Being a Buddhist is too much work...

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October 13th 2011
Published: October 18th 2011
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Day two in Putuoshan.

If you look at this island in the travel books, they will tell you that the scenery is lovely, but the food is nothing to write home about. Well, this is me writing home about food that is not worth the effort! After deciding to skip breakfast in the hotel because of the expense/attraction ratio, we went back to the same place we ate the night before, and it was pretty weak. I'd describe it further, but unless you like fried bread, sticky buns, peanuts and spicy pickled green something for breakfast, you wouldn't be that thrilled. If that's your thing, email me.

Sated with our least satisfying breakfast to date (the hotel in Shanghai has us all spoiled with its buffet), we headed out to see as much of the island as we could. The island is small, so at first that just meant walking... down towards the Southern tip, and then choosing a path. We chose the one that took us towards the Guan Yin statue, which I had an interest in seeing, just because it's big (a little over 100' tall) and its gold, and it's revered. We ended up not going right up to it (I don't usually have much interest in viewing very big things from directly below them), but instead to another path from which it is said a particular deity embarked on a search for enlightenment and left her footprint on a rock. We didn't see a footprint, but the ocean was nice, in its dark muddy way, and I do like to watch people visit holy sites.

From there we trekked up the hill, then caught a bus to take us to the other end of the island, past the two beaches to the base of a cable car that takes you up the mountain. Datri was feeling claustrophobic, so before we moved through the crowds to the cable car, we scooted across the street to a newer temple/structure. This one is basically all new construction being built around a sacred cave, and it's pretty spectacular. It has many levels, so each time you pass through or past one part, you climb more steps to get to another one... the statues of the various gods here were the most interesting that I've seen in the entire trip, and despite the possible offense, I did snap some photos of the inside. This is a weirdly touchy thing - in some places no one seems to mind pictures being taken, and tourists snap away, but in other temples it seems to be forbidden. Usually if it seems there is a chance I will offend someone with my camera, I keep it to myself, but the inside of this was cool enough to document, so I did, and got a stern warning after the 5th or 6th shot. Sorry!

From there, steps led to each successively deeper layer, and new things along the way. A large white stone wall carved into various figures, several other smaller buildings, and atop the hill, a four story structure that was still under construction on the inside. It took a lot of climbing to see it all, but Masumi and I made it to the top. The only catch was that we didn't ever find the cave, despite following the signs that kept pointing to it. This was a big disappointment to her, but as we walked down the steps, we decided that this was a very Buddhist lesson... that the voyage is not always about the destination, and that sometimes the hard work leads to a different outcome than what you expected when you started. Or it might just be a lesson about not visiting new temples until the construction is complete and all the signs make sense.

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18th October 2011

...enjoying your blog!!!
stephen, ....thanks!!! ...the place seems spiritual, looks clean,...Gold, India? The gods strongly resemble what one would expect to find in India,...the scarred rooster was a riot!!! Buddhism,'s not about the destination,'s about the journey,.....Yes, right!!! Just ask someone who has spent fourteen hours in a car with a two year old with cotton candy!!! What's up w/ the temple painted lavender? Just wondering has Martha Stewart been over there? Food. Fruit? Milk? Eggs? How about rice? Have you grown tired of rice? As my son says "already." Have you had The Anthony Bourdain Experience? If there is one nearby, have to go by the market early one morning,...and I do mean EARLY!!! It's a riot!!! It's interesting watching the guys work w/ the beef, poultry, and pork. I have never seen the ability to take live poultry, render it lifeless, and carve it up in such a matter of minutes. To say some of those guys take their job seriously is an understatement,'s like a sport!!! And a true test of one's virility!!! I've never seen anything like it in my life!!! I guess they give out "The Man Award" at the end of the year for whomever is the best, the quickest, or something!!! While in Masbate',...and being "past" weary we wandered into the market about mid-morning,...and found fish in every hue imaginable,...royal blue, vibrant red, sunburst yellow, striped fish, polka dot fish,....round fish, oblong fish, and even square fish....a sight for sore eyes to say the least!!! And yes, then our eyes were "sore!!!" Back Home the temp is in the sixties,...perhaps, even a bit cooler at night,...a norther blue in last night about 0300 (3:00 am),...the wind is at 20mph,....with wind gusts to 30-40mph,....not fun on a bike, and even more of a challenge on Bee Cave Rd. Yep, don't ever recall needing to stomp on the pedals going downhill!!!! Or being blown backwards, ....back up a hill!!! A wind gust grabbed the front wheel this morning,...and it got "wobbly," ...the wheel turned from the 12:00 position, about the 10:00 position, and I thought "Oh, Hell No....I am in no way ready to kiss the pavement this early in the morning!!! Guess, I better 'grab a hold' a bit better!!!" I hear there may be "A Birthday" over that way,...rice pudding? fried wonton? soy ice cream? do they have green cake over there? Anyway, thanks for keeping us posted.... Smiles, t

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