When Anders and I arrived in Guangzhou the weather prevented us from getting out and exploring. It was so HOT! Once the temperature was finally manageable we were too busy traveling to visit any local tourist venues. Andrew’s arrival changed that. It was finally time to be a tourist in the city that really isn’t on too many China tours.
I threw an Eyewitness Travel China book at Andrew and made him do all the work of deciding where to go. That’s why we have kids isn’t it? We make them do the work we don’t want to. As I mentioned before he is interested in world religions, particularly Buddhism. Two places he wanted to see while here were Buddhist temples. We tackled them on our first day out as tourists and the weather was perfect.
The first temple we visited was Liu Rong Si or the Six Banyan Temple dating from AD 537. Ben was particularly happy because we were able to park at the front door, VIP parking you know. 😉 Again, how he does it I don’t know. I bought my tickets, in Mandarin uh-huh, and in we went. The grounds were not huge, you could see everything from the entrance but it was so tranquil. The smell of burning incense was everywhere. There hasn’t been a temple or monastery yet that I’ve walked into that didn’t give me an immediate sense of calm and peace. I’m not a Buddhist but oh the tranquility is divine. We walked around, looked into the halls with the religious statues and remembrance halls. From the beginning I had planned on walking up the 17 flights of steps of the pagoda but it was closed. Ben bought incense and offered 3 sticks to both Andrew and myself. I lit them, said my prayer, placed them in a burner, and went on my way. Not sure what that means as a Christian but I think it demonstrates understanding and respect of other religions. Fingers crossed. 🙂
Next we went to Guangxiao Si. It is the oldest and largest monastery in Guangzhou. It was very busy with people worshipping, even in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. The landscape was beautifully maintained and the trees were amazing. I took a photo of one that was being propped up with the remains of another. I like that the first inclination in China is not to tear down and rip out trees but repair and nurture. Three was a huge pavilion that displayed artwork that was for sale and I could have bought a dozen paintings. They were all very simple compared to Western art but so beautiful. I may just come back to America with one. This is tops on my list of places to take visitors so I’ll be visiting often enough that one of them will call my name one too many times. As we walked up the steps to look in a hall there were 3 women scrubbing the marble courtyard/entrance. It was a large area but they were there with buckets and mops cleaning away. They were not using power tools, just a lot of elbow grease and back muscle. I’m not used to seeing people perform these tasks, somehow they just get done. It made appreciate how much work is done for the upkeep so we can enjoy.
I find I’m reluctant to leave these temples and monasteries. I know that what’s waiting is car noise, jostling, and general chaos but it’s all part of the charm of China.
3PM – 68°