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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

N. China - Day 7, Part 4 - Pingyao: Shuanglin Monastery

"Without the aid of prejudice and custom I should not be able to find my way across the room." - William Hazlitt

***

N. China
Day 7 - 5th November - Pingyao: Shuanglin Monastery
(Part 4)

We then took an electric cart to the Shuanglin Monastery which was a way off from the city. I forgot to return my audioguide, but surprisingly it also gave commentary at Shuanglin Monastery (even though it was 7km from the city)

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Monastery gate

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Mural beside gate

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Many-handed Buddha

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Entrance gateway

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Hall of the Heavenly Kings
On the left is Brahmadeva and on the Right, Sakra. You know this place is old (it dates back to the Song) because they have gods with Indian names.

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On the left is Devanam, then Bstan-Srung and Indra. Bstan-Srung was called, in Chinese, "精美的护法天神" ("Exquisite Buddhist Doctrine Sky God")

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Bstan-Srung

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Hall of the Land God

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Hall of Ksitigarbha (King of Hell)

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Hall of Ksitigarbha (King of Hell). The monk Dao Ming is on the right. Presumably being a Buddhist monk doesn't save you from Hell.

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Sakyamuni Hall

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Sakyamuni Hall. Despite the name, the Indian individuals have been sinicised.

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Hall of the Arhats - "18 Arhats making a pilgrimage to the bodhisattva"

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Hall of the Military God. The big guy should e Sattra.

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Hall of One Thousand Buddhas

While I was in the Hall of One Thousand Buddhas, a CCTV camera was watching me and as I snapped photos the guy shouted over the microphone at me, getting louder each time. Oops.

(If you're wondering why there're photos after this - I took them while kneeling in front of the doors of the halls - photography was not permitted inside the buildings, so I did it outside them)

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Hall of Bodhisattvas

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Guan Yin crossing the bitter sea with 18 protectors. There was something about the Yuan dynasty, and those at the side are Ming Kings.

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Fat Cat

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It was irritating that there were metal bars in all of the buildings. Actually there were internal routes in the halls - you could see wooden railings inside. Maybe too many PRC vandals necessitated further restriction to the statues.

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Precious Hall of Mahavira

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Altar: Amitabha in front of Vairocana

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From left: Samantabhadra, then Sakyamuni (Sakyamuni is the Prime/First Buddha so I don't know why he's in second place here). The small guy is an attendant bodhisattva.

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Losana then Manjusri

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Hall of Loyalty and Righteousness. There's a body of a sleeping girl inside the sculpture.

(Peter Danford has nicer photos than mine)

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The Desolate Countryside

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Drying Maize

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A wooden pavilion

We then took the electric cart back to Pingyao.

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"Special features a light repast mood of pingyao"

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"夫妻保健" ("Husband-Wife Health Maintenance")
This was the closest euphemism to a sex shop I could find in China.

We had some time before our train, so we confronted:

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A row of identical-looking shops. About the only difference was that some offered Sichuan food (it's the only Southern cuisine popular in the North).

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Someone else ordered this 蛋抄饼丝. This was a huge portion for only 5¥ (and he'd already had 2 mouthfuls).

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Chinese Menu - note the variety and price

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English Menu - note the variety and price

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肉丝炒面
Shredded meat fried noodles


肉丝汤面
Shredded meat soup noodles

They had 刀削面 (knife-cut noodles) but the shape was weird.

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In the train there was a Spanish couple above me. Two of them, in a bunk meant for one. So I spent a while in mortal peril.

I was thinking of taking off my shoes and putting them on the floor. Then this girl on a bunk below spat. Onto the TRAIN FLOOR. Where I would've left my shoes. So I threw them on top of my luggage. It is one thing to spit on the ground and walk off. It is another to spit on what will be your living space for an evening. Gah.

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Surly man in train corridor
Incidentally this is the real 硬卧 (hard sleeper) - people can see your feet. There was no dustbin and individual lights (my previous hard sleeper had the latter) but they had the good old hot water flask. And annoyng music was played (whether for entertainment or to piss you off, I don't know)


I observed to my Qufu driver that life is cheap in China, and he agreed.

I kept forgetting the golden rule of Third World Toilets. No, it wasn't "bring your own toilet paper" (in Greece, among many others, you don't have to, since people are not so accursed as in China that they will steal it if it's provided), but "throw used toilet paper into the bin, not the bowl". I hope I didn't choke any toilets.

In Beijing I saw more bicycles than electric bicycles. It was the reverse in Taishan/Qufu, probably because of further distances. In Pingyao it was about the same.
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