During our whirlwind China adventure, the Jessetters took a one night trip to a tiny town called Leshan – well a tiny town by Chinese standards, population over 1 million! Leshan translated in Chinese means “Happy Mountain.” So who wouldn’t want to go to a place called Happy Mountain!?! In addition to the friendly name, the Leshan area is well known for two things: Mt. Emei and a giant Buddha.
Aside from playing with baby panda bears, visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mt. Emei (pronounced Mt. Lemay, yeah its confusing) was one of my favorite things during our Chinese trip. It is incredibly beautiful, and is considered to be a place of enlightenment. Mt. Emei is part of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China, and is also the tallest of them at over 10,000 feet (Perhaps the feeling of enlightenment comes from the lightheadedness of the altitude?)
It is quite a hike up the mountain, but there is shopping and great views to take your mind off the walk. If you can’t do the hike or you are wanting to try something new then you can pay some Chinese guys to carry you up in a chair! It was about $60 (negotiable) round trip for the chair. After the initial hike, a cable car will take you the rest of the way.
Once you reach the summit you are rewarded with a magnificent golden statue of Samantabhadra. If you visit on a good day you will also get to experience the “Cloud Sea,” a phenomenon in which there are clouds above and below you. It’s pretty spectacular. I could have spent an entire day at the top of the mountain being enlightened, but traveling with a group sometimes mean time restrictions.
In addition to Mt. Emei, the other interesting scenic marvel in the area is the Leshan Giant Buddha. The Jessetters have seen many Buddhas during our travels, but this one might be the most impressive. It is the largest stone carved Buddha in the world, and it stands 233 feet tall! Also, according to Wikipedia, it is the tallest pre-modern statue in the world. So yeah, it’s a big Buddha. We took a boat up to the base of the statue, and got some good pictures from the river.
As for the city of Leshan itself, there is plenty of shopping and restaurants to keep a person happy. The food/peppers in this area definitely have a kick to it compared to other areas, thanks to being in the Sichuan province. Mrs. Jessetter enjoys the spicy food, but my Midwestern tastebuds are quite sensitive!
I definitely recommend visiting Leshan and Mt. Emei, especially if you go to Chengdu which is only an hour or two away. You will not be disappointed.