Leshan (乐山; Lèshān) is a city which has a history of more than 3,000 years and is located in the center of Sichuan Province (四川省), South East of Chengdu City (成都市), which is the capital city of Sichuan.
Leshan Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing
Leshan Grand Buddha (乐山大佛 lèshāndàfó) - One of the main attraction to see is the Leshan Grand Buddha. The Grand Buddha is a 71 meter (230 feet) high sculpture carved into one of the large cliffs by the river. In addition to the Grand Buddha, there are also numerous smaller carvings of various Buddha on the Grand Buddha Cliff Road. Other than carvings, there are also various temples and shrines scattered about, the beautiful Haoshang Bridge, and some wonderful small waterfalls.
Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
Local fare falls into the Sichuan cuisine family, Leshan is noted for its food culture in that it has all the street food from its surrounding areas, which has made it the one-stop street food city. Typical specialties include:
• Ma-La-Tang 麻辣烫 - Hot and Spicy Soup
• Bo-Bo-Ji 钵钵鸡 - Bobo Chicken
• Shao-Kao 烧烤 - Street Barbecue
• Qian-Wei Bao-Bing 犍为薄饼 - Qianwei Pancakes
Leshan is rich with a vibrant night life that includes many local clubs, bars and discos. However, there is only one bar which interests the expat community in Leshan. Feng Chao Bar in English means ‘Style Next’ and it is one of the most popular hang-outs for Leshan's expat community.
When you enter the bar you will find yourself immersed in a mix of Oriental, Chinese, and Western themed style of decoration. This bar stands out from all the other local bars in the city and you will definitely recognize the difference when you enter the bar and are entertained by the Western music playing inside, which includes jazz, dance and pop English music.
Also there are not many English speakers in the city, as Leshan is considered a small city in China compare to other big cities in the country, but in this bar you will be surprised when you talk to the owner because he speaks English exceptionally well. The owner is a guy with long hair and cool looks, who plays guitar very well and is a good singer. Each night he performs live music in his bar and serves his customers by himself, in most bars in town you will never find the boss dually working as boss and waiter all at the same time! I spoke with him and he said the following.
Interview with Li, the Feng Chao Bar owner:
What is your name and how old are you?
“My name is LI YI Bing and I’m 46 years old.”
When did you open the Bar?
Are you from Leshan?
“No, I came from Shandong, the third most populous province of China, my father is a doctor in the army, and after he joined the army we had to move to Sichuan province in 1971.”
How come you speak good English? Where did you learn the language?
“In Middle school, my teacher was a very good Chinese English teacher.”
I hard you singing and playing guitar, that was amazing, where did you learned it?
“I love music since I was kid, and I start learning since I was 8 years old, my mother is a great Chinese musician, she plays the Guqin (simplified/traditional: 古琴; pinyin: gǔqín; Wades-Giles ku-ch'in; pronounced [kùtɕʰǐn] literally "ancient stringed instrument") is the modern name for a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family.”
“My mother played a big part in my life for teaching me the music. I performed live music in my bar every night, a mix of Chinese and Western music.”
Do you have foreigners customers comes to the bar?
“Leshan is a small city, so not many foreigners live here, it’s not like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu or the other big cities in the country, there some, but not many, most of the foreigners are English teachers in the high schools and the university of Leshan, a lot of them are from U.S.A. and they come to bar to enjoy the music and the drinks and also ‘cause the bar is different from the others bars and clubs in the city. Also many Chinese students from the University come to my bar to practice their English with the teachers.”
When do you usually start the work?
“I open the bar at 6 P.M. and stay open till my last customer leaves the place, sometimes they leave early because they work the next day, but usually on the weekends, people stay till early morning.”
It was 8 P.M. and while I was talking to Li customers started arriving so Li excused me to go and welcome them and do his job. Next to me there was a white guy sitting and having his beer and I went to interview him.
Interview with the Feng Chao Bar Customer, Mr. Jerry Cardy.
Good evening, can you tell me your name and where are you from?
“My name is Jerry Cardy and I’m from U.K and S.A.”
What are you doing in Leshan?
“I’m in Leshan since 8 months ago, I teach English in Yi Zhong High school.”
How did you find China and Leshan city?
“China is a great country, rich with history and culture, especially in Leshan, people are very nice and very friendly, and lot’s to see in the country, in general Chinese are very friendly people and they like foreigners, I feel like home.”
Why you come to Li’s bar (foreigners call the Bar: Li’s bar)?
“It’s a very nice bar and it’s the same like other bar back home, also I can listen to good English music and find people speaks good English to talk with, same time I enjoy the good services and hospitality from the owner.”
Interview with the Feng Chao Bar customer’s Mr. Andrew Buckwalter and his wife Molly who are a young married white couple from the U.S.A, he is 25 and she is 26 years old.
What are you doing in Leshan? And how do you find life here?
“Andrew: We came to Leshan about 10 months ago, we are both English teachers at Leshan Normal University, and we work for the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), in the U.S.A.”
“Molly: It’s never easy to live far from home, but we are having a good time in here, Chinese are very friendly and the town is nice, it’s relaxed life.”
Why you come to this bar?
“Andrew: the owner is very cool and he speaks English well and the place is different from other Chinese clubs in town, Molly said: we are really enjoying the place.”
On the corner outside the Feng Chao Bar, I noticed a white male with a Chinese lady speaking English very well so I went to interview them as well. His name is Tomas and her name is Su.
Where you from and what are you name?
“My name is Tomas Solheim, 35 years old from Alta in the North of Norway.”
“Su Zhen Yin, 28 years old from Leshan we are married for around five years, and we got a son called Tom and he is almost four years old.”
What are you doing in Leshan and why you come to this bar?
“Su: We own and run an English school in Leshan called Tom's International English School (called up after our son). We met each other in Jinghong, Xishuangbanna Region which is in the South of Yunnan Province.”
“Tomas: We sometimes visit Lee's Bar just to meet friends and to relax. It's not many westerns style bars in Leshan. *Soon we will open our own bar.”
I asked Su, “how come you speak good English?
“I went to Thailand to study in there, and also my English more improved after I have met my husband.”
Also Li’s bar has a pool table, one white guy was playing pool with a Chinese, so I went to interview him too.
What is your name and where are you from?
“My name is John Langdon and I’m 28 years old and I’m from U.S.A. I’m English teacher in University of Leshan, I came here first time with Peace Corps and I stayed 2 years teaching English then I left back home, then I came back 3 years ago by myself.”
How did you find leshan city so far? And why you come here?
“I think all foreigners agree on one point: Chinese are really very friendly, kind people, and I’m really enjoying my time in here, for Li’s bar, its different from other bars in town, in fact I feel like home in here, good music and good service, Western style.”
At this moment Li starts his daily music show and every one in the bar was enjoying his or her time, including me, and if you ever come to Leshan city, don’t forget to pass by Li's Feng Chao Bar and partake in the fun atmosphere, excellent fare and superb Chinese hospitality.
Whether you are visiting or living in Leshan it’s a magical place filled with old and new and where locals and non-locals can find a place to sight see, relax, eat, converse and enjoy themselves and feel right at home even when far away from home.