The Land of Abundance, Chengdu (天府之国在成都)

Work took us to another wonderful Chinese capital city where giant pandas and the world’s largest stone Buddha reside. Located at southwest China and famed for its enchanting mountainous sceneries, lakes, ancient temples, spicy cuisine, face-change opera and Chinese white spirits, Chengdu (成都), the capital city of Sichuan province, is also known as the “Land of Abundance”.

There are just so much to explore and we had only one free day. My last Chengdu business trip was simply touch-and-go. I did not even have an extra day to explore around the city. This time, the meetings ended on a weekend so I managed to squeeze a few hours to tour around. Accompanied with my previous “Guilin Tour Group” (coincidently Chowpo, Celia and Tracy), we took a 2-hour slow drive down south to visit one of the the world’s oldest and most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the famous Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛).

Standing at 71m tall, this is the world’s largest stone Buddha. Craved out of a cliff face over a period of 90 years (AD713-AD803) during the Tang Dynasty, this is also the world’s tallest pre-modern statue. However, beyond its sheer size, there is another wonder and secret hidden deep within the status. Lies beneath its stony body is a complex drainage system that allows the status to discharge mountain waters so it is able to stand firmly over the past 1,200 years, withstanding natural erosions and earthquakes! What an ingenious engineering feat!

It takes about 2 slow hours just to hike close to this majestic site. (Check out those ant-hive-looking-tunnels on the cliff!) As the temperature was a soaring 38-degree high, we decided to skip the hike and took a boat ride to see this ancient wonder instead. It was a humbling experience, standing at the foot of the Buddha’s feet to witness its greatness.

I flew my drone (DJI Phantom 3P) around the site but due to a buggy firmware upgrade, I was forced to make an emergency landing when the drone was just halfway across the river. It was such a great day to fly! What a big disappointment for me (and the many curious Chinese onlookers too) !

We ended our day at Jinli Ancient Street (锦里古街)
where there were tons of tourists, panda-themed souvenirs, Chinese handicrafts and Sichuan delicacies. Each of us got our own personalised Chinese handicraft. Dinner was at a popular Sichuan restaurant where Tracy and Celia tortured themselves with some really spicy hotpots. Thanks to Celia’s wit, we managed to get a big private room all to ourselves.

One day is never enough at Chengdu. Definitely, we will be back soon for more exciting great works and joy!

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