Giant Buddha

Trip Start Aug 25, 2010
Trip End Nov 23, 2010

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Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Monday, September 13, 2010

I went with three people to see the Giant Buddha in Leshan and we had an amazing day. Barbara is rfom Austrailia, Gonzalo is Portugese and Feng Tao is from Shanghai. Feng Tao and I spent the 2+ hour bus journey listening to my ipod - he dabbles in guitar/singing and I figured he'd appreciate some hard rock. His favorites were Down Rodeo by RATM and Blue Orchid by White Stripes. He clearly has excellent taste. He promised to learn Radiohead's Street Spirit (one of my 2 favorites ever - the other being Miracles by Jefferson Starship) and send me the mp3.

We got on a tourist boat and saw the Giant Buddha by water. Then Feng Tao ordered us an amazing lunch which we devoured (except him - he is a very light eater). Barbara didn't want to walk around the site so she took an early bus home and the two guys and I made our way to the site. It was incredibly impressive. Apparently, some monk back like 1300 years ago lived in a cave and started the project which took like 100 years to build. The whole of Sichuan is in more of a red stone/earth than the other areas I have been which where limestone and granite (I think). So it was cool to see some different things. The grounds were lovely. Thanks to Feng Tao I was able to  let my guard down and not worry about directions, transportation, etc. It was a real treat. We got back around 9:30 and it was simply a great day, with really nice people.

Tuesday I am doing laundry and hanging out with Dora the Panda guide who may be the funniest, nicest girl in China. Wednesday I fly to Xian - I reserved a room for 2 nights - if Xian stink I am going to Shanghair then Beijing. I have a feeling I will like Xian though - it's 3000 years old, has an ancient wall, many sites, and the terracotta warriors. So we will see - I am keeping my options open - I do need a good number of days in Beijing to see everything though...
Random Thought: I think I have finally figured out the underpinning reasons for why chinese drivers suck: Everyone has the right of way and at the same time no one has the right of way. Essentailly, if driving, you move forward until you hear a beep/honk that tells you otherwise. People drive slowly - even on the highways I haven't gone over 60mph. Around town, everyone goes about 20 miles an hour - tops - that is a good clip - and just cuts in wherever they can. If you get too close, you beep. Haven't seen any road rage.  The honking is maddening - especially in a jam where it's obvious no one is going anywhere.

Pedestrians take their lives into their own hands crossign the street because even though there maybe a walk signal, bikes, scooters and turning vehicles still go. You have to be aggressive because the traffic will never stop for you. At the same time, you have no right of way and must be very very careful.  

So, I think that in general, Chinese drivers come to America and still have that mentality that they have the right of way unless you beep - and proceed to cut you off an then drive 20mph - they don;t understand there is a whole etiquette involved with american driving, especially in the Northeast at least.
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