Wednesday, November 12, 2008

day..something+1: Qi Xia Temple

I must fit in one last temple visit in NanJing haha. The second day in NanJing, we went to Qi Xia Mountain. It is another famous mountain in NanJing, but it is a little bit out of the way since most of the people go visit Zhong Shan mountain. We decided to go because this mountain is covered in Maple trees, and by November they are usuallly fiery red so it made for a beautiful hike. Alas, when we got there, there were no red maples to be found. Apparently Nanjing was uncommonly hot this year and the trees don't turn red until a chill so we were thwarted. We even hiked half way up the mountain as M was determined to see some red leaves. But we didn't make it as the sun was so hot. -_-!!!

Set at the bottom of the mountain is Qi Xia Temple, A buddhist temple built in AD 489. It also houses the National Buddhist school so it's a very serious place and not that touristy. It was kind of ironic though because as I walked in, there are red banners everywhere from different associations saying "best wishes to the Qi XIa Maple Festival opening success". Considering how crazy the weather is I find that highly unlikely hahah. We also encountered a memorial ceremony going on in the temple in the back. It is a tradition where the grieving family asks the monks to pray over the deceased so that he can go in peace. I have never actually seen one in person so I took a peek at a respectful distance. The family had traditional paper stuff to burn so that the deceased can use it in the afterlife. In addition to the normal "mountain of gold", "mountain of silver". They also had a two story house, complete with furniture and decorations, and a garage with a car inside. It is a fascinating insight into the convergence between tradition and modernity.

After this visit, we again had a banquet on the river of the QingHuai River (where the famous FPS checkpoint doorway was lol). QingHuai river is famous for its night scenery. It has a night market and it is the favorite spot for all the tourists. They did not allow any tall buildings to be built around the area, and no cars are allowed inside so it is a little space of rest( but not peace haha) in the middle of the big city. The restaurant is called "family on the QingHuai". They have live performances while you eat and they are famous for a 16 course meal where they introduce you to NanJing cuisine (in very small dishes hehe).

Unfortunately, after we got home, we learned that during the weekend, the D trains are going into maintenance, and they are cutting 8000 seats everyday. In the panic of not finding tickets later, we decided to return to ChangZhou the very next day, and called my cousin in ChangZhou to buy train tickets to ShangHai. It turned out to be a great idea as my cousin called back and said that there were only 5 seats left for the train 3 days later.

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