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Tuesday 07.08.2012

This day was a typical traveling day going to our next stop Chengdu. We were picked up from our hotel at 10.00 am, drove to China Post first for some stamps and after that drove for almost 3 hours to get to the airport. After checking in we found out that the flight had been delayed, in the end we departed 3 hours late. This meant we arrived early in the evening instead of in the afternoon. Too bad, wasted time, but “shit happens”. The taxi driver dropped us on a main street, and said the hotel was just accros the street, only it wasn't. Luckily we also had the adress in Chinese, since most English translations are not a big help, and after 20 – 25 minutes of searching we found the hotel, not just accross the street.

The hotel was huge, a lot of marble floors, long corridors and it seemed to us that we needed a map to find our room. Anyway, we got installed for the night, went to a restaurant for a late dinner (actually a very good one), watched Epke win his gold medal at the Olympics and went to sleep.

Wednesday 08.08.2012

To find the restaurant in this huge hotel we needed a map again and enjoyed a great breakfast. After that we checked out and met mister Wang, our driver today.

First we went through the city to go to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Once arrived we had a walk through this park, saw both giant pandas as well as red pandas and a movie about their life and habitat ( It is one of the oldest spiecies on earth, for over 8 million years they exist, but are now very rare. Only 2000 are counted. At this place, a sanctuary, they breed pandas to get their numbers up again, with success, though it takes a lot of time. Getting a female pregnant isn't done the natural way, but artificially.

After watching the movie mister Wang drove us through the city again, and about 3 hours later we arrived in Leshan, a village at the confluence of 3 big rivers and the home of Paul's fat brother (....), the Happy Buddha. We got out, had lunch and then went to pay a visit to the Grand Buddha. This statue is about 71 meters high, the shoulders are 28 m wide, and his big toe is 8 m. A monk started this project more than 1200 years ago, it was carved out of the rock at the crossing of 3 rivers, hoping that this Buddha would calm down the rivers and save the lives of many fishermen. The statue was finished 90 years after his death, and actually ... it helped, the rivers are calm! A pretty impressive statue. On top, there was also a monestary to visit. And again -  it almost gets boring :-)) - many Chinese people took pictures of us. To have a good look at the whole statue and 2 guardians next to it (you cannot see them from the shore), it was best to take a boatride on the river, which we did. Also very impressive.

After we got back to our little restaurant where our driver waited for us, and Paul showed them a card trick, we drove back to go to the the airport. However, our driver had problems finding it. Luckily, with help from people around the streets, and a “ghost ride” (on the wrong side of a big road that nobody used) we finlly got there, checked in and the plane was on time.

The flight was short, a little more than 1 hour. During the flight Paul made friends with his neighbour and this new friend was convinced that we would meet again the next day in Lijiang. We arrived just after midnight. Our schedule said that there would be a transfer, but there wasn't anybody. Hilke send out a few text messages, but it seemed that nobody was coming to pick us up. There was a bus going to the old center of Lijang, so we took that one. He droped us of at the entrance of the old town (Dayan Lijiang). What we didn't expected was this criss-cross of old small streets, almost abandonded, after all it was already after 1.00 am. Luckily still some small shops and hotels were open and finally we found a shop where the yong man was so friendly to call the hotel to find out the location, and then he walked with us to find it. It was almost 2.00 am when we had our room. We had a beer … and then a long sleep. It was a good thing that the restaurant was open for breakfast until 10.30 am.

Tomorrow we will explore Lijiang, China's "Volendam" (a very touristy town in The Netherlands).

Enjoy our photos