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A Maze of Alley Ways N Temples N Shady Parks

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya Today was one of my simple days and a day of rest. My sandals were placed against the wall and my feet hung high. Yeah right, only jokin mate, I can't believe you believed such a silly thing! Not a bus or taxi paid for or used and the only things used to transport me from here to there were my sandal clad feet. I can tell you that right now they are not very happy with me at all. I have seen several things out of the city so today it was time to do what I do best and that is to leave the hotel and zig zag my way around as much of the inner city as possible. I left the hotel nearing eleven this morning and got home around nine this evening. Like most Chinese city's Datong has several parks, the inner glitzy shopping streets and hidden away behind it all are the sections that I search for the most. The poor areas where everyone has to use the public toilets, where the streets are narrow and usually made from stones or dirt, where children are allowed to play happily in that dirt and where families and friends gather in groups in the streets to talk, play cards or marjong. Sadly it is also where things smell due to lack of or non existent plumbing and huge communal rubbish areas. Why do I search for such places? To most it may sound strange but these are the areas I came to China for. They are the reason I don't teach in big cities and they house the children I love to teach. Those who come from families who can not and will probably never be able to put their child in an 'after hours English school'. It is these areas I have so much fun in and find a trillion happy smiles! The children race around saying Hello Hello and are so full of questions. They jump from foot to foot eagerly trying to ask what they want to know. Most of the time the communication gap gets in the way and I curse myself for not knowing Mandarin but then I stop to remind myself that it is these same areas that never actually use Mandarin. Oh the irony! Oh the damn irony! This morning after leaving the hotel I went in search of breakfast and all that was on my mind was Yangzhou Chao Fan (or simply, fried rice). But what you must remember is this one simple fact, I am no longer in the south and here in the north the main diet is noodles. For those that have never been to China and also for most of those who have been to China (whom usually don't stay long enough to grasp any difference anywhere except maybe the building structures etc) China really should be broken into three different countries based simply on diet. The southerners eat bucket loads of rice! Never believe a southerner when they tell you they only have one small bowl! In the north they eat noodles! Never believe a northerner when they tell you they eat rice! I can tell you, the rice up here in the north is very watery, crappy and bloody expensive! And in the west, mutton and fresh hand made noodles! Put a bowl of hand made noodles before a southerner or a northerner and they will both begin to tell you stories from history that will make your heart skip a few beats and bring tears to your eyes. Somewhere in those stories will also be the history of all the different types of foods. Xinjiang Province is to the Chinese what Tibet is to us. It is a completely different culture, language, sound, smell and people. When you mention Xinjiang Province the eyes of both southerners and northerners will begin to shimmer and many times you can actually watch as their minds fill with dreams and visions. For most that is all it will ever be, just a dream and that goes for Tibet and Nepal for us. Mention either of those two to your friends and you can sit back and watch them as they replay documentaries and childhood dreams in their minds giant plasma screen. Not many Chinese that I know would choose Tibet over Xinjiang Province. In fact not may Chinese that I know really talk about Tibet at all. Nothing to do with politics, the fact is they just don't. It is like most of them have never heard of the place before. Anyhow, where was I? Oh yeah, my boring, watery and expensive Yangzhou Fried Rice. I seriously don't know why I bother ordering it anymore as most of the time it is the same and when I look at my rice filled bowl being carried across the room my excitement fades. All I can see is white and maybe a few patches of yellow where they have thrown in a couple of corn kernels to add colour. I want to run to the nearest station to purchase a ticket back home to the south! But hey, I'm not a southerner anymore am I! Now I'm a middlish, semi-tropical guy! After Brunch I decided it was time to visit both the Datong Park and the Ertong Park and for those wishing to do the same when you get to Datong, forget it mate. Both are identical and both are overgrown with weeds and not maintained at all. Like most Chinese city parks they have roller coasters and dodgem cars and other amusements for children and child like grownups people like me but the good thing about Ertong Park is that they were spread out all over the park. If you really do want to visit' visit Ertong Park as it has an old war plane you can play on and you can then watch people swim in the horridly dirty lake and like me wonder if they actually know or have been taught about the effects of horridly dirty lakes on their health. After the city's two parks I headed to Red Flag Square to DICO's for a cheap coffee 'pick me up' and some air conditioning. Now it was time to enter the maze of alley ways that can be found behind the glitz and glamour of Da Xijie and Da Dongjie. Sadly I found that most of the homes and buildings here have been marked for deletion. Maybe if I ever return to Datong City I will find them replaced by more glitz and glamour where each store sells the same sports shoes and dresses as those on either side. But with a different label and price tag! My first stop was a beautiful yet very busy small temple at the end of the first alley way. The alley way is filled with the delicious smells of bbq'd meat and freshly fried breads. I have no idea what the name of the temple is, it may even be the Upper Huayan Temple but I doubt it. It is much too small. The thing I loved most about it is the energy of everyone there. Three elderly women took me by the arm and let me around the place pointing to everything they thought I should take a picture of. Strangely it was all the things that other Buddhist Temples strictly forbid photos of! I spent the next few hours winding my way around the maze and chatting to children as they raced to and fro around me saying Hellow! Hellow! Some even bought me ice-creams and others a fried chicken stick. Most of the time the stall/store owners wouldn't allow me to pay so I would then purchase a few little things and then run off leaving them with the children who would then race after me trying to give them back. And who says that being lost in a maze is not fun! I soon found myself over on Huayansi Jie (Road) and from the sound of the music I was very near the Lower Huayan Monastery. Flashy big and bright tour buses were parked out the front of the temple and of course right in the middle of the road where the drivers had no intention of moving for anyone no matter how loud their horns were! I sat and watched the commotion for ten or so minutes in total amusement before heading over to the ticket window. Happily for me yet rather strange was the fact that the entrance fee was still twenty Yuan. Could this be right? I wonder, how could this be? Did the lady give me back too much money? Inside the temple buildings the taking of photo's was strictly forbidden, so much so each building had a camera inside it. I'm sure in some dark corner of one of the very back buildings was there was a crazed security guy just waiting for a foreigner to whip out his camera so he could rush in yelling 'Deport him! Cancel his Visa! OR.....Feed him watery, tasteless and expensive fried rice for the rest of his life!' After I left the Huayan Temple I went back to my aimless wonderings in the maze behind the glitz and glamour of the city's main shopping streets. Whilst walking I came across different parts of the old city wall. Like many city walls in China it had been left to the weather and had eroded over hundreds of years. Now that China has become one of the most sought after countries for traveling most of these cities have caught on and have began the process of rebuilding their walls. Luckily for me I actually found the part of the wall they had actually started rebuilding. As the sun began setting my stomach woke from its happy sleep with a ferocious appetite and as I was searching for something to eat I came across a restaurant called YH Fast Food and thought hey, I'm hungry and it promises fast so why not. What a great choice it was. My noodles were totally awesome and believe it or not my vegetable salad was the best I have had since arriving in China over three and a half years ago. The salad dressing also tasted real! MMMmmm now that I am not leaving Datong for Hohot tomorrow morning I think I will take Luo Wei there for dinner tomorrow night! That is if she is awake, by that time she would have been on trains and busses for around fifteen hours in a seat! She really is the Super Northern Train Girl! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane _________________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by the beautiful Tori Amos The album was 'Under The Pink' __________________________________________________________ Most of the below was taken from the entrance ticket.[/i] I added a few lines here and there. <u>Like the line under these words.</u>[/i] </b></b> The Lower Huayan Monastery was built in AD1038 during the Liao Dynasty (AD907 to 1125). It is supposedly one of the best and most complete monastic buildings left of the Khitan ethnic group remaining to date and is also the oldest building in Datong city. [/i] [/i] Bhagavat Storage Hall is the main building and it is a storeroom for Buddhist Scriptures. It was also once a sutra library. There are thirty eight wooden bookcases and a group of towers of wood. The tower is meticulously carved. [/i] [/i] The Bhagavat Storage has twenty nine coloured clay figures. They are of a rare collection of art from the Liao Dynasty. [/i] [/i] <u>Huayan[/i] Temple[/i]:</b></u></b>[/i]</b> [/i]</b> The Huayan Monastery complex is located on Daxi Street on the south western side of Datong City, Shanxi Province. [/i] [/i] There are two separate sections to the monastery, the upper one referred to as the Grand Hall housing five large Ming Dynasty Buddhas, and the lower section referred to as the Sutra Temple containing a library of some 18,000 volumes of Buddhist writings. Built during the Liao Dynasty (907 - 1125), the Huayan Monastery is the largest and best preserved monastery of the Liao Dynasty in existence in China. This monastery was built according to the Huayan Sutra Sect of the Huayan School and is unique in that it faces east instead of south. [/i] [/i] Emperors in the Liao Dynasty sincerely believed in Buddhism, so they built many monasteries. The Huayan Monastery was originally the ancestral temple of the imperial family, offering sacrifices for emperors of the Liao Dynasty. In the middle period of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), the temple was divided into two parts, the Upper Huayan Monastery and the Lower Huayan Monastery and was renovated and enlarged several times to its present form. [/i] [/i] Now, the upper and lower monasteries are connected together, but each has a main hall. [/i] [/i] The main hall of the upper monastery is the Hall of Sakyamuni. It was first built in the Liao Dynasty and renovated in the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234). Occupying an area of 1,553 square meters (about 0.4 acres) it is one of the largest Buddha halls of the Liao period still in existence in China. In the middle of the hall, there are five sculptures standing in a row at the bottom of a lotus flower. Another twenty sculptures of gods, standing bowing to show their respect accompany the five main gods. Paintings on the wall depict sutra stories. [/i] The total area of the well-preserved color frescos is 890 square meters (about 0.2 acres) which is rare in China. On top of the hall are color paintings from the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasties (1644 - 1911) portraying dragons, cranes, flowers, all of which are images often found in Chinese legends on Buddhism. [/i] [/i] [/i] The Lower Monastery is simple and unsophisticated. Its main hall is the Bhaga Repository Hall in which Buddhist sutra is kept. The wooden library containing the Buddhist scriptures is exquisitely and elaborately designed. There are thirty-one sculptures in the hall among which the Bodhisattva with a pious prayer pose is the most famous; it possesses a lifelike human likeness rather than that of a god. [/i]

Temples &#38;amp; Parks City Walk

Temples &#38;amp; Parks City Walk


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1-Temples &#38;amp; Parks City Walk


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6-Temples &#38;amp; Parks City Walk


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7-Temples &#38;amp; Parks City Walk


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48-Temples &#38;amp; Parks City Walk


49-Temples &#38;amp; Parks City Walk

49-Temples &#38;amp; Parks City Walk

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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