Part Two has arrived.
So we left off at me not-so-gracefully getting back down the mountain. After having dinner with Farmer Chen’s family, including an adorable little baby boy, we got back on the bus. Fortunately, we knew that the ride was only going to be about an hour and a half. I fell asleep probably as soon as I sat down. When I woke up, we were back to civilization. Hangzhou looked gorgeous at night. But I couldn’t really appreciate it as much as I could. All I could think about was a comfy bed and the hottest shower possible.
The hotel we stayed at was very nice (western toilet, thank God) and it didn’t take me very long before I was in my pajamas and in bed. The next morning we walked to a bakery close by. A French bakery. I took a moment to realize that I was globalization in action: An American in Hongzhou, China eating at a French bakery holding a Japanese made phone. But it was really good French pastry. We took our breakfast in little baggies so we could continue to walk around the city. After a few blocks we turned the corner to find a lake. That’s right, a HUGE lake right in the middle of a bustling city. After some bargaining and arguing, we were able to get a boat ride on the lake for apparently a lot cheaper than they usually give. A mid-morning boat ride on a lake was exactly what we needed. It was still a cultural experience and still being relaxing.
After walking around a little bit more, we decided to go to Lingyin Temple, which is a famous Buddhist Temple right in downtown Hangzhou. I had never been to a temple before, so I had no idea what to expect. Maybe some big Buddha statues? We walked in to find all different kinds of hill engravings into rock. Most of them were different gods, some depicted stories, some depicted warriors. What was the most beautiful was how people reacted to the engravings. Buddhists would go up to an engraving, light incense, put a hand on the engraving and start into deep prayer. All around the hills and little caves were piles upon piles of incense. We moved onto the first temple. Of course taking pictures was strictly forbidden, but I will definitely remember what I saw for the rest of my life. There was an ENORMOUS golden statue of Buddha surrounded with what looked like golden flowers, boxes, and different gifts. It was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it before. We continued onto three more smaller temples; all full of huge statues of different gods and deities. Thousands upon thousands of people were there, worshipping, praying, burning incense, or simply staring at the awesome symbol in front of them.
As we were walking out, there was a small store with little trinkets and tourist-y type things. There was a counter with all different kinds of bracelets, some with little charms and Buddhas on them, others just plain. There was one that stuck out to me; it was a bracelet that you wrap multiple times around your wrist with two little yellow stones and a charm on the end. Even though it is now two weeks later, people always comment on it and say “You know that means good luck and serenity? Its very pretty.” I plan on treasuring it always :)