Published: March 19th 2012March 18th 2012
White Horse Temple
Entrance to White Horse Temple.
Our first bus ride since arriving in China is to White Horse Temple. But first we have to eat. We succumb to a guilty pleasure that we have walked past several times: McDonald's...the one that sells hamburgers (as opposed to the one that just sells ice cream). The girl who is working the counter knows a tiny bit of English. She quickly whips out a hand-held menu to help us make our selections. The burger tastes exactly the same as the states. The fries look exactly the same. Julie and I both agreed though that they had a "been in the freezer a long time" taste. The small soda was actually a small soda which in the USA is a kids' size these days.
Yes we have been stuck-up taxi folks until today. Our interpreter, Kelly, helps us navigate the bus system and get on the correct buses. We take a bus to Old Town and then switch buses to get to White Horse Temple. The second bus exits us from the hustling city to more suburban living. The buildings are low rise, mixed-use structures with part business and part residence. There are also many fenced in courtyard type structures
where we think larger or extended families might live. The entrances look like garage doors and many of them are quite ornate. The road turns to cement as opposed to the asphalt we are used to in the city. There are more rural vehicles like occasional tractors and front loaders. And don't forget the ever present, dust cloud producing, road construction in preparation (which we are now questioning if it’s really all) for the peony festival. There's no way all this is going to be done in less than a month!
At the main gate of the White Horse Temple, there are many vendors selling burning sticks which appear to be used during worship. They seem in dismay that we don't make a purchase. Once inside, there is a large courtyard with many vendors selling tourist mementos and treasures. After passing through the admissions gate, we come to an area where there are supposed to be lots of turtles. But it’s a cold day on the edge of winter and so none are to be seen.
Two horse statues summons us to go inside the greenest area we have seen since leaving the states. Very old trees, grasses,
shrubs and rows of peonies are a pleasant change from the city views. There are many houses with religious statues, kneeling pillows, prayers and tourists. Each house is different but somehow the same. Outside there are interesting statues with no English explanation.
Once we steer through all of the Buddha houses, there is an Indian-style temple in the process of being built. It looks like it will be breath-taking once completed. A little further down is a recently completed replica of Sanchi Stupa which is said to be the oldest structure in India. This building looks constructed to good building standards that we haven't seen anywhere since leaving Beijing. There are interesting photos of places in India with English subtitles.
Once back to the city, we go directly to our daily injection of baby wonderfulness. Chinese Grandfather prepares us an interesting soup of pork and veggies. This is the first soup without noodles but instead, thick pancake-type bread that we break up and put into the soup.
Up next, preparing for our trip to Xi'an, Shaanxi Province & the Clay Solders.
There are more photos below