Tag Archives: Temple

Huangshan – Nine Dragon Waterfall

ninedragonUpon rising with the ever-honking buses and loud speaking maids outside our door, at 6am we were up and ready to blow the joint. Passing up the breakfast from yesterday, we decided to head out for Hangzhou and Mike added a scenic route on the roadway that found us at the Nine Dragon Waterfall trailhead. At the entry was a sign saying this was one of the seven most famous waterfalls in all of China. How could be pass up viewing that? All was good until we realized there was the dreaded  S T A I R S … again. Oh, the kids were ready to hang it up. But I so wanted to see it so I convinced them to push on. I told them, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and this fat lady is not singing!” It made them laugh and figure if Mom can make, they can.

We took the trail as far as it was open, which allowed us to see a good portion of the waterfall. All 984 feet of it. Very impressive. The water was clear and the air was fresh. What I loved was the ancient Buddhist Temple at the base of the big climb. Its days are numbered because on the other side of the river, they are erecting an astounding, jaw dropping new temple. Not even done, and it gave me goose bumps. By the looks of it, it will be completed this year. Oh, found another cute butt picture… This was of a little one not even old enough to walk on its own.

After leaving here we continued to Hangzhou and West Lake, our hotel was very nice, but the amount of people and the dreary weather left us going… what?! The sky was gray to the ground and never have seen so many people in my life. More than we saw in Beijing. It was unreal. So the next morning, we walked out to the lake and fought our way back to the van headed home to Suzhou. Obviously, Labor Day weekend was not a good time to visit West Lake. From what we heard, it never is. Hope you enjoy the photos…


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Wuxi – Lingshan Buddhist Scenic Area

lingshandafoAs most of you know, Mike received his license last year and has been driving around town for months now. All the driving has developed a large amount of courage in his ability to drive beyond Suzhou. Already having drove to a nearby city of Changshu, Mike was ready to travel farther.

I had found an article in an Expat magazine about a Buddhist-styled theme park north in Wuxi. Since it touts as having one of the tallest Sakyamunis in the world, we just had to go. Located in the Maji Mountain area, the park was nicely thoughtout with the tallest mountain behind the Grand Buddha, hills on the side with the view of Lake Tai (where the gardens in Suzhou attained their rocks-you have seen them in past garden posts). The Buddha was erected near the 1000 year old temple of Xiangfu, where many come during the Spring Festival to hear its bell rings for luck in the following year. The Buddha (Da Fo) is made of tin and copper and weighs over 700 tons. Standing over 100 feet taller than our own Statue of Liberty, this Buddha leaves an impression. On its left hand is the symbol called “Shi Wu Wei” with its intent to reduce suffering in the world, the right hand has the “Yu Yuan” symbol for happiness and the chest has the ancient symbol of solemnity and virtue.

Interestingly, this place was built by Japanese investors in 1997. In the recent years, the overdone, elaborate palace was built. We were in shock as we cruised through it. It was way beyond anything enlightened, i.e. humble, mild and meek. It was over-the-top; beautiful & tacky. We spent most of the day here. Mike only took one wrong turn, that paid off for us… we found all the strawberry farmers. They were super sweet and juicy. We ate one large bowl on the way there and purchased three more on the way home. Yummy!


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Guangxi Province – Li River

guangxi_li-riverThe weather here in Guangxi Province has been spectacular: Warm and in the 70s to low 80s the entire time. Even if there was rain, no umbrella was necessary because the rain was so warm and evaporated rapidly from our skin. We great underestimated how nice the weather was going to be and pack too heavy of clothes for most days. A late-afternoon shower was mandatory after our adventures due to all the massive amount of sweat we accumulated. I loved the heat and did not complain a bit. I just did not like the large moisture droplets constantly running down my back. But at least our long sleeves helped protect our bodies from having too much sun. Even though, our faces got a bit too much.

Today was a day I have dreamed about since we first decided to travel to China and we had watched all the documentaries we could on China: Floating down the Li River. There were a few trips offered: One was to take a boat to the town of Fuli, we shop for as long as we wanted and take the bus back to Yangshuo. The other was to have the boat take us to Fuli, stop for an half an hour and return via the same boat to Yangshuo. The last trip was to rent bicycles, have them put on the raft, stop at Fuli for an half an hour, continue down river to a village call LiuGong and then bicycle back to Fonglou. Of course, we chose the longest and most adventurous route possible. So Luna arranged to have our rented bicycles driven via a Tuk Tuk, three wheeled motorcycle, to the Li River in Yangshuo and a taxi driver took us. The boat was a big, blue plastic raft with a weed-whacker as an engine. It was such a blast!

Nathan, Zachary and I sat in the front with the bikes and Briana and Mike sat right behind us. It took about 45 minutes to get to the town of Fuli. Fuli is an ancient town known for it painted fans. As you can see in the photos below, I found a keeper. The lady who sold it to me said it was painted by her 80 year old grandfather. I also purchased a painting of the Li River, which was done by her father. Both are amazing pieces. I was so thrilled with them. (My living room is going to become a China art display by the time I get home between art I have purchased and my photos.)

A half an hour went by fast. Our boat driver found us and we returned to the boat and continued down the river for over an hour to the village of LiuGong. (The only challenge on the boat was making sure none of the water got in your mouth. Unfortunately, Nathan and Briana got a mouthful each and on the bike ride paid for it. Thankfully, we did carry lots of toilet paper and Pepto Bismol tablets. They were miserable.)

We did not expect to find much in LiuGong, so we weren’t shocked when we got there. Our driver did say the so-called restaurant at the dock was good, so we had a bite to eat before we headed out on the bikes. Lunch was good. But the conditions were deplorable. The water buffalo at the docking area was the one that charged Mike. He tried to touch it and it charged him. Thank goodness Mike is quick. Beside Nathan and Briana’s queasy tummies, the bike ride was so worth it! They even had a great time, despite it all. The countryside was jaw-droppingly beautiful and the people we passed along the way were so friendly…

Here are photos of the day


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Beijing – Confucius Temple

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Confucius

We had a few hours before we needed to catch the train back to Suzhou, so we headed out through the hutongs and found the Confucius Temple that had just recently been opened to non-Chinese persons. Confucius’s theories have influenced and affected the course of Chinese thinking for over two thousand years. Though some say he never truly lived, Confucius was said to be born in 551BC and experienced poverty in the early part of his life, only managing to become a junior official through hard study. Disheartened with the chaos and disorder of the Zhou dynasty declining into the Warring States Period, Confucius created a system that would restore order. His philosophy was if the correct hierarchy was in place and individuals treated and respected one another according to this structure, then life would be harmonious. One of his sayings I like is ‘in a group of three, one can always find a teacher.’

This Confucius Temple is the largest outside of Qufu, the philosopher’s birthplace in the Shandong provice. First built in 1302 during the Mongol Yuan dynasty, the temple was expanded in 1906 in the reign of Emperor Guangxu. Today, around 200 ancient stelae stand in the silent courtyard in front of the main hall inscribed with the names of those who successfully passed the imperial civil service exams. Additional stelae are propped up on the backs of mythical animals called bixi (half tortoise and half dragon).


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Beijing – Lama Temple and Temple of Heaven

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The Lama Temple

Unfortunately, this day was not an ideal day for us. Zachary became really sick through the night and could not sight see on this day. So Mike decided to stay with him, as he talked me into taking Briana and Nathan out for the day. I only went because I really wanted to see the Tibetan Lama Temple and Nathan wanted to see the Temple of Heaven. It was a lot but we did manage to see both. By far, the Lama Temple is my most favorite temple of all I have seen in China. Loved it there.

The Lama Temple, known as Yonghegong, is the most frequented religious place in all of China. It is comprised of five main halls and many galleries and is dedicated to the Yellow Sect of Buddhism. The temple was originally built in 1694 as Prince Yong’s palace. Once he become emperor, he renounced his residence. It was later converted to a lama temple in 1744 under Emperor Qianlong. It’s a very active temple with believers lighting armloads of incenses at each hall. At times, we had to make sure our coats and Briana’s long hair did not catch on fire because of all the incense lit. In the main temple, is the biggest Buddha carved from a single tree. It’s three stories tall and nine feet in diameter.

After a nice visit at the Lama Temple, we quickly found a bus and took it to the Temple of Heaven, which is located southeast of Tianenman Square. It’s architecture is seen as the pinnacle of the Ming dynasty. The temple was constructed in 1420 under Emperor Yongle. Heaven was thought to be round and the earth square. As the Son of Heaven, the emperor was the primary medium between heaven and earth. Three days before the winter solstice, the emperor would abstain from meat, “stimulating foods’ and spices. On the third day, he would travel from the Forbidden City to the Temple of Heaven’s Fasting Palace. During the procession, all commoners retreated indoors to avoid laying eyes on the emperor–a crime which carried a death penalty. The following day, the emperor would move to the Imperial Vault of Heaven to mediate before continuing to the grand domed Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and then emerge to ritually sacrifice animals at the Round Altar and pray for a good harvest in the coming year. The temple was not open to public until the first Chinese National Day in October 1912.

Most say this is the best garden of all China. The architecture is definitely impressive, but the grounds left little to be desired. With the overrun of people, most of the ground was just dirt and the massive amount of concrete didn’t make it feel like a garden. Add all the people in the mix and Briana, Nathan and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.


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