China Recap: Leshan & Mount Emei

China Recap:

Guangzhou

Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou

So after the whole being stuck on the mountain for three days shenanigans, having our 40 minute flight delayed for 7 hours, we finally made it back to Chengdu in one piece. I seriously think we caught a case of bad luck, although a couple that was delayed with us had it even worse. They were suppose to get on the Asiana flight (the one that crashed in San Francisco) to come to the tour, but had to miss the first few days because of that whole fiasco. So they basically traveled all the way to Sichuan province for one day at Jiuzhaigou before having to leave due to the mudslides. They definitely were not happy campers.

My mom and I had to make a quick decision to join the tour back in Chengdu to see pandas or go on our own private tour to see the Leshan Buddha. The decision was very easy for me, I came to see the buddha and wasn’t going to go home empty handed. We joined a local tour that called us at 4:50 am to tell us they were outside. Talk about early!

Leshan is around 2 hours south of Chengdu and home of the largest stone Buddha in the whole world.

We started our journey with eating wonton soup at a local spot. This was the first really good meal I ate for a few days, since the mountains didn’t have the best tasting dishes. Especially because they weren’t expecting 60 people to come bombard there little town. I ate every bite with delight.

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Then, we drove to the Buddha. I almost peed my pants with excitement!

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The tour guide told us a lot about the history of the Buddha, which was really interesting. To be really simplified:

A Buddhist monk in 713 AD, HaiTong started collecting money to build a huge stone buddha to help with the turbulent waters. The government stepped in and asked for the money, but he gouged out his own eyes in front of them to show his determination and sincerity about building the Buddha. They were able to build only the head until his death, two generations of his disciples were able to finish the job he started.

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Coming down the stairs on the left side going down. I am so fond of his smile, it is so subtle yet alluring. To me, it truly personifies the meaning of enlightenment.

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Touching his ear for good luck! I just want to remind everyone it was 88 degrees with 98% humidity. It was h.o.t. and sticky.

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The railing to come down was actually a little scary, there was a human traffic jam because the stairway was so narrow.

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Hi Mom! Photobombing the Leshan Buddha like it’s nothing.

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We finally made it to the bottom after 300 steps. (3 is a lucky number in Buddhism) It’s hard to comprehend how big this stone monument is, but to give you a hint, his nose alone is 9 feet long! His smallest toenail can hold a person laying down comfortably.

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More touching for good luck, this might give you a better showing of how huge he is.

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The attention to detail is amazing. I can’t believe they did this in the 700s, 1300 years ago, without the use of modern equipment, all by hand.

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For those wanting to go, you have to go this year because they are going to build him a pagoda house at the end of the year to protect him. Only his face will be visible. When he was first made, he lived in a pagoda house until the Mongols burned it down at the end of the Yuan dynasty, leaving him open to the environment. He also needs serious restorations to be done, or we won’t have this wonder of the world left in a hundred years.

Afterward, we went to Mount Emei, which is one of the four Buddhist mountains in China to get my Guan Yin jade necklace blessed by a higher up priest. I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures inside the temples, but they were jaw dropping and had a feel in the air that I couldn’t put a finger on. It was so traditional; there were dragon flies buzzing around, wild monkeys that came to hang out with people (!!!!!) and ponds with turtles and frogs.

We had to use this to go up 4,000 feet.

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Then walked down 4 miles worth of stairs. My calves are still hurting to this day.

At the end of my 14 hour day, my mom and I ate with another tour member at Sichuan spicy hot pot, which is what they are known for. I have been craving this meal since I booked the tickets in April.

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Street food in the big city.

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Now that’s it for China! I only have 1-2 recaps left, which is 6 days in Japan. We’ll see how many pictures I feel like taking, my index finger hurts from pushing the finger on my camera! I think some muscle is forming under there. 🙂

Would you of rather seen the pandas or Buddha? Could you handle the numbing spicy hot pot?

China Recap: Chengdu & Jiuzhaigou

Happy 6th Month Blogiversery to me! As cheesy as that sounds, I can’t believe it’s only been six months. I feel like I’ve been typing my life away for much longer now! Weird to say but I miss all you guys, whenever I get good WiFi I try to check how everyone is doing and start commenting again. I feel MIA!

China Recap:
Guangzhou

I left off the last recap about to board the plane to go to Chengdu!

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I really need to make a map for you guys, since I understand all these city names sound the same after a while. Chengdu is pretty much in central China and is the heart of Sichuan provence, home of the numbing spicy and pandas (!).

When I say spicy, I really mean spicy. They use huajiao, which is a seed that numbs your mouth when you cook with the oil. It’s painful but it feels so good at the same time. I think it’s my favorite flavor in the whole world.

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We walked around the city a little bit before heading home because 1.) it was starting to raining (boo) and 2.) we were starting our tour very early on the next morning.

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My mom and I signed up for a 8 day tour which involved a lot of ancient sightseeing and scenic landscapes. Our first stop was to Jiuzhaigou, which is described as a fairyland on Earth.

Since it’s up in the mountains, our tour bus wove through a change of 8,000 ft of elevation in 12 hours. Altitude sickness wasn’t even a question, my mom and I had to drink two of these three times a day. I don’t know if it was placebo or not, but I really did feel instantly better!

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Although our bus ride was around 12 hours long, the first 10 hours passed by like it was nothing. This was because we had the most beautiful scenic route ever. I seriously felt like I was in a movie, my words just dilute the beauty and serenity of the mountains. Pictures can’t even grasp the depth and mass of the huge land.

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Tucked in the mountains, away from big cities are where the Ginger people live. They’re still very traditional and choose to have little help from the Chinese government. I happened to capture one as she walked by.

Would you cross this bridge for a million bucks? I feel like this is where they film the climax of movies and the good guy makes it through and the bad guy gets washed away in the yellow river.

The Min Jiang river followed us over 500 miles, talk about huge! It connects to the Yangzte river (3rd largest in world) at some point.

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We also followed an ancient trade route where Princess Wencheng traveled for three years and married a Tibetan king to end the war in the year ~620. Some of it has been remodeled but the Chinese government has left a lot of it untouched. It really puts in perspective how old China is!

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During a bathroom break, I had a little fun doing this.

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A freakin’ yak! Can you believe it?! It kind of looks like a cross between a pig and a huge cow. I also can’t believe this view and we haven’t even entered the valley yet.

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We got to Princess Wencheng’s city and did the whole tourist schlep. Their wedding had a lot of cultural significance (which you can read about in the Wiki I posted above so I don’t mess up any facts). She’s known for her duty and compassion on both the Tibetan and Chinese sides.

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The last two hours of my bus ride started getting a little uncomfortable the higher we got up the mountain. At this time we were around 12,000 ft in the air. (Denver is around 6000~ ft for comparison).

A good night of sleep helped a lot.

The next day, we were finally able to go to Jiuzhaigou! Our tour guide said the first river we were going to see was the people river. Boy, she was not kidding.

Can you find us?

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The bus ride was so worth it. I was in complete zen and tranquility.

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The water in some of the lakes were so clear, like Jamaica mon clear.

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We also saw some pretty bad ass waterfalls. I’d say Jiuzhaigou is Yellowstone on steroids, to put in comparison. (My, I really have a way with words, huh? 😉 )

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Then, it started raining. Boo. At least it wasn’t 80+ degrees plus 99% humidity like it was on some days of my trip.

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With over 20,000 people in the park that day, my mom and I was so surprised that there were some passages without human interaction. It was really nice to not have to get into elbow fights with a bunch of Chinese people.

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Jiuzhaigou translates to Valley of Nine Villages. There are 7 existing Tibetan tribes that still live inside the national park this day. It’s pretty shocking to think about. Here is one of their houses.

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One last picture of the five colored pond, which in autumn looks really breathtaking. The lake is pretty much clear, so it takes the reflection off the red, yellow and orange leaves and becomes a million dollar view.

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I tried looking for a five colored pictures for you guys on google but the internet is really sluggish right now! Do yourself a favor and please google it!

After leaving and eating, we went to eat in a local town where I ran into this cutie. He was loving the camera and kept wanting to see the pictures I took!

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My mom also started crying when she found out that this goat was going to be slaughtered as soon as the meat for-sale next to him sold. I asked her where she thought her dinner came from? (We don’t eat lamb/goat btw, you get the point though.)

He was so photogenic.

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Lots and lots of bracelets for sale. I picked a few up for souvenirs for friends but left them at the hotel by accident. 🙁 I was so upset when I unpacked.

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We were having a blast, making our way downtown, walking fast, faces pass to go homebound when we got hit with terrible news. There was mudslides, earthquakes and collapsed bridges that blocked our way home. We were going to be stuck on the mountain for an unknown amount of time. Over 400 people died and we would of been stuck in the tunnel if we left the mountains four hours earlier. We seriously got lucky. Panic struck our tour buses while everyone was racing to book flights back to the big city. Luckily, our family in Guangzhou was able to arrange us to leave as soon as we found out the bad news.

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The mudslides pretty much cancelled our tour, we weren’t going to see anything else which pretty much bummed me out because the only reason I came was to see the Leshan Buddha.

Everyone got a flight booked out by night time, but we had to stay in butt fuck Egypt for two nights. There was only WiFi in the lobby which lead to a human disaster. The WiFi signal was only strong by this door, we all got a good chuckle out of it.

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The last day, everyone was in good spirits because we had an amazing tour group. Everyone pulled together and acted as a huge family. I seriously felt like I was in the movie Babel at some point during all the chaos. I don’t mean to sound dramatic but it was really nerve wrecking for a long time.

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I know my mom and I made some friends for life!

The next post (and last China post!) will leave you wondering if I chose between seeing the Pandas or the biggest Buddha in the world for our last day in Sichuan province. Tune in next time!

China Recap: Guangzhou

Hi friends! I’ve been in China in one week now and it feels like five! We’ve been moving around non-stop since we got here and it feels good to finally catch a break. I’m actually on a 10 hour bus ride right now, so that’s something. WiFi is far and few in Sichuan province, but that story is for another day.

I want to go back to the first few days we got here, starting from July 5th-July 7th. I’m not going to tell you every little detail I did everyday, because you will probably read until your eyes bleed. I’ll let the pictures tell the story. 🙂

So we left America at 1:30 AM (July 5th) and got to Hong Kong at 5:30 AM China time (July 6th). Felt so good to use my legs after a 13-hour flight! It actually wasn’t as bad as it sounded, surprisingly. I slept for 7 hours, watched the penultimate season of The Office (which I stopped watching when Steve Carrell left and was surprisingly happy to pick it back up) and fell back asleep for another 2.

Hong Kong is an awesome place, too bad we didn’t get to stay too long because we were on our way to travel more to Guangzhou.

We got to Guangzhou(where my family lives), around a four hour bus ride away, around 12:00 pm. So technically I’ve been traveling for close to 24 hours at this point. All I wanted was a shower and it felt so good when we got to my aunts house.

A fun picture for you guys, all the garages in southern China has these safe looking doors to protect from floods, all-hell-breaks-loose type situations, etc. They look kind of Stalin-era, no?

What is this blog without food? Dim sum is definitely a priority after a long day of travel. For those that’s not familiar, it’s kind of like Chinese tapas for brunch, where you order a bunch of little plates and share with your table.

Pork spareribs, you eat these by sucking on the bone.

Haw gow, shrimp dumplings! I think everyone has heard about these before!

There are many cars in China, but not everyone can drive one like they can in America. Cars costs about 2x as much because of import taxes and the way they monopolize it. For example, a Toyota Corolla which is normally $20,000 is ~$40,000. My aunt had business to do, so we took the subway, which is actually so much more convienent then the BART system in San Francisco. We got to all our destinations so quickly!
This token costs 4 RMB/ 75 cents USD for 6 stops.

Starbucks is just as popular in China as it is everywhere else in the worlds, except they have cooler flavors then we do, such as Red Bean Green Tea fraps, for those loving tea, they can check out letsmatcha.com to find the best tea online.

Everything is so cheap, the locals often get their hair washed in salons if they’re too lazy to do at home. When in Rome, right? A blow out in SF costs around $60 + tip (USD), in China it costs around $4 (USD) no tip.
This lady knows her way with her fingers, I almost fell asleep when she was massaging my head.

Something I really love about Guangzhou is the greenery is abundant, all the roads are canopied by so many lush trees.

We visited my mom’s friend who has a pretty bad-ass view of the whole city. I wanted to note that the sky looks like it’s about to rain but it was 80+ degrees with 90% humidity. Yuck! That smog is out of control, my cousin told me that blue skies are hard to find these days. That’s something I still can’t wrap my head around. It was even worse in Beijing when I went in 2010.

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Incase you were wondering how much I stick out, here is a picture of my family! Getting stared at is getting a little old, but on the other hand, you get treated a lot better for having a Western face.
My uncle Ping, my cousin Nakahiro, me, my auntie Ming, my mom, my auntie (mom’s sister) Yin.

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More yummy dim sum. This is chicken feet, would you dare to eat it?

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We also spent a little bit of time at a Buddhist temple to give thanks. I picked up a pretty string bracelet to go with my Jade bracelet. I wish I could take pictures of the temple because it was so beautiful, but I didn’t feel right taking a picture of the Buddha and Guan Yin.

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Just people walking and setting up there street shops on the side of the road.

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There are a lot of people with amputated arms and legs drawing, singing, begging on the streets. Although not as much in Guangzhou as there is in heavily populated tourist areas like Beijing or Xi’an. I’m not sure if it applies to this guy, but bad people will kidnap kids when they are younger and chop off their arms or legs and send them to the streets to beg and report all the money back to the evil guys.

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Street food snacks before dinner, pig intestines and turnips. I passed on the intestines, just because I had enough weird food for one day. The sauce was delicious though.

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We had a really good dinner after a few hours of shopping. Here is the chef’s assistant cutting our Peking duck. The waitresses were so attentive, we had around 3-4 serving our table. For example, the second your tea gets passed a certain point, the refill it. Or they give you a new plate every 20 minutes. It sounds really obnoxious but they’re also secret ninjas so you don’t even realize they did it until they’re done.

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Finally, I will leave this post off with the two cutest dog and cat ever! They were both sitting there like the Sphinx, just chilling in front of both sides of the shop. I’ve never seen animals do that on their own before!

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I have a lot to catch up on, including the amazing new wonder of the world JiuZhaiGou. I might end up posting on Wednesday and Friday next week as well or even earlier. On Monday, we have Liz from I Have a great weekend!
What’s your favorite part of traveling?