The heat wave finally broke. After almost three weeks of faily temperatures in the upper nineties, things have cooled down. It couldn’t have some soon enough. I was beginning to catch a serious case of cabin fever. When I wasn’t working all I’d be able to do is lay at home next to the fan and try to avoid drowning in sweat. But now that the weather has turned I’m able to get out again and enjoy myself.
I’d been wanting to see the Grand Buddha at Lingshan for a long time. Someone had mentioned it to me a while ago and I was seriously interested. The center of the Buddhist universe someone said. I’m pretty sure they were exaggerating just a little bit. But even so, with that kind of recommendation how could I skip going since it’s so close?
One morning I gathered my things and was planning to head out. I ran into one of my friends here so we sat and had coffee like we often do and just chatted for a few hours. By the time we had finished it was just about noon. No problems I thought, plenty of time left in the day.
Getting there: Take bus 88 from the Wuxi train station all the way to the very last stop. The ride is about an hour and half or so.
I was on the bus listening to my headphone and dozing off a couple of times since it was such a long ride. Eventually I began to think I had the wrong information and was on the wrong bus. Right about then I looked out the window and saw the Grand Buddha. At 88 meters tall it dominates the surrounding landscape. Eighty-eight because in Chinese eight and rich sound very similar so eight is a lucky number. Anyway that lifted my spirits knowing I was on the right path.
At the final stop I hopped off of the bus. By now I was the only person left. I found my way to the ticket booth, bought a ticket (210 RMB, kind of expensive) and began my visit.
I was surprised, there was so much more to the area than just the giant statue. In fact, Wuxi Lingshan Buddhist Wonderland is a sprawling complex made of Buddhist museum, temples, gardens, and other attractions. It was built only a few years ago to host the World Buddhist Conference. It was also built with tourists in mind so there are plenty of things that make it convenient like easy to find bathrooms and air conditioning to beat the heat in the buildings. The newness detracts from the sense of history and awe many famous religious sites have, but still 88 meters! That’s huge! It’s twice the size of the Statue of Liberty. The whole park is no different than any other religious construction built through history, it just happens to not be hundreds of years old yet.
When I purchases my entrance ticket I got a map and another small ticket with a bar code and time printed on it. Obviously it was a ticket to some special event in the park, but I didn’t know exactly what. Turns out I got pretty lucky here and happened to be inside the museum at the right time. The time that’s stamped on the small ticket is for a live show with dancers in masks inside the museum. If I had arrived fifteen minutes later I would have missed my one opportunity to see it.
Unfortunately not everything was so wonderful. I didn’t learn until after I had entered the park at around 3:00 that it closes at 6:00. Seriously, 6:00 in the afternoon. I assumed I’d have at least until dark to be there. If I had known it closed so early I would have skipped coffee or just not even gone that day. Because of that and the live show that was about forty-five minutes long I ended up not seeing about half the park. I’ll return with some friends at another time, but that was kind of a downer.
Cost: 210 RMB
Hours: 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM (5:00 PM winter)
Directions: Bus 88 from Wuxi train station to the very final stop.