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Unexpected Beauty on Thousand Buddha Mountain

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

While Luo Wei stayed at the hostel and rested I decided on a day in the mountains.

What an unexpected say full of exercise and beauty it was. I can't say that Ji'nan is the most attractive city I've ever visited (nor Shandong as a province for that matter) but it certainly has charm to be found in the most unexpected places. We will most probably head to a new destination tomorrow and use Ji'nan simply as a transit point between here and there but I am so glad that we decided to stay another day. I wanted Luo Wei to have a rest as she tires so easy when we travel and I also wanted to check out the Thousand Buddha Mountain her friends had told me about. I had also noticed on the LP map that there was a Botanical Gardens but never did I expect to find such beauty. Northern gardens (not all of course but many) lack the colour and beauty of those in the south except for those in very touristy areas where they have the money to water them and maintain them.

I knew Ji'nan was a very wealthy city but I also knew that it is in no way a tourist city.

So I never thought that that their Botanical Gardens would be what I found. That is one of the most awesome things about travelling, you can always expect the unexpected no matter where you are and being a huge Botanical Gardens fan I was so happy with what I found. So for those travelling in Shandong, maybe head south where things are so much less expensive and so much more beautiful OR if you wish to continue in Shandong and find yourself in Ji'nan, don't use it as a simple transit point, the city does have a lot to offer and it really is worth spending a few days here.

So, to my day and here is what you will find in Ji'nan city!

The Thousand Buddha Mountain

The Thousand Buddha Mountain (Qianfo Shan) Park is situated southeast of the city centre and is a fantastic way to spend the morning or afternoon. It is around 258 meters high (846 feet) ranging from east to west and was made into a park in 1959. The mountain was once called Mt. Li in ancient times but in the early Sui Dynasty (581-618) many statues of Buddha were chiseled on the rocks of the mountain and soon after the Thousand-Buddha Temple was built. The mountain soon became famous and the name of the temple soon become that of the mountain and it has also become a tourist destination for the Buddhism Culture .

Since the Chinese Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), each year a temple fair is held on the mountain on the ninth day of the ninth Chinese lunar month.

Admission is 30 Yuan and from there you can choose to either walk or take the cable car which is 20 Yuan one way (Yuan both) to the Thousand-Buddha Temple (renamed as Xingguo Temple after reparation during Tang Dynasty (618-907)) which is located half way up the mountain. It is built against the cliff face on the south side of the mountain and it overlooks the City to the north. The temple consists of the Daxiong Baodian, Kwan-yin Hall and the Laughing Buddha Hall. For those like me who love a mixture of religious flavours the Lishan Courtyard (to the east of the temple) is where you can Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism harmonizing with each other. The Shun Temple, Luban Temple and the Wenchang Pavilion can all be found here.

I decided to take the cable car up the mountain to save me some time and energy. Not the most exciting cable car ride in the world but it did give me more of an understanding of the size of the mountain and where things were located. The highlights of my day were the two pagodas at the top of the mountain which are around one kilometer apart. Both offer awesome views of both the city and the mountains surrounding the mountain. As usual in China, there is no need to cart a ton of water with you as there is a kiosk at the top along with the other usual local, the man with a digital camera and a printer.

I took the east trail down the mountain which offers awesome views of the twenty meter high Golden Buddha which was forged using three millimeter copper sheets. The Shandong Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery for the Revolution of 1911 is situated in the east side of the mountain. Built in 1934, the cemetery was put under the provincial protection in1979 but I found it hardly worth the visit which is sad as I love Chinese Martyrs Cemeteries. On your journey either up or down the mountain you are bound to stumble across Shandong's largest reclining Buddha which was carved in 1996 and was carved entirely out of granite.

It is ten meters long and weighs around fifty tons. Meaning, he's a big bugger!

On your adventures around the park you will also come across more than one hundred and thirty statures of Buddha that were carved in the Sui Dynasty are placed on the south side of the mountain. The Buddha cliff holds four caves from west to east, namely Longquan Cave, Jile Cave, Qianlou Cave and lvzu Cave. Supposedly you can also find Wanfo Cave (about 500 meters long) which was constructed in the north side of the mountain which draws the best of the four famous grottoes in China (The Mogao Caves, The Longmen Grottoes, The Yungang Caves and The Maiji Caves). Around 23,000 statues of Buddha, Bodhisattva, Disciples and Guardian Kings etc reveal the superb workmanship of sculpture in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Sadly I found no signs nor any mention of the cave anywhere through out the park or on the mountain. I would have loved to of visited such a place.

You can get to the Park by taking tourist bus K51, 2 and 33.from the train station. From Baotu Springs Park you can take bus number 66. A taxi from Baotu Springs Park costs around 9 or 10 Yuan. Walking from Baotu Springs takes around an hour and a half.

The Ji'nan Botanical Gardens

Found just down the road from the Thousand Buddha Mountain on Jing Shilu are the beautiful Ji'nan Botanical Gardens. From the mountain gate walk down to Jing Shilu and turn left and continue walking until you cross Qing Nian Xilu. It will be around a ten minute walk. I thought I had missed it as the LP map makes it look much closer than it actually is. To enter the gardens just up from the lights you will see some bikes and a small gap in the fence, simply squeeze through the gap. Don't worry the gardens are free and the gate is so small to stop people riding their bikes through. The is a main gate which is at the north west corner of the gardens but my map doesn't have the street name.

At first I thought the gardens were going to be just another Northern Chinese boring garden that consists mainly of trees and not much more that is green but the further west I walked the better the gardens became. I soon came across a lake filled with peddle boats surrounded by kiosks and a small fun park from which screams of fun and fear came.

It was only then that I noticed the aerial skywalk above me.

So without further thought I was on a new adventure and one that would show me the beauty of these gardens from above. The skywalk gives you views of all the different gardens and plant life and shows you how beautiful these gardens actually are. I ended up spending two hours walking around the maze of pathways and then decided to walk all the way back to the Quancheng Square and then I begin my search for the cities mosque (Qingzhen Si).

Qingzhen Si (Mosque) & The Muslim BBQ Street

I hadn't actually sat down to look at my LP Map to figure out where our hotel was located on it but when I found the Mosque I noticed that it was located in a Muslim area which when I thought about it, had to put me a block away from my hotel. Strangely the LP has a generous write up on the mosque but not the area it is located in.

I actually found the mosque to be very unattractive and didn't bother visiting it (as it was also under renovations at the time I visited). Instead I spent some time visiting several different bbq stalls that ran along Yinhuchi Jie (found between Luoyuan Dajie and Gongqingtuan Lu). If you are in Ji'nan and want a night full of bbq and beer this is the area for you. There are countless bbq stalls here and I was absolutely amazed at the size of the actual bbq burners. In all my journeys around China I have never come across bbqs so long in length. I was quickly on the phone to Luo Wei and we met for a wonderful last meal in Ji'nan city before heading home to the hotel to pack and ready ourselves for OUR next and last leg of our summer adventure together. Sadly her Uni had contacted her and asked her to return to Xian as soon as possible to help promote the school for the following school year.

Luo Wei finally cleared up something that has been messing with me for years now.

Each year while on holidays I have many Chinese friends who are called back to school or work and they simply go without question. When I questioned Luo Wei about it she simply said 'It is my decision to travel and not the schools decision there for I make plans to return as soon I possible to begin working'. Each time I question it she gave the same answer (or round about). I explained how it worked in the west that we can't be called back from holidays as ours are set etc and as far as I know so are the summer holidays in China and why didn't the uni sort this out prior to teachers leaving for summer break.

On and on we discussed this same topic and around and around and around we went.

Finally she told me that all teachers are actually paid for both months of the summer break and that they are still actually working but are allowed to go home unless they are needed. Now I've had this same conversation with so many of my Chinese teaching friends and none of them have ever told me that they are paid for their summer breaks. Yet when I question the governments right or the schools right to simply call them and have them jump when told to do so they all told me that the school did not ask them to travel or go further than their home and no on ever told me why. I then text mailed several of the friends I have had this conversation with and asked them if they were paid for their summer break.

Of course we are! Honestly, getting information out of anyone here is like trying to draw blood from a stone!

Beers N Noodles toya.....shane

PS: So where will we be tomorrow night? Where is our next destination? To be honest I have no idea at all. I have allowed Luo Wei full access to the bible (my LP) and she has been studying it today and will tell me her decision tomorrow when we arrive at the bus station.

How wonderful is life! ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Opeth The album was 'The Damnation' ____________________________________________________________

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St


Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Buddha Mountain, Botanical Gardens & Muslim BBQ St

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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