Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Enlightenment and Education
Yesterday being the first day of the New Year, many people made their pilgrimage to Buddhist temples, and one of the best known in Xiamen is Nanputuo Temple.
It's north east of Xiamen University and if you don't know the way, you can follow some monks who are probably heading back there.
The prelude to the place is a nice park area complete with a pond, pagodas and even some beggars trying to get some compassion from visitors.
The temple was festooned with colourful prayer flags strewn around the temple and many people paid the 3RMB admission fee to get in as well as bring in lots of incense to burn.
It was built in the Tang Dynasty over 1,000 years ago and was destroyed and rebuilt many times, which probably explains the different architecture in the various temples.
Many people burned incense at first temple for Buddha and his cohorts. Then behind that was another temple, and yet another one -- complete with a European-style chandelier and a white jade sitting Buddha.
And even behind that temple was a hill for people to climb. Stairs were made into the hill and it was quite the trek. I only made it two-thirds of the way but my friend was determined to make it to the top.
What was up there? Some old folks manning a snack shop.
Today we went back to the university to take a look around and it was a really nice campus. There are lots of trees and greenery, what looks like Dutch architecture mixed with Chinese-style buildings, and some modern interpretations of Chinese roofs. There's even a large performing arts hall being built in the same style.
Most of the buildings are old and living in them is probably a challenge, as I could see one bedroom with a mosquito net around the bed. Underwear hanging outside to dry seems to be a constant theme here.
Nevertheless, it looks like a pleasant campus to be in... except that there are no street lamps. So evenings would be a perilous trip unless you were armed with a flashlight. The only things to guide you are the tree trunks which are partially painted white...