This entire weekend has been exhausting. Exhausting in a good way, but I still have not been fully functional for the last two days.
Friday I got to miss class in order to go on one of our excursions. It was a two hour drive to get to LeShan. First, we went on a boat to see the Giant Buddha which was great because you got a clear view of the whole thing.
Then we had lunch which was much needed. Afterwards we hiked up some of the mountain. It was not really a difficult hike, although there were some misadventures. At the bottom of the mountain, I accidentally dropped my student card in the toilet before I used it. I haven’t exactly expressed the conditions of public toilets in China yet, but they are not good. I had to reach my hand in the toilet and grab my card which was not enjoyable at all and I never want to repeat that experience ever again. We hiked some of the mountain, but it was not too far. We mostly had to wait in a long line to see the Giant Buddha since it was quite crowded. The first thing you see is actually the head. It’s crazy because the ear is probably the size of two to three people length wise. It was gigantic. From the side angle, you can actually see a lot of attention made to the detail of the ears and other attributes. From there, you walk down, until you get to the feet.I do not think I can express how gigantic or magnificent it is. I can not imagine how long it took to create. Besides the Buddha, there are other engravings and sculptures along the mountain. Then there are two separate temples on the mountain. The Buddha inside the temple was so beautiful, as well as the other statues. They were embossed on gold and preserved very well. We were lucky and came at a time when the monks were gathered at prayer. We got to hear them chanting which was a cool experience. Many of the people visiting took the time to kneel in front of the Buddha and pay their respects. I never realized how prominent Buddhism still was in China. Now that I have visited quite a few temples, and seen all the people praying there, I see that it is much more common that I thought.
When we got to the hotel we had dinner and celebrated the birthday of one of my classmates! We had cake with cherry tomatoes on it so that was an interesting experience.
That night we went to a traditional Sichuan opera. At the opera there are many kinds of acts, such as singing, dancing, acrobatics and calligraphy. Before the show, there was an auction which I did not participate. But when the acts started I was blown away. The
costumes were beautiful and the dancing and singing was phenomenal. I remember the second act was a tea pouring act where the dancers did crazy stunts while pouring tea. There were also two men who did stunts, where one man would be held upside down by the other man with only one hand. Then, a man did puppet calligraphy. This is where a man has a large puppet on his shoulders and he just moves the arms with sticks in his hands. In this way, he writes calligraphy. After this, a man was singing and actually came up to my group. My friend next to me has blond hair and blue eyes, and the man pointed her out and asked her where she was from. When we told him we were from the United States, he said hello and then gave her the puppet calligraphy from on stage. Later, he actually serenaded her. It was funny but also very embarrassing for us. It was especially interesting to see the face changing arts. The performers can change these detailed masks in half a second with just a touch. Face changing is an art that originated in the Ming Dynasty and used to be a secret, only passed down within families of performers. I felt lucky to experience a unique performance like this one, which I would never have access to in the United States.