Monday, January 14, 2013

Lama Temple, and more eating

On Saturday, we had planned to all go out together, but both Rebecca
and I were pretty congested and miserable from the smog. She decided
to get some rest; they had a long trip later that night to Harbin. I
decided to brave the smog; the cold outside at least keeps my nose
running. Kelley and I went back to the Lama temple; finally, I got
inside--third times a charm, right?

It definitely was one of the more interesting temples I've visited;
it's a large complex with many golden Buddhist idols. The most
impressive one had this explanation on the sign:

Wanfuge
It was built in 1748-1750 AD.
The Matreya Buddha is standing inside. The statue (eighteen metres
above ground and eight metres below ground) was carved from a single
trunk of white sandalwood.

In August 1990 AD, this Buddha was in Guinness Book of records.

There were also two large rooms set up as museums, with a large
collection of Buddhist figurines of all types, Boddhisatvas and
Matreyas as such, mostly from the 1700s.

The temple was quite crowded, but then again, it was a Saturday
afternoon. The smoke of the incense was thick as many people were
doing the traditional bowing and kneeling before the various figures
of the Buddha. I've been to quite a few Buddhist temples over the
past few years, but this one inspired me to want to learn more about
Buddhism. Kelley said she was really interested in the significance
of the number three--the figures are often in groups of three, and the
worshippers always light three sticks of incense, and bow or kneel
three times...I have some books in my apartment that Carie left; I
really should do a little more research.

After we left the temple, we tried to figure out somewhere else to go;
I'd already been to the nearby Confucian temple, we didn't have time
to go to any of the places that closed at four, etc. We stopped for a
late lunch while we examined the map. We finally decided to try the
Poly Art Museum; the Lonely Planet didn't list the opening hours.

Apparently whoever runs this art museum isn't too interested in anyone
finding it. The directions lead to a large roundabout surrounded by
buildings; the address is on the opposite side of where it really is;
the museum is on the ninth floor of a huge building, with only a tiny
mention of it in a list of the multitude of things in that building;
there are no signs whatsoever inside as to how to find it; the people
who work at the information desk speak no English at all and
furthermore don't seem to be at all interested even if they did. We
finally did come out at a side entrance of it on the 9th floor, only
to find out that it closed in five minutes. Nevermind.

So, we went on back and met up with Rebecca and Jon at Helen's. They
and Kelley needed to leave for the train station to catch their night
trains to Harbin around eight, so we ate and talked until then.
Kelley will back in Beijing in a few days; Rebecca and Jon are going
on to Nanjing. However, I'm definitely going to find the time to
visit in Jingzhou this semester.

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