Before you write us off as cultural heathen, I’ll explain. It wasn’t Buddha that was the problem, it was the fact we decided to trek 10km, on foot, in shorts and Vans trainers, to get there.
Quite often, Andy and I will have an idea about a place, that flies in the face of conventional sense or transportation setup. In California, it was the idea that we could ride heavy steel beach cruisers up and down canyons to get to class. On this occasion it was ignoring the fact that everyone else was going by scooter or taxi, and embracing an “invigorating amble” in the countryside.
Around 2km in, I decided that what would really help a 10km trek in crazy arse heat would be a face like thunder and a mild case of “woe is me-itis”. In case you have any doubt (unlikely) it didn’t make things easier.
The Big Buddha is indeed very, very large, 45 metres/147 feet tall. Sadly at the moment, he’s wearing a bit of scaffolding (they’re developing the site into a large-scale tourist attraction and spiritual hub) but it was still impressive.
There was also a little golden Buddha (12 metres/40 feet) and plenty of monk effigies where you could think nice thoughts and zen out a bit.
Perhaps it’s because of the large numbers of tourists marauding around (some of whom were upsettingly sitting on the laps of statues) or the fact that I’m not a practising Buddhist, but I didn’t get the hit of karmic calm I was expecting. It was however a good time to reflect on our travels and family and friends back home, and buy a bit of marble in their honor to be included in the renovations.
Then it was time to laugh at some monkeys (one of whom was drinking pop that had been left out for the gods) and sample some coconut ice cream.