We kicked off our first day of touring with a 1.5 hr drive from the city center (picture creepy, crawly congested traffic) to nearby Leshan in order to see the giant buddha. Sightseeing in China is not for the fainthearted or folks in poor physical shape. This more southern part of China is warmer and definitely humid in comparison to arid Beijing in the north.
It took us 10 minutes to climb up multiple sets of steps just to get to the top of the head of the buddha and here is what we saw along the way.
Then the fun really started when we set off down this path carved into the face of the cliff adjacent to the buddha. It was the width of 1-2 folks for the entire trip down and had several switchbacks just to keep it interesting. Along the way we saw some carvings in niches, many that have worn away with time since the buddha was carved in the 8th and 9th centuries.
Here are some more buddha pics taken as we were descending and at the base where his feet are located.
Since I'm not buddhist, I have no idea what these followers are doing at the base of statue. It did kinda remind me of the Catholic practice of lighting candles (in this case incense) and kneeling at the altar (in this instance feet of the buddha).
Once we had huffed and puffed and shed light jackets on our way back to the top, we had the opportunity to check out a buddhist temple on the same site.
I had read articles on my CNN app about the poor air quality in Beijing, but had seen no evidence of it. However, I seem to have found it in the area around Chengdu. You can see proof of it in several of my pics above and most especially in the ones below... and these are after I've hit the enhance edit button to clean it up before posting it.
One of my favorite pics in Leshan was an old lock I spotted on the trek down to the base of the buddha.