Day 53 of 111. Lingyin Temple
Near the West Lake is the oldest intact Buddhist temple in China. There were four major temples, but three of them were destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. The massive size of the buildings and statues in these temples was impressive, but we were also lucky enough to be present for a ceremony inside the main temple. The monks, the chanting, the instruments and incense made that ceremony very memorable.
The large statues of Gods of Heaven were my favorite part. I did take the opportunity to light incense and make a wish (Safe Travels).
Day 53 of 111. Hangzhou, China
When we arrived in Hangzhou on the bullet train, we boarded a bus and drove to the West Lake. This lake is very popular with tourists and since it was Sunday, there were people everywhere. We boarded a moderate-sized boat for our 45-minute cruise with a tour guide telling us about the lake, the surrounding hills, the city, and about the differences among pagodas, towers, and temples. We could see a tower in the distance. We saw the Dragon Boat which is reserved for officials, but is used for tourists when it is not otherwise needed. We passed a man-made island (made from the silt that collects in the lake). There were trees filled with cormorants looking to fish in the lake. A side story told by our guide was about his daughter. Because of the law, she is an only child and spoiled. However, he is glad to have a girl because in order for a boy to get married, he must have a house and a car. These are often provided by his parents. Girls are less expensive. This tradition keeps a lot of people single.
Day 53 of 111. Shanghai, China
We woke up today in Shanghai, China. It was fun to look out the window and see an interesting skyline. I thought that the colorful characters on the shore say Welcome to Shanghai or something, but our guide says they mean Starbound ⭐️, oh well! We had a bus ride to the huge railway station next to the airport and we boarded a bullet train for our trip to Hangzhou, a popular tourist destination. The train reaches speeds of 250 km/hr. There is also a maglev train in Shanghai, but that is different. An interesting fact is that the one child restriction has been eased in China. Apparently there is a need for more young people in the population since the population is getting older and many young couples are DINKs (Double Income No Kids). If you have a girl as your first child, you can have a second child to try to get a boy.
Day 50 of 111. Beijing, China
Tian’anmen Square was exciting to see because of its grandeur and infamous history. It is a large square with the classic image of Chairman Mao on the one side. The monument of heroes stands up in the center of the square. There were Italian as well as China flags flying because the Italian prime minister was visiting. There were two large statues/monuments that we could not get close to because of a barrier that led to Chairman Mao’s tomb. An interesting point was that our bus passed many visitors to the square who had to line up and go through a security check. Somehow, our bus and tour was pre-checked and we were able to pull up and park just across the street from the square.
The Temple of Heaven was our last big stop in Beijing. This was originally a temple, but now it is a public park. In the mornings, people can be seen doing Tai Chi. In the spring, people play instruments in the park. Most days you can find people along the long corridor playing cards and Chinese chess. The buildings and hallways are decorated with bright colors and interesting patterns. The temple building used to be the tallest structure in Beijing and therefore attracted lightning and burned. It was rebuilt quite awhile ago and is an impressive structure.
Day 50 of 111. Beijing, China
We toured The Forbidden City in Beijing. We entered the South Gate and exited the North Gate and walked about a kilometer in between. The scale of the complex was impressive, but thinking back to the grandeur it must have had when being used really made us think. The colors, the patterns and the shapes gave us things to look at in each direction. Add to this the history and stories told by the guide and you can imagine what a great experience this was.
There was still snow on the ground, the air was cold and the moats were frozen, but at the same time, the snow worked to clear the air of pollution. Notice how beautifully blue the skies were during our visit. The other effect of the cold weather is that I wore my knit cap all the time except for the twelve seconds it took to have my picture taken, so I have “hat hair” in my photos!
Memorable tidbits of information include the three entrances in the gates, the center entrance was for the emperor, the right for his officials and the left for the military. The golden throne for the emperor showed how magnificent he was, but even so, he sat behind a screen so no one saw him. We enjoyed the bronze animals decorating the palace, especially the dragon with his funny expression.