Asia | China | Sichuan Province | Leshan – The biggest stone Buddha in the world
Country inns have been a long standing tradition in Chinese villages, but has just become popular in recent years. The city folks, tired of their dusty surrounding, often spend their weekends in a country inn where the rooms are simple, the food is fresh from the field, and the air is unpolluted.
Most people who visit Leshan come to see the biggest stone Buddha in the world by riding on an expensive cruise boat. Little do they know that the best view of the Buddha is from the tip of an island in the middle of the Dadu River. WE traversed the island from north to south in half an hour, passing through vegetable fields where farmers were busy relieving the weight of soybean pods, string bean, and eggplant from the plants. The local farmers have learned to cater to the needs of the city folks, each adapting their farm houses to an inn with a clean front court, some even equipped with swingsets and see-saws.
A grand new temple built near the southern end of the island directly faces the big buddha was left locked up because of lack of management personnel, and two bulldogs guarded the grounds, following at a distance with suspicion. My common sense told me to stay off the prayer platform and just admire the architecture from afar.
I ended up staying in a pagoda in a country inn at the very tip of the island. The breeze cooled off my brain, all swollen from the heat during the previous days. I dazed at the swaying lotus in the pond next to the pagoda, the Buddha sitting across from the river, and the ripples in the water from the rain drops, until the owner told me it was lunch time. The soybeans used to make the tender tofu soup were freshly ground and boiled an hour ago. Mixed with rice and stir-fried string beans picked from the field, it was an epicurean meal for 50 cents.
I opened a book after lunch, but soon fell back into the dazed state until it was time to catch the last ferry back to Leshan.