china 10: buddha is a mountain and mountain is buddha; and kunming

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The colossal red-stoned statue of Buddha at Leshan

I am back in China from Tibet. Back in Chengdu and on my way to Leshan straight from the airport. It is raining, wet and misty. Leshan, presiding over the confluence of two rivers which sweep past the foot of Lingyun hill, is a huge statement of faith and site of the world’s largest carved stone Buddha. Sculpted from the rock face, the effigy is a staggering 71 meters in height and is even more impressive for having been made over 1,200 years ago during the Tang dynasty. The Buddha’s head is 15 meters high; his ears come in at a lengthy 7.5 meters, and his sizeable feet can hold an audience of 100 people, while he looks down with his three meter wide eyes. Continue reading

china 8: karst peaks and minority nationalities—li river and guilin

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For centuries, Chinese poets, painters and artistic people with a deep sense for the aesthetic have used Guilin as a yardstick for natural beauty. The throng of limestone peaks that rise abruptly from the plain—often shrouded in mist—is what makes Guilin’s scenery so special. Amidst the peaks winds the Li river, a tributary of the Pearl river, green and placid, dotted with bamboo rafts and straw-hatted men fishing with cormorants. The karst peaks are the result of sea-bed movements 100 million years ago which settled huge deposits of calcium carbonate, namely limestone, on the earth’s surface. Water and wind eroded these deposits into their current fantastic shapes. Continue reading