Wandering Secrets

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he came to see.”

大佛寺, the biggest Buddha in Shaanxi

How did we end up there? I don’t really know. But this giant Buddha is sure worth it, as is the town near it. At only a 100km away from Xi’An, 大佛寺, Shaanxi’s biggest Buddha, is right on the road of silk. You would think it is a touristic and famous site but that would be overestimating the Chinese curiosity for their own cultural wealth.

That is still something I don’t fully understand. People here in Xi’AN, and here in China, only know what the leaders have decided to make accessible and famous. Meaning that Guilin for example was made some kind of reputation so everyone goes on holiday there, not wondering if the place is nice, not even wondering where it is. True story, people just get on the plane, and take off. They have no idea whether they are going North or South and they don’t care. They don’t even think about it.

You can find the explanation you want, but the answer is just that it is as it is and nothing else. China and its million wonders…

大佛寺, our trip and tips:

Saturday: my classes on the following day are cancelled, which means that for the first time in 6 months I’m going to enjoy two days off!

Saturday noon: rushed home to grab our beloved backpacks and hit the road towards… well, we’ll figure it out on the bus. We’d heard of this big buddha that was in some temple outside the city and we decided we would go see it and then go hiking the mountain near it. But first…

Step 1: Finding the right bus

Sounds logical but when the language is a constant problem, going to the biggest coach station of the city  and finding the right bus can be… tricky, I would say. And, we’re in China. People here don’t yet value their historical sites, and much less the temples. There are no websites, no brochures on most of the pagodas and temples we’ve visited, probably because for a Chinese a temple is not worth seeing it. The same happened at the station. No one had a slight idea of where was the “Da fo si” we wanted to see and it took us too much time to understand their questions, they didn’t like us slowing down the queue. But nothing stops the incredible travelers, especially when motivated by two whole days off. Fearless questioners, we eventually found a nice lady who gave us the name of the closest city and off we went.

Hence tip number 1: go to Xi’An West coach station (the bus 210 will take you) and ask for a ticket to BinXian (should be around 40 yuan)

Step 2: BinXian

The journey cost and lasted more than expected but finally we were out of polluted-noisy-ugly Xi’An and not for nothing. What a beautiful and peaceful town we had there! Blue sky, shining sun, clean air, smiling people… everything was perfect. Bin Xian is a very small city that has nothing to envy to a European countryside village. As pretty much everywhere in the country, there’s not much to do but sit and talk with your neighbours, share a cigarette or a drink and enjoy the small green mounts rising  at 500meters from you. I don’t know why I loved this place so much, probably because it was everything Xi’An was not: nice curious smiling people, respectful drivers, houses and small buildings, green spaces everywhere. It really is a nice stop if you come from a big city. At the hotel, the staff was more than helpful; they put in their names because we didn’t have our passports, they lowered the caution when we didn’t have enough, and they showed us where the bus stop was. No exasperation, no yelling and patience: welcome to BinXian

Tip number 2: The coach will leave you in the central area of the town, where you’ll find many acceptable hotels. Do take time to visit the beautiful pagoda and the peaceful park.

 

binxian

 

 

 

pagoda

Step 3: 大佛寺

Still excited by the happiness this trip brought us, we got up at 7 and went to the temple. People usually wake up quite early- with the sun- so the streets were starting to get lively, but not too much. Still sleepy, we waited for the bus that would take us to the beautiful temple on the mountain. The people’s smiles and questions made me forget about the coal mines still in activity around the area, digging right into the mountain and  “eating” it. We got to the temple and were the first ones to enjoy the view on a cool sunny morning, without street noise and angry people. Peace.

Tip 3: Take the bus number 3 and get out at “Da fo si” (you will see the signs on the road, or ask the ticket lady to stop the bus for you). The entry is 35 yuan per person, but they are totally worth it. It took us 2hours to see everything but I would say that 1.30 hour is plenty of time. Make sure you got up the chain on the West side of the main temple!

 

templeview

The main temple contains a 20m tall Buddha, his fingers are 2m long…

parktemple

 

 

steps

 

hand

 

 

lady

 

lady2

 

After your visit you can take a nice walk on the mounts around the temple, and enjoy a picnic… mountview

 

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2 Comments

  1. Antoine August 25, 2013

    Knowing how the food is good when we are starving, I guess this trip was wonderful after so much work. Have you thought about translating this blog in Chinese for those who would like to visit their own country ? 🙂

    • admin August 25, 2013 — Post Author

      Love your metaphor 🙂 and indeed it is one of the best trips so far, relaxing and peaceful. I actually haven’t thought of writing the articles in Chinese but I think the government wouldn’t approve of my posts, too cynical for the great China 😉

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