Finding Myself in China: After following the pathway around the mountain we were faced with a choice of either a path downward or a trail upward. We chose the upward trail, and hoped to find something. After climbing over boulders and headed in the direction of some boys sitting atop one, we arrived at a spectacular viewpoint. We had an almost 360 degree view of Mudu. While we were marveling at the view before us, I heard a few voices off in the distance behind us. When I turned to look, I was surprised to find that there was a ridge there, completely jam packed with people taking in the 'better view.'
This article was first published at Magic City Morning Star on Nov 29, 2007. In preparation for publication of my book "Finding Myself in China" this file has been transferred to Kingscalendar.com. The article has undergone some reediting. I have carried across most of the photographs in the original file and added more.
Off to Mudu with the Boys
Last weekend, Albert (English teacher from the Philippines), Jerry (Formerly from Shandong, now working in SuZhou) and I, went off to Mudu to climb a mountain. We went to Lingyan Shan in Mudu (one of the towns belonging to SuZhou). We climbed a hill / mountain to visit a pagoda there. I had already been there last June with Chiara Braccagni (Italian teacher from Udine). Whilst on this occasion, we only climbed the mountain, Chiara and I had first visited the Hua Yuan garden, located next door.
The Gateway to Lingshan & Pagoda
Those two shifty characters on the right side standing by the gate are Jerry and Albert
Scenes from the Huayuan next door
The Hua Yuan cost something (can't remember) to get in and was a nice peaceful tourist attraction. At least one of the buildings there was the former residence of someone special - but who? - again can't remember. Chiara and I had followed a hillside walkway from that garden and found ourselves near the entrance to Lingyan Shan, and having no idea where we were, we decided to take a look around. We had picked the hottest day of the year to do this trip, and it took it's toll. By the time we reached the summit, I was too exhausted to enter the temple, choosing instead to recuperate outside. On this occasion with the boys however, the weather was cooler, and I was ready to explore a little.
We arrived at Mudu travelling the same route Chiara and I had taken. But at that time, there was nothing special about the season. Little did I know that every man and his dog wanted to go climb mountains last weekend. We had taken the number 406 bus to the end of its route, and then waited for a number 4 'tourist' bus. But every bus including the number 4 tourist bus was full. We spent over an hour waiting to be able to fit into a passing bus. Needless to say, we arrived in Mudu later than planned.
The walk up the mountain started out by following a 'roadway.' After a turn or two it took us past an Indian 'Buddha' shrine. There were people praying and bowing and lighting incense, and of course many more just taking photos. Later on our way back, on the path above the shrine we saw a religious pilgrim. Bowing, kneeling, praying, standing and taking one more step before repeating the process, he had obviously come a long way already, and had a long way yet to go.
A Steep Climb The right frame photo was taken from inside the complex looking out toward the entrance. That path leads to the mountain top.
Below Top Frames you can see the Buddha and the guy doing obeisance
From the shrine we had quite a steep climb up a set of stairs that led up to the temple. These stairs were located on something like a narrow land-bridge between two peaks. The views were really good, but as we were to discover, they were to get even better. When we arrived at the temple, we did not immediately go in. On the previous occasion with Chiara, we had followed lots of people who seemed to be going somewhere. But after leaving the pathway and climbing some rocks, the heat became too much and we abandoned the chase. We returned to the temple, where I sat on the fence and tried to cool down.
On this occasion I was determined to discover what lay at the end of the line. What we discovered took our breath away. After following the pathway around the mountain we were faced with a choice of either a path downward or a trail upward. We chose the upward trail, and hoped to find something. After climbing over boulders and headed in the direction of some boys sitting atop one, we arrived at a spectacular viewpoint. We had an almost 360 degree view of Mudu. While we were marveling at the view before us, I heard a few voices off in the distance behind us. When I turned to look, I was surprised to find that there was a ridge there, completely jam packed with people taking in the 'better view.'
Below Top Right is one of the views from the mountain top.
Below Bottom Frames are the same picture
Left Another view from mountain top Right One section enlarged showing Stupid people climbing mountains.
Same Photo Below Showing just one section in which people are riding horses
Below - Another View Mountains in China lead a precarious life.
The appearance of a foreigner anywhere is enough to get tongues wagging, and even more so when the foreigner interrupts them to correct there incorrect statements. "I'm not a foreigner! I am from Xinjiang! I'm Chinese. This friend is Japanese (that's Jerry the Chinese boy) and this one is Philippino (Albert)." - Jerry is good fun at times because he will play along and pretend not to understand any Chinese. Well, after the obligatory conversations and photo shoots with the locals, and after taking our own round of photos of each other standing on the highest peak, we set off back toward the temple.
In reaching the peak we had passed a multi-storey large building with windows and bars through which we could see lots and lots of alabaster type boxes. Not being gifted with much natural intelligence, I thought it was some type of 'treasury' of antiques. Jerry told us that it was the place that dead people live. There was at least one other such building on the mountain. Last time I was there, Chiara and I had assumed that because there were a number of nuns around the place, that it was a nunnery. But Jerry said it too was where the cremated remains of individuals are stored.
Top right - one of those funery buildings
Above left: That is a well. Wells, small and large are a common site in China.
Below The monastery is the high building on the right. The little building is the 'little house' but you need 'smella-vision' to appreciate it.
When we arrived back at the temple area, we paid our 1 rmb and entered. It was not quite what I had expected - perhaps because Chiara never did show me the photos that she took inside. One enters through an actual temple with big ugly statues of Indian gods. Naturally there is also the obligatory 'golden Buddhas.' One then enters a courtyard surrounded by buildings. Directly opposite is another temple, but the buildings to the left and right are various activity rooms. This is a 'real' monastery in which monks study, work, pray and live. The complex consists of several levels running up the mountainside, and has gardens, (flowers and vegetables), wells, rockeries, and meditative areas. Were it not for the crowds of people, this would truly be a beautiful place to live.
When I was at Emeishan, I met Mark Halperin, (UC Davis) an expert on Buddhism, who explained to me the difference between Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism. He explained that Chinese Buddhism is less concerned with austerity than the Tibetan form. He explained that traditionally the Chinese monastery is actually a community center for the local village or town. I therefore imagine that times past were not much different to today, with hordes of people and kids congregating around the temple areas.
Below Scenes from within the monastery complex
Below Left Frames are from Outside Below Right Frames are from inside
Below Bottom Right is taken from outside The Rest are taken from inside
The bottom right photo above shows the area from which I took the photo on the right of the triptyche. I had pointed out that the path leads up to the peak. In this photo we are looking the other way - the way down.
I don't know if the monks in these places 'sense' that I personally don't like Buddhist monks very much (I have had some nasty experiences with them at times), but they never look at me with anything like 'courtesy' let alone friendliness. One smiles at them, and they just stare. My own personal take on monks is that they are the 'superior people of the superior race,' and as such, represent the worst element in Chinese society. (Oh I can just hear the PC screams at reading that! See Footnote) At any rate, the monastery complex was surely a lovely place to visit.
I met as many people who stared and pointed at me as wanted to talk to me. Of course they paid no attention to Albert, who they figured to be Chinese. It's quite funny really how some people will look at the foreigner and then stare at the 'Chinese' as though demanding to know 'What are you doing with THAT.' Despite all the nice pictures that one takes of such places as this, the worst elements can never really be captured on film. The place needed a good clean up and definitely some repairs. Then again, given all the ups-and-downs of Chinese history, and the bias against 'clergy' living off the general community, I guess it must not be such an easy life for these guys.
If you ever get out this way to SuZhou, then Mudu is a very easily accessed spot to visit. The number 4 tourist bus (which took us back to town) ran along Ren Min Road past the Guan Qian Walking Street. This is the central area for tourism in SuZhou, so it shouldn't be hard to find a bus stop and take a ride out to Mudu. There are quite a number of places at Mudu, and they are currently revamping the OLD town of Mudu, and it is going to look really nice.
Below Top Frames Walking past the little house on the way to the peak Below Bottom Frames On the Peak
Below Top Left This shot is of people walking past the entrance to the monastery 30 meters further on is the 'little house' Then you have a good walk to the top. Take the right fork and go directly there. Take the left fork and see some more sites
The other three frames above show that the monastery is also a 'living' community of people. They grow a lot of their own food and live ordinary lives
After we returned to earth from climbing the mountain, we got off the beaten track and went into a back lane to have a nice lunch in a common restaurant, the owners of which fell over backward at seeing a foreigner so far from the tourist trail.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this story and these pictures.
Have a nice day!
You can see other pics and read other comment in a site called: Year in Suzhou Blogspot. See Part 1 and also see Part 2.
Additional Photo - Note Top Right
When I was going through the photo file I noticed this boy in a number of photos and remembered why I took the photo top right. This boy followed us up the mountain. When we stopped he stopped. When we waited, he waited. He was stalking us. He is in the background of a number of photos. I have had this experience numerous times in China. (When Chiara and I were there it was a girl in the background shots) The photo top right was designed to let this boy know that I knew he was trailing us.
There was a boy in Wuhan once who did the same thing. I was with a few people and we did a number of things just to test whether or not he was actually following us. We we finally went to enter a coffee shop I commented that the boy would not be able to follow us in so the Lady in the group turned around walked over to the boy and invited him to join us for ice cream. And he accepted! We became good friends.
Footnote -- Monks:
The Chinese will tell you to be careful of monks. Many are fake. Many are merely 'employed.' I had my worst experiences (as in more than one) of fake monks in Hangzhou but I am not going to talk about them. I now know better than to trust any monk in China. Local people know which are genuine and which are not.
Now I can't remember upon which trip it was to Lingyanshan that I was sitting on the fence outside of the temple, waiting for a friend to return to me, when I spotted a fat monk up in the courtyard staring at me. He had a cigarette dangling from his mouth, and his foot was up on the railing. The moment he put his cigarette out and started walking I just knew he was headed for me. And I was not wrong.
On this occasion however he came up to me and greeted me and welcomed me to China as he held out his hand. He turned out to be a really lovely guy and I had a great time talking with him.
When you stand to speak you are doing more than reciting words. You are in fact engaged in communicating with an audience your opinions, ideas, feelings, passions and/or knowledge on a subject. They expect you to express yourself with feeling and passion and to actually know what you are talking about. Therefore it is essential that you KNOW what you are talking about – and – show the appropriate body language, gestures, actions and emotions associated with your topic.
The kids used to turn up repeatedly throughout the day just to look at the foreigner, touch him, feel the hair on his (the monkey’s) arms and generally just gawk. China has changed a lot over the years but there have been times when a foreigner in a small town or village would attract huge crowds. Sometimes people would be known to suddenly come upon you, look up at your face and just plain scream! I’m not joking!
Toward the end of dinner, some children spotted the foreigner and began coming to the door to say 'hello' 'hello' 'hello,' as they do, and then one little girl entered the room and handed out candy to us all. That was a first, as too was the cappuccino that I drank at a coffee house after dinner. I could swear it was an espresso. Ah! What would a foreigner know! Next morning we headed off to our next destination, the major places of interest of which (according to the 100 rmb entry ticket) are, Little Lotus Villa, Home of Zhang Shiming, Jiaye Library, Qiushuli Place, Home of Liu Tiqing and Ancient Stone Bridges. Additional Photographs
Well to cut a long story short, I walked all the bloody way to Tiger Hill. With Sweat pouring off me I finally met up with Chen Rongmei who had telephoned 'Meimei' to come and help look for me. The two of them had apparently been driving all over the place looking for me. Hot and exhausted, the three of us sat down in a little cafe, under an air conditioner, and cooled off while we ate a very nice 'overpriced' lunch. After lunch the three of us did the tour of HuQiu, and while I really loved the place, the heat of the day combined with all that walking (before and during sightseeing) gave me an awful headache. All I wanted to do was rest. I even considered booking back into my hotel! See Also:Cycling Around Tiger Hill Area SuZhouandTiger Hill Additional Photographs
Hanshan Temple Suzhou by R.P. BenDedek Various Dates
This Stele is made of Shandong Jiaxiang Blue Stone, and composed of stele cap, stele body and stele pedestal. Its facade is engraved with Zhang Ji's (Tang Dynasty) poem To Moor at Night at the Maple Bridge inscribed by Yu Yue (Qing Dynasty); while the back is engraved with The Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra in Sanskrit) handwritted by Emperor Qianlong (Qing Dynasty).
Dr. Ben-Shahar made a statement to the effect that people need to understand that it is from the journey itself that we derive pleasure, not the destination. In order to find balance in life, people must stop and take time out to look at the day's events, and see the joy that was in it. Far too often we only reflect on flaws and failures, rather than on joys and successes. True happiness is found in the many small moments in our lives, and we have to remind ourselves daily of all the things we are grateful for and appreciate.
After following the pathway around the mountain we were faced with a choice of either a path downward or a trail upward. We chose the upward trail, and hoped to find something. After climbing over boulders and headed in the direction of some boys sitting atop one, we arrived at a spectacular viewpoint. We had an almost 360 degree view of Mudu. While we were marveling at the view before us, I heard a few voices off in the distance behind us. When I turned to look, I was surprised to find that there was a ridge there, completely jam packed with people taking in the 'better view.'
The Garden of Couple's Retreat. Located on the northeastern edge of the ancient city of SuZhou, the garden was first created in the early Qing period as a pleasure garden of Baoning Prefect Lu Jingzhi. In the 13th year of Tong ZhiReign (1874 AD), Shen Bingcheng, governor of Susongtai Region, acquired it and expanded it into the present scale.The park is located by one of the major canals on the North / East side of SuZhou. It is not far from the Old Water Gate, and right behind it is the SuZhou Zoo. I have been in YanCheng now for 6 months and no longer have a map of SuZhou from which to give precise directions. The entrance looks great from the overpass, but otherwise you wouldn't know it is there. I did take some photos of it at night when I was on the canal tour. That tour leaves from 'ShiLu' which is the 'small' walking street - not Guanqian Jie which is the big walking street.
Now I am not going to repeat the title here, but it showed a room in which plant roots are used to grow new plants. Unfortunately, whilst the caption may have been strictly correct in an Agricultural context, the words also constituted a very vulgar idiomatic expression in English. As the particular slide lit up on the big screen, there was an audible gasp from numerous people (including Chiara and I), followed by muted laughing and serious attempts by individuals not to break into hysterics.
Moving to Suzhou by R.P. BenDedek February 21, 2015 (2007 Magic City Article transferred to Kingscalendar)
I had been told many times that if I could be a successful teacher in Hubei, then I would find it so easy to teach elsewhere in China. I never understood what that meant, until I came here. These kids are a joy to teach, even though their English level is no better than the kids in Hubei. It really feels like I have been transported to a different country.
Traduzione di Chiara Braccagni: Nel 2005 mi sono trasferito a Wuhan da Hong Hu, in modo da poter insegnare inglese e allo stesso tempo imparare il cinese. Tuttavia, dopo due anni a Wuhan, avevo seguito solo un semestre di studio del cinese. Avevo accettato il lavoro di insegnante a Wuhan ad uno stipendio minore rispetto a quanto mi era stato offerto da altri istituti, in modo da mettere in pratica il cinese che impraravo in un dialetto che mi fosse familiare. Quando ho richiesto all'agenzia di trovarmi un nuovo lavoro per il 2007 ho messo in chiaro che lo stipendio era la mia priorita.' Sebbene il governo cinese avesse decretato che gli insegnanti stranieri potevano ritornare a casa in anticipo lo scorso semestre, cosi' da trascorrere il Natale con le loro famiglie (decisione resa possible dalle anticipate festivita' del capodanno cinese) la mia scuola non mi ha lasciato partire. Infatti, una clausola mi obbligava a rimanere a scuola fino all'ultimo giorno del mio contratto. E cosi' ho fatto (e sto ancora aspettando lo stipendio che mi devono).
I have to say it was a great honor to meet him, an honor that might have had more significance had I only known in which of the photo ops I actually did meet him. I'm guessing it was the guy who had both an English and Japanese translator trailing him.... Turning the camera on, I raised it and began to focus the lens. Just then a wave slapped against the side of the boat and my friends and I got drenched as water spurted up and in through the open window. By the time I recovered, wiped the lens dry, got the camera working, and focused, I had little time left to do a reasonable video, and no time at all to take any more still photographs.
I can say that the new computer cost me half of what I had expected to pay, and the money saved will almost pay for a special trip I'm planning to the other side of the country in October. We had our conversation on a Tuesday at about 11.45am at the end of March, and two days later on the Thursday, I picked up my brand new computer already loaded with all my programs. It also came with a gift of some high definition movies (Mr. Kang is able to provide 1500 HD Movies on an external hard drive.) If you are coming to Suzhou and you really NEED to buy a new computer, go talk to him. Maybe you just need some repairs - he'll fix you up. Maybe you want some High Definition Movies - he's the one to talk to. -and-Computer Repairs in SuZhou City Jiangsu Province Nov 7, 2011
I ran into Jian up at Shi Lu one night, just before the Americans left town. We had a long talk about the fact that he was wasting his life; that his parents really just wanted him to apply himself equally to Chinese and Math studies, as to his English Studies. When I left him, I thought that maybe he was finally going to go home. I spoke to him about the parable of the Prodigal Son and asked him to get the Americans to explain it
Since 2004 he has been writing academic articles, social commentaries and photographic 'Stories from China' both here at KingsCalendar, and formerly as a contributing columnist at Magic City Morning Star News (Maine USA) where from 2009 to 2015 he was Stand-in Editor. He currently has a column at iPatriot.com and teaches English to Business English and Flight Attendant College Students in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province People's Republic of China.)
BenDedek originally created the site to publicize his research results into the Chronology of Ancient Israel. Those results were published under the title: 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran.' Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the chronological riddle of the Bible's synchronisms of reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and their synchronism with other Ancient Near Eastern Nations, no other research is based on a simple mathematical formula which could, if it is incorrect, be disproved easily. To date, no one has been able to dismiss the mathematical results of this research.
Free to air Academic articles set forth Apologetics for and results of his discovery of an "artificial chronological scheme" running through the Bible, Josephus, the Damascus Documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Seder Olam Rabbah. Check the Chapter Precis Page to see details of each chapter and to gain access to the Four Free to Air Chapters
(The Download book does not contain a section on Seder Olam)
Definition: King's Calendar Chronological Research
The Premise: Between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE (but continuing down to at least 104 BCE), Sectarian redactors transcribed the legitimate 'solar year' chronological records of Israel and Judah, into an artificial form, with listed years as each comprised of 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days, or 336 days per year, thus creating a 13th artificial year where 12 solar years existed.
When the Synchronous Chronological Data provided in the Books of Kings and Chronicles for the Divided Kingdom Period are measured in years of 336 days, the synchronisms actually align. [Refer to Appendix 5. to see how it synchronises the Divided Kingdom Period]