Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rock x 2

Today I took a day trip to see the Leshan Giant Buddha, 2hrs south of Chengdu. A staggering 233ft high, it was carved out of a cliff face overlooking the confluence of three rivers between 713 and 803AD, to appease their turbulent currents. Funnily enough, it worked: the amount of rock waste dumped into the river had the desired result. So I joined the queues and made my way down precipitous steps cut into the cliff face. The best views, however, are from boats on the river. It was quite entertaining watching them jostling for best position.

But it was a relief to ditch the crowds and walk through lovely forests to Wuyou Temple, atop an island in the Dadu River. Its highlight is a hall of 1,000 terracotta arhat (celestial beings); very colourful, almost cartoon-like, and with no two alike.
I had thought to have a little wander in Leshan across the river - the Lonely Planet map makes it look like a village - but turns out to have a population of 500,000...
Back to Chengdu to see the oddly named Northern Irish band, And So I Watch You From Afar. They're one of four we've invited to China this summer & autumn, one from each home country. Gallops (Wales) toured last month but I missed them; Fence Collective (Scotland) will come out in October. And Jamie Woon (born & grew up in England although his father is Chinese Malaysian and his mother Scottish) tours in November. Each artist visits different parts of China: ASIWYFA are playing in Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming and Beijing. They play instrumental guitar-driven 'post rock': sort of halfway between effects-heavy shoe-gazing and out & out head-banging with tricky time signatures. Small venue, enthusiastic studenty crowd... and no aircon. "That was officially the hottest gig we've ever played".

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