This next leg of the trip might be my favorite part, mostly because I met French hippie Jesus.
I am a staunch believer in the notion that God is always with me when I travel, but sometimes it’s difficult to see it. Sometimes, however, God just likes to smack you in the face with obviousness, just to make sure you’re paying attention.
After seeing 人山人海 waiting for the Buddha, I simply quit. I was totally over Leshan. The Giant Buddha will likely forever remain unseen on my list of places to go, and I’ve made my peace with that.
I managed to squeeze my way onto a jam-packed public bus at the top of the mountain, but from there I had to find the bus stop in Leshan to get back to Chengdu. Very quickly I realized I’d run out of that attraction so quickly that I hadn’t even bothered to look at, like, a map of where I was headed, or what stop I needed to get off at. So I had a moment of moderate panic where I pondered what to do next.
Not ten minutes later, the bus stopped, the doors opened, and Jesus got on. This guy had the hair, the beard, and the sandals game going strong. He came and stood next to me for the next few stops. “So,” he finally said to me in a thick French accent, breath heavy with the stench of cigarettes, “do you know what bus stop you’re getting off at?”
“I have no idea,” I admitted.
“It’s four from the end to get back to Chengdu,” he said.
I got off the bus with him and used the bus stop’s super ratched bathroom, the most ratched I’ve seen in China yet except for the literal holes I used outside the Great Wall. These bathrooms were indoor, but were also just a pit in the ground with nothing but waist-high walls separating each pit and a short door that didn’t fully close. Basically you could still see the person next to you and across from you as you peed. Yeah, it was time to go back to the overpriced hotel, that was for sure.
After I bought my ticket, French hippie Jesus continued to help me out by showing me where to board the bus and getting in line with me. Some little children stopped to play with him and he gladly took a photograph. And when we finally arrived in Chengdu and the bus dumped us off at some random gas station that was absolutely not where I’d gotten on, he suggested I get a taxi back home. We each grabbed one and went our separate ways.
In short, I’ll remember this day as the one where at totally random stranger who was seriously rocking the Jesus look helped me to find my way home without me ever asking for it. Somehow, without me ever voicing my thoughts, he knew exactly what I needed, and guided me all the way home. Coincidence? I think not. But that’s up for you to decide.