Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Two Temples and a Hot Plane

This morning we visited the Temple of Heaven and the Lama Temple. The first one was surrounded by a public park where people were outside doing exercises of all kinds. They even had some equipment where you could watch old men lifting themselves up on parallel bars, and senior citizens turning wheels and stair stepping.

They had all kinds of dance groups, even ball room and rumba. It was just like an outdoor rec center. If it hadn't been so hot outside we would have wanted to join them!
 The Temple of Heaven was a beautiful building built in the 15th century and subsequently restored after being hit by lightning. It was the emperor's personal temple where he prayed for good harvests.
 They had a mock up of the temple showing how it was built. Ed spent some time huddled with Brittany and John in a spot where there were feeling some good "chi." It turned out it was directly under the air conditioner vent!
 We dropped by a place that sells freshwater pearls, where Amanda went fishing for an oyster. I was the lucky winner of one small pearl, as my guess of 20 pearls inside was the closest. Apparently, the salt water oysters are smaller and only have on pearl each, but the freshwater ones are large and have many pearls inside. We enjoyed shopping and even gave up a few clams (dollars) for some necklaces and earrings!

 Moving on to the Lama temple, a good number of people had come to burn incense and pray. The signs said "Windy, no incense burning." Fortunately, it was not windy, but it gave better clarity to yesterday's signs at the Ming Tombs that just stated, "No naked flames."

The final in the series of temples on the complex boasted a giant Buddha made out of one Sandalwood tree. It was so large that it was hard to find an angle where you could get the entire statue in the picture. They had to install the Buddha and build the building around it.
 John found a nice bench to sit on where he chatted up one of the Lama monks. Many of them are Tibetan, but some are also Han Chinese. The Tibetan ones are a little more traditional, and don't have the smiling Buddha in their pantheon of Gods. That is a little extra happiness the Chinese brought to the religion.
 We had a buffet lunch that had more than just Chinese food. Ed especially liked the spaghetti, but we all liked the all you could drink soda fountain! After that, Johnny dropped us off at the airport for our trip to Zhangjiajie. Our plane was about an hour late, and then, after we boarded we sat on the tarmac for an hour. None of this would have been unbearable, but the air conditioning on the plane wasn't on. To make matters worse, the plane didn't cool off during the entire 2 hour flight! We were distracted briefly by the fact that they actually served a meal on the plane! We're now safely ensconced in our hotel rooms, cranking up the air conditioning to the max!

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