View From Boat, Le Shan watercolor and Ink by Meera Rao
Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province was our next stop. Chengdu seemed like a laid back modern city with high rises and bustling ring roads. I fell in love with the old part of the city with its beautiful and grand traditional buildings, the ancient Wenshu Temple dedicated to Manjushree, and its distinctive streets. The pavement in each street in the old city had its own special carved markings. The Temple and its sprawling gardens once again were an oasis of calm and serenity. And of course, the restaurants by the temple served delicious vegetarian and vegan food!
Grand Buddha at Le Shan, watercolor and Ink by Meera Rao
Le Shan's Grand Buddha was an easy day trip from Chengdu. The serene 1200 year old 71meters (233') tall Budha is carved from a cliff overlooking the confluence of three rivers: Min, Dadu, and Quinyi. It is also an Unesco World Heritage site. We took a boat tour so we could see the entire statue. The view of the cliff, the Buddha statue and the many centuries old buildings enhanced the leisurely boat ride. I even had time to sketch as the boat slowly made its way to and from viewing the statue. :) Later we enjoyed walking along the park-like riverfront of the picturesque town of LeShan.
View from Boat, LeShan watercolor and Ink by Meera Rao
The next morning was devoted to observing the Pandas at the Giant Panda Breeding Research Center. The vast and beautiful park like research center is a popular tourist attraction and once again there were HUGE crowds! We saw many adult pandas resting or eating and about half a dozen juveniles climbing and playing. They were all spread out in the park and we got our day's exercise by walking a couple of miles or more :)
Panda watercolor and Ink by Meera Rao
In the old part of the city, we found many vendors selling fruits, noodles, and knickknacks in small stalls. Some had a few baskets of fruits and vegetables set on the steps. This particular stall selling mulberries, mangoes, dragonfruits and jackfruits was flanked by elegant stone carvings of an elephant on a circular wheel like base. A couple of books and a baby's sippy cup were resting on the elephant. I noticed that around dusk, in the old part of the city, many families pulled chairs around a folding table right by the street side next to their stalls and enjoyed their dinner and conversations.
Fruits for Sale on the Steps of an Old Building in Chengdu watercolor and Ink by Meera Rao