Travelling to China, for me was a lifelong dream.

From the moment I arrived in Shanghai I was not disappointed. Driving through Shanghai I had my mouth wide open as I looked in amazement at the array of sparkly lights.

For a moment I thought I had touched down in Las Vegas instead of China!!

Shanghai is China’s main financial centre. The city is a good mix of old beautiful buildings & modern day high rises.
This is a bustling cosmopolitan city & a shopping haven for many. The mix of the modern day Bund area with the old town with its cobblestone streets & relaxing tranquil gardens make this city a must see.

Sichuan Province (Home of Spicy food) Chengdu is the capitol of this province & the gateway to the most beautiful natural scenery. From here you can see the Grand Buddha of Leshan, the Giant Panda Research Centre & the nine Villages Valley.

The Pandas were what I was looking forward to the most & once again I was not disappointed. I was lucky enough to see the 14 new baby pandas.  They were so cute! You can (for a huge fee) get a photo with a baby Panda .

Chengdu city is a smaller version of Shanghai. Bustling with lots of life! The people in this city do not see too many westerners & I felt like a celebrity with the amount of photos I had to pose in with these extremely lovely locals.

However for me it was travelling into the countryside that I found to be the most spectacular. The little town of Leshan – home of the Grand Buddha – “breathtaking” is the word that comes to mind upon seeing this huge carving. This is the tallest (71 Metres) Buddha statue in the world sitting on the mountainside.

Local history tells us that the river here was once treacherous, with a whirlpool that overturned so many boats and drowned so many fishermen that they suspected a demon lurked under the water where the rivers met! The locals carved an enormous statue of Buddha at this point of the river so they could pray to him to placate the whirlpool below.

Whether it was due to Buddha’s pleasure or the fact that the locals threw tonnes of rock into the riverbed as they carved away at the mountain, the river is now calm, allowing you to take a ferry ride to view this remarkable site.
The pure size of this is amazing, 86 people fit across its foot. You are able to climb to the top of Buddha but the queues are way too long and it will take about 2 hours to get to the stairs to climb it. You do get a fantastic view from the ferry so there is no need to climb the Buddha.

Melissa’s tip:
Make sure you drink plenty of bottled water to avoid dehydration & take tissues along to use as toilet paper as it is not always available. Chinese people are delighted if you make any attempt to speak Mandarin, even if it’s only a couple of words. The best way to introduce yourself is with a warm, broad smile

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