We decided early one Saturday morning to take a 3 hour drive to see the largest Buddha in the world. The whole thing sounded pretty darn cool. We hooked up the DVD player in the van, got a ton 'o snacks for the kids, and we were off! It was an easy, non-eventful trip, and after arriving in Leshan and getting lost a few times due to poor signage, we found the scenic park where the Giant Buddha was located.
Spirits were high. We were out of Chengdu! We were exposing our kids to the culture of China! The park didn't seem that crowded! The kids didn't complain about all the stairs as we hiked up the hill!
And then, as we reached the top, I had a Ralphie moment from "Christmas Story." Oh fuuuuudddgge. Only I just stuck to that. I didn't say THE word, the big one, the queen mother of dirty words. Trust me, I'm a good mommy and an upstanding church member. What inspired such a gut-wrenching reaction, you may ask? THIS:
The long snaking line queued to the edge of the cliff where we'd all hike down to the Great Buddha's toes. And not just any line, but a line filled with hundreds, nay, thousands, of Chinese people who all wanted a glimpse of the magical golden-haired children. "Game on" my foot. It was more like gird up your loins, don your battle gear, and assume defensive stance for battle. Don't believe me? Just click on the picture below. I dare you.
There was no turning back once we entered that line. We had people craning, pushing, reaching, straining for any sort of contact with our little kids. We were the entertainment, stuck in this "cultural experience" for better or worse. Luckily Sadie didn't have to use the bathroom until after we had exited the cattle gate, and right before the crowd pressed us down the steep cliff stairs. It was the perfect opportunity, and I don't say perfect because there was a bathroom, I say perfect because there was finally a little space off to the side where I could let her relieve herself. As they say, when in China. . . . .Yes, Sadie peed on the scenic spot of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Shaun captured the whole sordid thing on camera.
3 hours after we got in line, we finally reached the base of the Leshan Giant Buddha. Sophie's face says it all.
We'll chalk this one up to a "China" experience, although I can't say we're ever, EVER going back.