November 9, 2007
A very brave woman at work once asked me if she could show me around to some sights. So, this Friday we agreed to meet on Saturday morning, and she would show me around the area of the Lama Temple.
November 10, 2007
We agreed to meet at a KFC (not “the KFC”, but one a block away) between 10:30 and 10:45. She arrived about 10 minutes after I did apologizing that she was very late. There is no possible way that she was more than 1 minute late. She told me a little about the Temple, and then we went and found a taxi.
This is a very active place of Buddhist worship, and even though it was quite active, it was clear that I was unnoticed. Tourists are very common here, and I took the tack of observing and trying to stay out of the way while trying to see as much as I could.
This place is incredibly amazing. Foremost for how active it is. It’s full of life and hopes and wishes, and the earnestness of those whom gather here. Second is because of the art and statues. Buddha and many other devas in many sizes and colors, are all there to see, and to pay homage to.
I was advised that it’s impolite to photograph within the halls (and various signs also advised against it), so I have some photographs of the buildings, and a few photographs of things that are outside of the halls, but only postcards representing a few of the many, many treasures inside.
I found this to be an amazing place, and an amazing experience. One which I will not soon forget.
So we went to a restaurant, “Jin Ding Xuan”（金鼎轩), not far from the temple, and ordered several small dishes of things. I forgot to take pictures of the restaurant or food, but the place was reasonably priced, and had very good food. My host wanted to eat chicken claws, and this was the only thing I tried that I didn’t care for. Chicken claws are mostly bone, and the flesh is very fatty. It’s mostly like eating chicken-skin, with the additional joy of picking a little chicken talon out from between my teeth. Otherwise, the food was excellent.
Much less active, and very nearby is the Confucius Temple. From what I could gather it is mostly an ancient school where emperors would learn the skills required to lead. This place did not have a particularly spiritual feeling - but there was not a great deal of active worship to give this place a feeling of reverence. Photography was either allowed or not expressly prohibited, so I did get some photos of the inside of the main hall. There were a great deal of exotic musical instruments and wooden tablets placed in curtained coves. These were the only points where it appeared that this place has a deeper purpose.
In a side hall there was a display discussing the life of Confucius. I read a lot, but the English translations were often painful to read, and sometimes made no sense at all. My guide was of some help here, but there was a lot to see in a small space, and the temple grounds were about to close.
A Public Thank You…
I deeply hope I was not imposing myself in any way. My guide was very kind in extending the offer, and it took all of her Saturday to show me things. I cannot begin to say how much I appreciate the time and patience it took to try to explain things to me all day. To my guide… “Thank you, again.”