I’m Jennifer Sato, a 3rd year business major and Chinese language and dance minor. This summer, I’m studying abroad in China through the UF in Chengdu Program. I’m taking languages classes at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, and I am loving everything about China! I am four weeks into my study abroad program, and I have been blogging the entire experience at jennifersato.wordpress.com. Check it out to see what I’ve been up to for the past month, and keep up with me as I round out the last two weeks of my program.
This weekend was definitely one of my favorites so far. It was a busy weekend with lots of hiking, but it was totally worth it to see all of the cool sites. Our study abroad program planned an excursion to Leshan and Mount Emei, a popular tourist destination in Sichuan, about two and a half hours from Chengdu. It was SO nice to have the entire trip planned for us – no one had to worry about finding places to stay or eat, and all of the costs were already absorbed into our program fees.
We left the university at 7:30 on Saturday morning for the ride to Leshan. I slept the entire time, and when I woke up, we were at the Jing Long Jewelry Store. I was expecting the store to be more of a factory tour, where they show you how the make the jewelry, but it was actually just a huge showroom with overpriced items. I wasn;t too impressed, and we left after 30 minutes in the store.
Our next stop was Leshan’s main attraction, the Giant Buddha. The Buddha was built in 713 is 233 feet tall, and it is carved into the side of a cliff that overlooks a point where the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers meet. To get to the Buddha, we had to climb up a mountain and wait in a Disney-esque line in order to climb the stairs down to the base of the Buddha. We waited for quite a while in line, and while we did, my friends were the stars of every tourist’s pictures (so many perks to looking Asian in China). When we finally got to the stairs, everyone around us started pushing to get down as fast as possible. Zhang laoshi and her husband (a.k.a. the cutest couple EVER) held back the crowds of people to make sure the UF group stayed together; they even told off a couple of people in Chinese when they tried to walk in front of us. Once we made it to the bottom, we had our photo opportunity, and then it was back up the stairs to the top of the Buddha and our tour bus.
It was a very sunny day, so we were able to take a quick boat tour down the river which took us right in front of the Buddha for more pictures. We left the Buddha and headed to our next stop, a tea house and store (which name I cannot remember). We walked in for tea samples and then watched a tea ceremony presentation. We were then ushered into the store where we were encouraged to buy more souvenirs….hooray for tourist attractions! By this point everyone was super tired, so we were very excited when we found out that our next stop was the hotel.
We got to our hotel at the base of Mount Emei, and I think all of the students did a little celebratory dance when we saw the rooms – not only were they clean, but they had modern conveniences and a clean bathroom! They definitely met American standards. I think Zhang laoshi was a little bit concerned when she heard the stories of our previous weekend adventures, and she told us that she called the travel agency to ensure that we had a nice hotel. We ate a delicious dinner at the hotel, and then walked over to see a Chinese performance of acrobatics, opera, and the famous Sichuan mask changing. I didn’t want the show to end! We had VIP seats, so we were really close to the stage, and we could see everything. We returned to the hotel, and after an awkward shower (who puts a window that looks directly from the bedroom into the bathroom without any window coverings?) I fell asleep instantly.
(Not my video, but this is the Sichuan Mask Changing! So cool)
We woke up at 5:30 this morning to head to Mount Emei. We had to take one bus to the base of the mountain, and then another bus an hour and a half up the mountain to reach the cable car. The second bus ride was on very crazy roads with sharp turns, but even with a crazy bus driver, we made it up in one piece! We had to climb stairs for about 20 minutes to reach the cable car, where we packed in like sardines along with all of the other Chinese tourists. We got to the top of the mountain, where there is a huge Buddhist statue, as well as the first Buddhist temple. All that you can see when you look out over the side of Mount Emei is the tops of clouds…it is a really cool experience, and I know that my pictures don’t do it justice. After some time to look around all of the attractions at the peak, we headed back down to the cable car. We caught the bus by the cable car station and drove about halfway down the mountain for lunch, and then we took a different cable car to another part of the mountain. We hiked down the mountain and stopped for tea at our tour guide’s house and finally made our way back to the bus that would bring us back to Chengdu.
After a very long weekend, we’re finally back in Chengdu, and I’m about to hit the sack. Luckily, since we got back so late, Zhang laoshi asked our teacher to move our 15 minute presentations about our weekend until Tuesday, and tomorrow morning’s class is starting an hour later than usual so we can get some more sleep!