Sunday, April 11, 2010
Day 5, Hanzhou
I think I have my days all confused. We are in Hanzhou, and the Buddist temple grounds (map of area, above) was our second stop of the day. I think we're on Friday the 19th, but I'm really not sure. We went to the tea gardens in the morning, and the Buddest temple of (?) was our next stop. It was right down the road from the Tea Garden area, still in the mountains as you can see from some of the pictures I took on the grounds. Berenice opted to sit this one out because it was a long walk just to get into the temple grounds. We even went into a cave and crossed over a creek on stones!
Here's the entrance. Look at all the tourists! I suppose not all of them are tourists, as I had the impression that many of them were sincere worshipers. David, our guide, let us just wander on our own after a short introduction.
The area around the monastery is very well-decorated with carvings that are probably pretty old. I think I saw them in my book I was reading on the plane on the way over "The Arts of China." I'll have to double check that fact. They certainly LOOKED old!
The dark spot on the bottom of the photo above is the cave we walked through. There were even carvings inside the cave walls!
Carol and I in front of the Happy Buddha.
He is a happy Buddah. We should all smile thus. Some of us already have the belly part down pat. And here's Suzette's feet as we cross the creek after walking through the cave. I took this to show Berenice the rough terrain she missed out on.
The monks are not supposed to have their pictures taken, but if you are discreet, it's OK apparently. I was attempting to be discreet as they quickly walked past us just as we entered the gated area of the monastery.
And, yes, everything is still so clean! Street sweepers even in the monastery and they, again, are using brooms made of limbs.
This was one of the big buildings/temples, one of many. We had about 45 minutes to wander around, so I followed the stairs all the way to the top. One building had this buddah in it (below), but my camera focused on the lovely curtain and not the statue. There were signs (in English, no less) requesting quiet voices and no photos. So I tried to be obedient. I was actually outside the gate while snapping that one--thus the lousy focus.
Burning incense is a big part of the worship service for this sect of Buddism. There are many incense-burning pots around (called "dings", I believe--again, from that book I had been reading)
Here's a close-up of one below this paragraph. They are big. It was smokey and rather fragrant. The people buy tons of incense sticks to burn, they hold them in front and bow to the four directions. Incense burning is no longer allowed inside the temples any longer--fire hazard, you know. So all the incense is outside now. Our guide took us inside the first one before turning us loose and demonstrated the proper way of worship. There are cushions placed before the (fence and ) Buddha. You kneel there and bow three times and the bow is a three-step bow. It begins with hands clasped at forehead, then heart, then the arms outstretch with palms up on the cushion while your forehead is down on the cushion. I was intrigued by those three parts to praying to God, and having palms facing up. I believe he said that indicated our humility to God--we come to earth with nothing, we leave with nothing. Empty palms. There were boxes to leave offerings, or money to support the monks, too. There were many cushions behind the fence from the public, but up next to the statue, but those were for the monks to use during their worship.
Lots of people, lots of incense, lots of smoke. I kept heading up the stairs with my camera, but every place I went had sincere worshipers there, bowing or leaving offerings. So I respected them and moved on. Up and up the hill. Most of these pictures were taken in the lower courtyard areas. I recall having similar feelings of reverence and respect when walking through St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It really was a nice, spiritual place.
Surrounding the temples were housing areas for the monks. I saw their laundry out drying. Along the sides of the stairs and in the trees were picnic areas where families were having a little lunch together (no pictures of that).
Here's me and Mary Ann before one of the temples (below). The map of the place doesn't really indicate how I felt it was laid out. It seemed more linear to me and, it also seemed like we walked through one temple area, looked at the statues (there were many!), then out the back, up some stairs where there was another building similar to the previous one. I got separated, so I just kept walking up the stairs to see what I would find.
I have no pictures, but as I kept walking up more and more stairs up BEHIND the buildings to the next level, I found more. One building had ancient Buddhist texts and it was like a museum. I didn't spend much time there. The very top building/temple, however, rather surprised me.
That top-most temple contained statues, similar to the one below. But there was not one, or even two, but THREE large white gods. Three. Hmmm. Doesn't that sound a little familiar? Three. And they were HUGE! And they were WHITE. No where where I've seen Buddha statues have I ever seen one that was white. They've always been gold-looking. I was quite pensive on the walk down to meet the rest of my group. No-one else had walked up that far and I was sure glad I took the time to make that interesting discovery.
Hilly country surrounding this temple. I wish I had a brochure or something from it, but I don't and I can't remember the name of the place. It was preserved during war times, however, and for that the local populace was very grateful. The picture below was taken near the top, looking back from where I had been. That roof line is probably the museum building.
The walkway to get to and from the monastery gates has restful pagodas or shady spots to rest. There is a creek, too. The monastery is surrounded by a large yellow wall.
A bike load of baskets.
We had lunch after this excursion. Note the tiny plates they always fed us off of. It didn't prevent us from getting plenty to eat!
It's so funny when we try to figure out how to use chop sticks. Mary Ann, Suzette, Linda C.
Oh, and Look! Here's Judy again. Same lunch stop.
After lunch, we went on a boat ride on a lake. The boats are lined up behind our tour guide, David. While we were waiting our turn, he demonstrated Tai Chi to us.
Pretty boats on the water. We were out puttering on the lake for about 40 minutes. Again, very popular tourist spot and there were dozens of boats just like ours out there, full of tourists. And lots of other boats, too, like the one below and canoes, too.
I'm not sure if the kites will show up if you click on the photo below, but people were out flying kites on this lovely afternoon. The lake is surrounded by parks. Hanzhou is larger than Souzhou I believe, so there are high-rises in the background. I believe this is a manufacturing area, but they call it "soft" manufacturing.
Me and Berenice on the boat ride on the West Lake. Most of our time was spent out on the back deck and it just got too hot so we came into the shade. I think she was close to having heat stroke here and I had no water with me this day!! Plus, they just run us ragged all day long. It's a fairly quick pace--go, go, GO!
After the boat ride, we left the Hanzhou area for a three hour bus drive to Shanghai, where we would spend the next two days of our trip. To be continued!