Day 196: Tao

Spirituality is hard work.

Spirituality is hard work.

A young Taoist priest is napping instead of copying calligraphy from the book under his elbow. I have been told by friends that some of the ‘priests’ are just young people paid to dress up as priests. Regardless, this young man could not seem to keep his head off of the desk for more than a few seconds at a time as the busy lunch hour crowds streamed through the Old City God Temple of Shanghai. Located adjacent to YuYuan Garden, “The popularity of the temple also led to many businesses being set up in the area, turning the surrounding streets into a busy marketplace.”

Day 191: Summer Palace

Suzhou Street, Summer Palace

Suzhou Street, Summer Palace

Our son is visiting from the USA for the summer and we are playing tourist, yesterday it was the Great Wall, today, the Summer Palace. We rode the metro from our hotel in Chaoyang to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Summer Palace Yesterday, at the Great Wall, the weather was overcast and in the 80’s, but today the sun rose high and hot and by midday was blistering the ground in the mid 90’s creating a good business for the water vendors. Air quality remained at a moderate 84–about 200 points below what I’ve come to expect– so all in all, a great day for being in Beijing.

Day Ninety-Nine: Mahjong

A mahjong game attracts some oberservers.

A mahjong game attracts some observers.

I borrowed a bicycle from the hotel and took a meandering 20 km ride around central Beijing, yesterday, despite an AQI of 250, in the “Very Unhealthy” range. The bad air isn’t really noticeable at street level, however there was quite a bit of pollen and petals from the Spring flowering trees swirling around and I did catch an occasional bug in my teeth. There was also a lot of construction & destruction taking places, small scale projects in many of the hutong neighborhoods I roamed, that added blowing dust and sand to the mix. The air quality aside, it was a glorious day to be about and about, sunny and unseasonably warm with temperatures reaching the mid 80’s (30 C). My original plan upon departing the hotel was to walk the 4 km to the Bell and Drum Towers, north of the Forbidden City, but when I exited the backside of the hotel I noticed a row of matching bicycles; the doorman informed me that they are available for guests, so I checked one out–complete with helmet and lock– and rode north. Much of the day was spent avoiding the main streets and commercial lanes of Beijing in general, focusing on exploring the side alleys of the hutongs. I did make it to the two ancient, MIng structures and they are impressive, but I didn’t bother entering, choosing instead to lock my bike and wander to surrounding hutongs by foot, where I discovered this cheerful group of resident playing a spirited game of mahjong.

Day Eighty-Three: Buddha & Bonsai

Buddha and Bonsai

Buddha and Bonsai

“To him in whom love dwells, the whole world is but one family.”
Buddha

Some days it’s good to just lie low. After a weekend spent walking around Pudong in the sunshine and warmth, I didn’t leave the apartment, despite another warm, sunny day, until taking a short trip to the grocery, at 8 PM.

Mandarin lessons in the morning and a couple of hours of online research ate up the day, which made picking a subject for today’s picture a challenge, until I noticed how the Ayi had arranged the Buddha and the bonsai on the corner cabinet; late afternoon window light provided the illumination.

Day Sixty-five: Nanjing

Nun selling tickets at entrance to Jimingsi Temple, Nanjing, China

Nun selling tickets at entrance to Jimingsi Temple, Nanjing, China

The Jimingsi Temple “is a renowned Buddhist temple in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. It is one of the most antique temples in Nanjing.[1] The temple is located near the Xuanwu Lake in central Nanjing.” I entered this temple from the adjacent Ming City Wall and this Buddhist nun was dozing at the ticket table in the cold, unheated entry way. Most visitors enter the temple from street level so I may have been her first, if not only customer. The entry fee of 10 yuan ($1.63 USD) includes 3 incense sticks to be burned at the upper temple.