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Friday, August 03, 2007

China Trip
Day 5 (27/6) - Hangzhou: Ling Ying Si
(Part 1)

I went to Hangzhou alone, since Johnny Malkavian wanted to take photos in Shanghai.

Since I traveled on the more expensive trains, I found them to be excellent. Not quite Deutsche Bahn standard, but still entirely satisfactory. I should have bought one ticket for one of the cheaper trains, though, since jostling with chickens and elbowing peasants would have been an experience (note: not all 'experiences' are inherently good).

Shanghai Railway Station was alright, but Shanghai South Railway Station was extremely modern, with a design using lots of glass and steel. Instead of an area with 'drinking water' they had, more accurately, a 'tea water room'.

After the train left the station, I heard the announcement: 'Ni3 men2 de4 lu4 xing2 shen1 huo2 kai1 shi3 le4' (Your travel life-experience with us has started!) Maybe the people on the train were deprived and hadn't traveled by train before. They also wished us a travel experience impregnated with love and harmony. Gah. I was subjected to a barrage of announcements about not pouring tea leaves down the drain, not sitting on the window sills and saving water so they would not violate environmental regulations (no, I'm not joking).

Unfortunately, I had not remembered to use the one on the train before arrival, so on arriving in Hangzhou, I had to use the toilet. This was a big mistake, since I got what I paid for. The toilet was wet, dirty and reeked of the smell of ammonia. Many of the cubicles could not lock. There was neither toilet paper nor soap (yes, bringing your own toilet paper isn't always enough to see you through), nor any hook in the cubicle to hang my clothes or bag.

The bus system was quite good, so I hopped on a bus for tourists, intending to head for the Yue Fei shrine. I was surprised when it entered Ling Ying Si (Temple of the Soul's Retreat) so I got off there. Upon getting off, I was beset with people trying to sell me incense and joss sticks. I would've shouted *God is Great* at them, but they'd probably haul me away, so.

At Ling Ying Si, I saw that just outside the toilet attendant's room there was someone making wanton (dumplings). Wth.

These 2 ladies were doing endless takes of the entrance, so I gave up and memorialised them for eternity.

Kawaii old woman

Complex ticket booth

There was a cave at the site of the road to the monastery which I explored. Going inside, I found one of the many rock carvings the area was famous for (and which were relatively untouched by the Cultural Revolution).

Niche 93. 18th Arhat. Song.

You're supposed to grope the right hand of this Buddha thrice to be struck with good luck (or a prosperous streak). The tour guides were telling people you were then also supposed to put your hand in your mouth. I'm not sure if they were just trying to play a prank on their wards, but no one did it, since the only thing you'd be struck with would be Dysentry.

Peak flying from afar

Niche 90. Maitreya. N. Song.

Water continuously flowing down the wall, no doubt responsible for the erosion of the carvings.

This should be what Wikipedia calls "one thread of heaven" ("一线天")

The way out of the main cave.

Li Gong pagoda, containing the ashes of Huili, the Indian monk who founded the place

Niche 11, Bodhisattva. Yuan; Niche 12, Vajrapani Bodhisattva. Yuan.

In the lower left: "Embossment series of monk master in his explorative quest to the West for Buddhist essence" (the translation sounds like I did it myself - it's actually Journey to the West)

Laughing Buddha wearing a large pocket [Ed: ???]. S. Song.

No 50. Umbrella Heavenly King. Yuan.

Niche 66, Buddha of Infinite Life, Yuan; Niche 67, Mahasthamaprapta Buddha, Yuan.

Pillar beside Niche 68

Moving on to the monastery itself, I was annoyed to find that the ticket I'd bought earlier only granted me admission to the general grounds, not to the monastery.

I skipped Yuyuan Hall, the highest, since I still wanted to visit the Yue Fei Mausoleum, Leifeng Ta and walk around/across West Lake.
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