Finding Myself in China: I watched one old man stand next to me and urinate into the garden. I watched a policeman running around trying to catch a street urchin who momentarily took refuge beside me. I watched an official of some sort ask for identity papers of two locals who threw their cigarette butts on the ground and was in the middle of a funny debate with a Tibetan woman about my lack of desire to buy a crucifix, when a policeman appeared and chased her off into the distance.
Touring LeShan Sichuan Summer 2007
by R.P. BenDedek (11:35 AM 2/21/2015 Beijing Time)
This article was originally published on Nov 24, 2007 at Magic City Morning Star News. At that time an Additional Photographs file was created at Kingscalendar, but the original story was never published here. In 2015 in preparation for publication of my book "Finding Myself In China" the file has been edited for spelling and American Grammar points and transferred. Since the additional file contains larger copies of some of the photographs in the original file, most photographs in this file are composites.
Joining up with Mingxing
During the Northern Summer of 2007 I spent three weeks vacationing in Macao and Sichuan. I ended the Macao story by saying that article by saying that 'While my trip from Suzhou to Macao went off without a hitch, when it came time to fly from Shenzhen to Chengdu, that word 'due' took on real significance.' Today, I shall continue where I left off in the last article.
While I was in Macao, Mingxing emailed me to say that his summer job had fallen through, and so I made arrangements to go meet him in Chengdu. Given that I hate planning anything, I simply told him to plan something for us to do, or else wise be prepared to sit with me in a hotel for the duration of my stay. On the morning that I left Macao, I took the hotel shuttle bus to the Ferry Terminal and from there took the ferry to Shenzhen. At the airport I followed all the usual protocols of checking in etc, only to find that a little before our plane was due to board, a sign went up to say that the boarding would commence 10 minutes after the scheduled departure time. Not a big problem, except that come boarding time, there was no plane. When it did arrive, it delivered a full complement of passengers and we had to wait while they disembarked. Then we had to wait while the plane was cleaned and prepared for another journey. Finally we got the green light to board. But just then the rain came down.
We nevertheless boarded to find that it was stifling hot in the cabin. While there was an obvious' repair crew working on the problem, people naturally began to complain. Eventually the stewardess announced over the intercom that the problem would soon be fixed and that by the time we were in the air, we would have cool air inside the aircraft. Two minutes later she announced that the plane was to be grounded for an hour because of storms.
I don't know why it is, but if there is only one person on the plane who is sick, or only one baby on the plane that wants to cry, I am always the person sitting beside them. (Maybe that says something?) At any rate, whilst no one was happy about the delay, one particular gentleman, and I use the worse loosely, began to rant and rave in the loudest and most obnoxious way. You guessed it! He was sitting right beside me. I swear he came as close as only 30 seconds from being 'king hit' and knocked unconscious. This is the same trip I wrote about in Travelling in Exotic China Pt 1 when I wrote:
You know that rule that you can only take one piece of personal luggage onto the plane? Well forget it! Not only do the Chinese carry more than one piece of hand luggage, but on that trip, I witnessed one lady entering the plane carrying 6 bags and dragging one suitcase. The poor attendants were running up and down the aisle trying to find places to put everyone's extra luggage, which included shoving them into the amenities cupboards, and stashing them under seats. Then there were all those people who found that their seats were occupied by others, and had to try and get them back. As they engaged in that activity, they of course blocked the aisle. Most fellow passengers finding their way blocked, did not bother to just wait until the situation was sorted out, but began pushing, shoving and climbing over luggage in the aisle, as though the plane was going to take off before they could get to their own particular seat. The attendants of course put on their best smiles and valiantly tried to keep their cool while they got everyone organized.
When we finally left we were 2 hours late.
With no mobile phone I could not advise Mingxing of my altered circumstances, but nevertheless found him waiting patiently at the Chengdu airport when I arrived. Having previously asked him to check me into an ordinary (cheap) hotel for the night, he had a friend find me one opposite the university and naturally, since I am a foreigner, it was an expensive hotel. It was a very nice and lavish place, but I do now object to paying a 'tourist' rental when I am actually paid in local currency. Give me an ordinary hotel anytime.
The next day we went to the train station to buy tickets to Emei Mountain, but either there were no trains to go there or none that we could catch and so instead we caught the bus to Le Shan in order to see the Giant Buddha located in the cliffs of the river.
Not being a tourist, I am often privileged to witness 'real life' in China and our visit to the railway station in Chengdu was no exception. Being too tired to bother standing in a long queue with Mingxing, I decided to take a seat opposite the entrance to the ticket hall. I really have no idea how long I was there, but gee it was fun. I watched one old man stand next to me and urinate into the garden. I watched a policeman running around trying to catch a street urchin who momentarily took refuge beside me. I watched an official of some sort ask for identity papers of two locals who threw their cigarette butts on the ground and was in the middle of a funny debate with a Tibetan woman about my lack of desire to buy a crucifix, when a policeman appeared and chased her off into the distance.
Eventually I went up the stairs to the entrance to see if I could spot Mingxing, and ran into a family sitting by the front doors. I ended up in a conversation with them and their tiny tots, and had all the bystanders in fits as I taught the children some useful phrases in English, and tried to get the little boy to stand up. Although he held his arms up for me to pick him up, he played dead and so couldn't stand. It was certainly a funny game. When Mingxing arrived I asked him to tell me what the place was that the family had said I should visit and it turned out to be Emei Mountain - the place we were trying to get to.
We left the train station and headed for the bus station where not long afterward we found ourselves on a bus for the short trip to Le Shan City, which as I understand it, is part of Chengdu. At the bus station we were greeted by the usual crowd of taxi drivers and rickshaw drivers and just kept telling them we were not interested. One lady rickshaw driver however rode beside us for some distance, telling us that she would take us to our intended destination for only 2 yuan. The skeptic in me warned that we must be close, or that she had some 'cheating' intention, but lo and behold, she rode that bike strenuously for quite some distance, deftly managing to avoid getting us killed by passing motorists. When we arrived at our lodgings (a place that must never have had a foreign body in it before), I paid the 2 yuan and slipped her another 10 for being a 'nice person.' As we went inside, she said she would wait for us and take us to a nice place for dinner. Well - an hour or two later, after we had freshened up, we indeed found her waiting outside for us, and without wanting extra payment, took us to a nice restaurant. We gave her some cash and walked away from the restaurant she had chosen, and found ourselves a quite 'ordinary' place in an 'out of the way' street. (The extra cash was to make up for the tip she would have been paid by the hotel to which she took us.)
Scenes from the Journey
Photo left: By the Entrance to The Temple on the Mount - Wuyou Temple Photo right: Mingxing and the Buddha - You work out which is which
Below Left Can you imagine climbing this? The Buddha sits between these two photographs Below Right: To the Right of the Buddha is this Goddess.
The following morning (July 22nd) we took a local bus out to the park within which is located the Giant Buddha. When we got off the bus we were approached by locals offering us a 'special tour' for a cheaper fee than if we entered the official park. Mingxing, who is thoroughly adept at researching, was already apprised of the fact that one could indeed bypass the official tour and accept the local tours. It was all 'legit.' Agreeing to the price quoted, we were instructed to get into the rickshaw. Now this was not a motorized rickshaw, it was just a bicycle with carriage on the back, and the driver was just a slender little lady. The road along which we were to travel however was quite obviously 'inclined' - a term that was not applicable to my intention to allow the driver to 'sweat it' trying to get this 90kg chunk of fat up and over that hill. She did however insist that it would be 'no problem' and that we were not to worry about it. Well, without noticing that another couple were embarking on a similar journey just a few meters ahead of us, we boarded the rickshaw, and the little lady began to peddle.
I was dumbfounded. There was just no way that she was going to pull this trick off. Just then, to my utter astonishment, a motorcycle pulled in right beside the rickshaw in front of us, and it's driver, placing one leg firmly on the back of the rickshaw, revved up the engines and rickshaw, passengers and motorbike roared off into the distance. I had barely taken in what I was witnessing when suddenly there was a jolt to our own rickshaw, and we too began speeding up the road. Only in China! About 10 minutes later, after turning off the main road and following a dirt track, we arrived and disembarked at a gateway and bridge and several information signs, one of which related to Wuyou Temple.
Teamwork is good Below Left: a combination of 'ages' Below Right: The Emperor and his subjects
Above Left was taken only because my name means 'horse.' Above Right is your truly looking for a place to lay down
Sign at LeShan Wuyou Temple (Textual errors included.)
Wuyou Temple, Sitting in green and wetersurrounded Wuyou Hill, was built in the year of Zhide (75AD) in the Tang Dynasty. Enjoying a history of over 1200 years, it is part of the UN-named natural and cultural heritage and the State-protected scenic spot. It is also a key site of relics of the country and an important temple open to the outside world.
In the temple, there are many places of cultural and historical interest. Tianwang (Heavenly Kings) Hall, Guanyin Hall, Wuyou Hall and the Arhat Hall are solemn in ancient style, Kuangyi Pavilion is charm and elegant. On Erya Terrace you can overlook the river, while in Tingtao Pavilion, you can enjoy the music of the current. If you want to see how the three rivers meet go to Jingyun Pavilion; to enjoy flowers, butterflies and singing birds, go to the Plum Garden. What is mostly worth mentioning is that it is the temple and the hill on which it stands that form the hesd of the Giant Sleeping Buddha.
Here and there in the temple, you can see wonderful poems and tablets left by scholars in the history. Travelors and worshipers of Buddhism come and go busily, all attracted by the monk's recitation of the scriptures and the beautiful scenery.
This is but a temple in a lively hill surrounded by beautiful rivers. On hearing the morningbell and evening drum, watching the glowing incense, and thinking of the temple's location on the head of the Giant Sleeping Buddha, one cannot help leaving himself deep in the thought or ancient civilization.
Now I have to confess, I don't know if the one and only temple we went to was the Wuyou Temple or not, but irrespective of that, the first place we went to was a museum and some caves.
Below Left: A Marvelous Bridge - I love this photo Right: I think this is the entrance to the museum
Left: A Big Bell and a Wood Coffin (No! I did not look inside!) A rich man's tomb - 'up from the grave he arose' I suppose!
Mahao Tomb Cave
During the East Han Dynasty, a special burial custom came into fashion in Sichuan province. The graves were dug into the hills thus came the name of Tomb Caves. The Mahao (placename) Tomb Caves are located at the cliff between Wuyou and Lingyun hills. Within the 0.1 sq kilometers there are about 500 tombs, look like honecomb. The decorative engravings and the stone inscription in the tomb are of great historical and artistic value. It is a key part of LeShan Grand Buddha Scenery Area, the national key cultural relic and the world cultural and natural heritages.
After our tour of the caves and burial chambers, we headed back to the bridge where we exchanged guides and began our ascent up the mountain with a sturdy Chinese Male guide. All the way up the mountain side one could see empty rock hewn burial chambers.
A Brief Introduction to LeShan Cave Tombs
The cave tombs, which were carved in the cliff, were popular in Sichuan in the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties. The Cave Tombs in LeShan were typical for their huge scale, great number and excellent design.
In the Han Dynasty, there were many salt and iron mines in LeShan. With convenient transportation, the area developed fast in economy, and this helped to lay a material foundation for its rich burial cutoms.
There are thousands of cave tombs in LeShan. Many of them are distributed in hills by the river, with the city suburbs as the center. In Mahao, there are hundreds of such tombs. In ancient times, it was a general custom to bury the dead of a family in one tomb, The cave tomb usually has passages, seperated coffin chambers and kitchens. Some of the coffins are pottery, others are made from wood or stone. The funerary objects, such as human, bird and animal figures, inscriptions, pottery model buildings and iron and bronze wares, are placed according to the real living conditions of the dead. The vivid pottery figures demonstrate the recreation activities of the Han people, some talking and singing, and others playing musical instruments. The model kitchens, dogs and horses all look similar to those of the living.
There are sculptures, paintings and inscriptions in and on the gate and walls of the tomb and the coffins as well. Some are portraits of lucky birds and strange animals. Some tell historical stories. Some describe the procedure of big barquets. In some inscriptions, the names of the dead and the carving date of the tomb are recorded. The relics in the tombs show that the people in the Han Dynasty were talented in painting and pottery making. Their artistic skills are a heritage to the artists of our time.
LeShan cave tombs have presented us a vivid picture of the life of the people in the Han Dynasty, which is valuable for our study of the past.
Below left is the entrance to the 'underground' caves. Below Right is a photo taken from the Temple Mount
And here we have the Wuyou Temple
Not far up the mountainside, we came to the tourist traps - er - I mean souvenir stands. It was here that I did something that I have always wanted to do, but about which I always felt a little shy. I paid for the privilege of wearing traditional Chinese apparel. Not ordinary apparel mind you! Not for this foreigner. I fulfilled a lifelong ambition to be a 'King.'
I had no sooner donned the robes when a man with two kids came by. Without any prompting, the little boy ran up to me and Kowtowed and gave me the greeting appropriate for a Chinese Emperor - 'Wan Sui!, Wan Sui! Wan Wan Sui!' (May you live 10,000 years and ten times that! - Heaven forbid!)
They were wonderful little kids with whom I took several pictures, and it is unfortunate that I didn't get their contact address so that I could send them some copies. After chatting with them a little while, we proceeded on our way to the top of the mountain where we rested a while - I was out of breath - and then proceeded to visit the sites that it contained.
I think from memory the term is 'Ar hat' temple - not sure - but there was one of those there. It's a temple that contains myriads of Buddhas and teachers, each one in a different position. When we finished our tour we headed back down, almost as quickly as we had ascended. Back at the bridge, we dined 'al fresco' amongst some banana trees. Despite the surroundings and the distance to the actual restaurant kitchen it was a marvelous experience which was enhanced by meeting up with the kids with whom I had taken some photos earlier. As the food was arriving, the two kids appeared and I spent about 15 minutes chatting with the little boy. I have no idea where he came from, but his Mandarin was spoken with an excellent accent. I should be so lucky. I speak Mandarin with a 'country bumpkin' accent.
With lunch over, we returned by the way we had arrived. Upon arrival back at the entrance to the main park, our rickshaw driver collected our agreed upon fees and promptly went off and got us our tickets for the riverboat cruise to the Giant Buddha. Those poor saps who did the touristy thing had to first climb up and then down the jolly mountain to stand immediately in front of the Buddha.
We had the best view, although not without effort from the boat's captain. It had been flooding all over Sichuan that previous week, and the river current was running furiously. It seemed that he had the engine at full throttle just so that we could 'hold position' to get good views and take even better photographs.
When our tour came to an end, we caught a local bus back to our lodgings, and took a walk around the town. Not far from where we were staying was a big park in which the 'SNOW' beer company was holding special events including a concert. We took a wander around, listening to the musical performances and comedy sketches. At one point I had to stop and ask Mingxing if I had understood the artist correctly. 'Yes!' he said, and he not only called '----(nationality)--- (bad names) --- but the police as well!'
I have heard such things expressed privately, but never so publically. I was a little shocked, although not quite as shocked as most people seemed to be at the appearance of a foreigner. Taking the next day off for a rest, we went back to the park and took a few photos. The following day we took the bus to Mt. Emei - the most Divine place in China so far. But for that story, you will have to wait.
Daytime scenes from the park in which the concert was held.
Above Right: is a shot of the river with city in the background
I hope you have enjoyed this story and these photos.
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!
The presence of a foreigner, in drawing the usual inquisitive response, also resulted in a stern admonition from the proprietor to the workers to return to their station. Not before I managed to get some photos however. This complex is a genuine operating place of worship, that abounds in monks and other religious persons. It has both very old temples, and some very new ones, some of which are not even completed yet. Additional Photographs
(2007) Really, we only went there to eat pizza at Carole's Restaurant, but noting a few changes in the area, decided to take a few new shots. From the vantage point on the upstairs balcony of the restaurant, I started off the process by taking photos of people in the street who kept pointing out the foreigner
I watched one old man stand next to me and urinate into the garden. I watched a policeman running around trying to catch a street urchin who momentarily took refuge beside me. I watched an official of some sort ask for identity papers of two locals who threw their cigarette butts on the ground and was in the middle of a funny debate with a Tibetan woman about my lack of desire to buy a crucifix, when a policeman appeared and chased her off into the distance. Additional Photographs from LeShan
The Sichuan region is designated as a global hotspot for biodiversity, ... 12,000 species of plants and 1,122 species of vertebrates, the area includes more than half of the habitat for the Earth's wild giant panda population. The photographs displayed here were actually taken in 2006.
Mt. Emei is 3000 metres high, and one can avail oneself of several or all of a variety of methods of ascending and descending the mountain. From a hard slog hike, to an easy access bus ride and from being carried in a cable car to being carried in a 'jampan' (sedan chair) by locals, there are a variety of ways to get around. As a foreigner, I was given special treatment, and the normal price of 220 rmb per night at the hotel, was reduced to just 140 rmb (which was just twice the price that other guests we spoke to had paid.) Additional Mt. Emei Files: 1)Climbing Mt.Emei2)Top of Mt.Emei3)Following the Baoxian Stream
I had so many photographs from Chengdu, that I created this special file to display just a particular aspect of the beauty of Wuhou Temple: Chengdu: SiChuan Art and Flowers. This file contains no commentary.
The Relic Exhibition Hall is the most important Part of Du Fu Thatched Cottage Park. It is located on the site of Du Fu's former Residence. In the late winter of 759, Du Fu went to Chengdu to avoid the disasters caused by An Lushan Shi Rebellion. In the next year, he built a thatched cottage on the bank of the beautiful Huanhua Brook, where he lived for four years and wrote more than 240 poems.
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.
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.
It is uncertain what caused the following event, but something on the pylon hit one of the windows. The people in the immediate vicinity fled their seats, and as the ship continued reversing, the window buckled and smashed, sending shards of glass everywhere. One man received a cut to his arm, and while not bleeding profusely, nevertheless was bleeding. A young boy was covered in glass, and although unhurt, had to be deftly 'de-glassed.' I felt someone's hand on my back pocket. Always cautious, I was walking with my hands in my pockets, specifically to keep the cloth on the seat of my pants tight. I tightened my grip. When this did not seem to discourage the brazen (and inept) thief, I quickly sidestepped to the left, and left him both surprised and embarrassed. He dropped his head so I could not see his face, and quickly retracted the jacket that had covered his hand to conceal his actions. He disappeared quickly.
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]