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Famen Temple & a Finger Bone of the Buddha

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Sadly it has arrived; today is the last day of the 2010 Winter Beers N Noodles Adventure. Tomorrow I will grab a bus with a new teacher and we will venture into the new term.

From my understanding I will be teaching in a school in Hanzhong City which sits in the south west of Shaanxi Province and is around four hours from Xian city where I am sitting right now. I will be teaching Grades 4 to 6 and Aussie Brad will be teaching Grades 1 to 3 and the two new female foreign teachers will be in a Private Primary School about twenty minutes from ours so it more than looks like next term will be full of Beers N Noodles and other great adventures.

Between now and then though is this evening!

A big dinner has been organised for all the foreign teachers that are here or about to arrive so it will be actually great to meet some of the people I’ve been chatting to about coming to China to teach for the past many months. I never get to meet most of the people I help as I’m usually here or way over there for my holidays and never over there where they are as I’ve already been there. So not only am I looking forward to the dinner but I am now actually getting rather excited about the coming term and being in a new school even though I’ve mostly heard bad things about it.

One thing I have learned in life is that things change and if you’re in a situation that needs to be changed, then go about changing it to suite your needs and if that change is walled then scamper off to find a new adventure and a new situation that suites you.

Apart from that the winter cold is at its tail end and we are now having two warm days for each coolish day As there is no great need for winter clothes I think you know what is racing through my mind each warm day and yes you guessed it, getting back on a bike and finding new and exciting bike rides in my new area. At this very moment I’m having lunch with Laura who was one of the last teachers at my new school and who like most, left very unhappy at the way she was treated and at not being allowed to teach 'her’ way but instead forced to teach the Chinese ‘Repeat Repeat’ way.

Needless to say we are having a bit of a giggle now that it’s over.

The most exciting thing I’ve done since returning to the north is visit the Famen Temple which renowned for storing the veritable Finger Bone of the Sakyamuni Buddha and is located in Fufeng County in Shaaxi Province which is 120km east of Xi'an and has a history of more than seventeen hundred years. I’ve been meaning to check it out for the past year but have just never put the plan into action. Thankfully when I was chatting to Chen Miao she jumped at it as she has never had a chance to visit which is sad as she is a local and it also houses something so important to a belief she holds so near.

We met at the KFC across from the train station and grabbed the 8:00am Tour Bus Number 2 from outside of the train station. The bus costs Twenty Five Yuan each way and my first piece of advice is to tell you NOT buy your return ticket in the morning with your ticket there as they will when you board the return you will be told it is not the correct ticket and that you need to purchase a new one for your journey home. Thankfully when they tried that with us Chen Miao happily raced off and returned with five police officers and from the way they dragged the driver from the bus it was obvious this wasn’t the first time he and his smart mouthed assistant had tried to steal money in such a way.

When we were walking to the ticket office we were bombarded by elderly incense sellers who have learned not to take no for an answer and will follow you and prod and pock you until you either run away or turn and yell at them. Once we finally got past the incense ladies we then had men telling us not to buy a ticket as they could get us in for a much cheaper price. My gut instinct was telling me that it was not a good idea so I happily paid the 90Yuan for each ticket and off we went.

Second piece of advice

Thankfully we did purchase tickets as during the afternoon we witnessed entire families being escorted from the grounds for not having a ticket to show during random ticket checks and it may sound a little harsh but the fact is we witnessed around twenty people jumping the fence with help from the locals and their long bamboo ladders. Sadly for them within minutes they were being chased by several golf carts full of Police and then being escorted from the grounds. So if you are going to visit the temple do yourself a favor and pay the ticket price as there is more of a chance that you WILL get caught and thrown from the grounds never to return.

My initial thoughts of the temple upon arrival were; Oh my god, what in the world is that? Is it a museum or is it a hotel?

This place is huge, in fact it is more than huge and no expense has been spared during its construction due to government plans for it to be the future terracotta warriors. After we entered I walked around with thoughts that we had wasted our time and money coming to visit this ‘thing’ but not long after seeing the actual strangely shaped temple that sat far in the misty distance I began warming to the place. As it was a coldish day we decided to do a happy couple thing and raced from place to place taking as many silly photos as we possibly could of each other. We raced from here to there and up and down stairs and then over there and when we had had enough of the Famen Temple we entered the smaller Tang style temple that is included in your ticket price which wasn’t really that exciting. We then left the grounds via the Tang Dynasty gate and spent the next few hours visiting the two sites that are in view down the dusty yet busy road way that leads to the local bus station.

Both are worth visiting and even though the eighteen Yuan entry fee for a small bland sixth centaury temple is too high we actually had more fun there than at the Famen Temple. Your entry fee gets you into the small Buddhist hell/haunted house dungeon beneath the huge four faced Buddha figure above.

The actual Buddha is an eight storey pagoda and worth climbing the rickety stairs for the view.

After the two hour journey back to Xian we had our last dinner together for what will most likely be several months after which we waved our sad goodbyes through the rear window of the bus that was to take her to her small village on the out skirts of the city.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane PS: As usual all photos can be found beneath the photos. ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Rage Against The Machine The album was ‘The Battle For Los Angeles’ ____________________________________________________________

<u>The Famen Temple</u>

Famen Temple was built in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).

Also known as King Asoka Temple.

According to the Buddhist scriptures, in 272BC, King Asoka of India presented relics of Buddha to different places in order to carry forward Buddhist doctrines. All places receiving such relics had to build pagodas to enshrine them; therefore, eighty four thousand pagodas were built worldwide. There are nineteen such pagodas in China, among which Famen Temple is the largest. Its prosperity began during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) and reached the peak in the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907) when it was reputed as an imperial temple. Eight emperors of the Tang Dynasty welcomed several times the bone relics of the Buddha back to the palace for worship and awarded a large amount of treasure to the temple which was stored at its underground palace.

<u>Four Gates</u>

Between Temple Gate Square and Foguang Avenue stand four gates, Foguang Gate, Prajna Gate, Bodhi Gate and Perfect Wisdom Gate. Foguang Gate is the place where the light of Buddha delivers all beings from torture and guides them to the Buddhist Faramita. Inside the Foguang Gate are the two still water pools named "Heart-Pacifying Pool." As sacred symbol of Buddhism, lotus living in the silt but not stained signifies the purity of Buddhists among the filthy world.

Prajna refers great wisdom in Buddhism.

<u>Foguang Avenue</u>

As the main axle, it divides the Scenic Area into the Western and Eastern Sections. The Eastern Section, named "Famous Site of Buddha", displays the whole process from the birth to the nirvana of Sakyamuni. The Western Section, named "Source of Buddhist Realm", exhibits the great advance of Buddhism since Sakyamuni's nirvana.

Along the Foguang Avenue are the ten statutes of well-known Bodhisattva.

<u>Namaste Dagoba and The Buddha’s Finger Bone</u>

Namaste Dagoba was completed on May 9, 2009 after three years construction.

At the center of temple is the thirteen tiered octagonal pagoda (148m) under which it is said, a sliver of the finger bone of Sakyamuni was discovered. In 1981, subsidence of the pagoda led to reconstruction, during which, an Underground Palace was discovered unexpectedly in 1987. Many royal treasures and jewellery were found here - more than two thousand pieces surrounded the Tang mandala (geometric designs, usually circular, symbolizing the universe).

The most precious one is the veritable Finger Bone of the Sakyamuni Buddha.

<u>The Temple Museum</u>

Famen Temple Museum was established in 1987, which includes most of the precious treasures from the Tang Dynasty removed from Underground Palace, including gold and silverware, colored glaze ware, porcelain and silks. Owing to more and more tourists and their curiosity to the relics, two new exhibition halls were established in the year 2000 and the exhibition area expanded from five hundred square meters to three thousand square meters.

Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Famen Temple With Chen Miao


Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Famen Temple With Chen Miao


Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Famen Temple With Chen Miao


Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Famen Temple With Chen Miao


Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Famen Temple With Chen Miao


Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Famen Temple With Chen Miao


Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

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Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Famen Temple With Chen Miao


Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Famen Temple With Chen Miao


Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Famen Temple With Chen Miao

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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