Leshan deception

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Leshan deception

Postby long_way » Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:01 pm

Jul 1, 2012 8:39 PM
Posts: 311

Leshan deception

Went to Leshan recently and got taken in by a slick trick. Thought I would warn others who might be going in the near future.

I was traveling solo by intercity bus from Emeishan. Boarded at Baoguosi Station 报国寺旅游汽车站 and got off at the end of the run, Xiaoba Station 肖坝站 on the outskirts of Leshan. The bus was met by the usual touts, but I had read to just take the #13 city bus to avoid having to deal with them.

I found the #13 city bus nearby, but on the way towards it a young woman asked (in Chinese) "Are you folks going to the Big Buddha?" I and a dozen or so Chinese tourists all said yes and followed her onto the #13 city bus. Remember thinking at the time that it was unusual to have someone guide you onto an ordinary city bus. I confirmed with the driver that the fare was only 1 Yuan, and felt somewhat reassured to find that it was.

We wound through town, making the usual city bus stops, but it was clear that most of us were tourists heading to see the Big Buddha. Few people got on or off. After 20 minutes or so, two young women stood up at the front and one began telling us facts about the Big Buddha while the other one passed out free Buddha pendants on a red string.

Recognizing this as another definite warning sign that things were not quite kosher, I got up and looked at the route map posted near the exit door. Located a stop labeled 大佛战 (Big Buddha Station) and started counting down to it, so I would not be fooled.

But the bus didn't stop there. I guess the driver was in cahoots with the scammers. It continued beyond that stop to an unmarked point and let us out near a cluster of souvenir stands and small restaurants. Hawkers swarmed as we got out, trying to get us to come shop or eat. I broke away and walked out front in search of a ride back to the entrance.

Several "helpful locals" approached and volunteered that the entrance was only a little bit farther down the road, an easy walk. As I got near, other "helpful locals" were saying things like "Big Buddha right this way; Big Buddha step right up and buy your ticket here." This isn't customary at major tourist sites. Major tourist sites don't need hawkers.

Turned out this was the entrance to the "Oriental Buddhist Theme Park" 东方佛院, built in 1994. One could actually reach the Big Buddha from here, but it would involve a two and a half hour hike to get to the back of it, from which point you needed another couple hours to climb down the cliff along Buddha's head to his feet and up again on the other side. So round trip from here would take seven hours on foot and would include some secondary destinations that might not be of interest.

I eventually caught a bus back towards town and found the proper entrance, much closer to the Big Buddha. The boat dock was also walking distance from there, providing another option. But all in all this was a pretty slick game, and it would not be difficult to get fooled by it if you are just following the flow of the crowd.

Source: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/t ... ID=2220261
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:56 am

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