are a few other sights, people mostly go for the Buddha. The giant Buddha was carved out of the side of a mountain and is 71 meters tall. It is the largest Buddha in the world as well as the largest pre-modern statue in the world. The Buddha is located where three rivers converge. The construction was started in 713 by monk Haitong. He slept in a cave near the head of the Buddha. It was completed in 803. To get to the Buddha you had to walk up a lot of steps through the park. When we finally made it we were exhausted but it was well worth it. To get down we walked on the side of the mountain on some fairly steep and narrow steps, it was amazing views of the river and the Buddha.
When we were finished her father picked us up and we went to an early dinner. She ordered us a traditional Leshan dish, beef in some sort of broth. You would dip the beef in crushed red pepper and salt and eat with rice, it was very delicious. We had some extra time left after dinner until our bus left so she took us to look at her high school. I think it is very interesting to see schools from different countries. Her high school looked like a university, it was massive. They had a long pathway with many statues of famous people like Madame curie and Darwin. She had about 1,000 students in her grade! It was very nice to find a local person show us around and give us the local food to try.