July 3, 2012
We fly to Chonquin, a big city in the Szechuan area of China. The food in this province is known for its use of chilies and we will have spicy food. Szechuan is known for the best curries both fruit and meat. From the city we are bused to our ship landing at Fengdu.
On the way, the bus stops at an electric car charging station. China doesn’t mess around when it comes to foreseeing where the future is taking us. They have so few cars on the road yet they are building infrastructure of the future-now! And, they do it with charming detail in the last-forever roof.
From the bus parking lot we walk down 100 steps to the landing, then cross this pontoon bridge and enter the belly of the ship. Porters haul our luggage, and once settled we walk back across the bridge to the parking lot and climb another 200 steps up to visit the Temple of Hell. We joke that the climb is what gave it the name.
As we get close to the temple, we see grotesque, moss-covered figures lining the stairs.
We can’t read the inscriptions, but Viki explained to us that this Tang Dynasty Temple is reversed from a Ching Dynasty Temple. Everything here is backwards, like Christianity, you suffer for bad behavior and are re-incarnated to a higher plane (or heaven) for good behavior.
There were so many of these figures, I wish I had taken pictures of all of them and learned what each one means.
From the temple plaza, you have three stairways to choose from to enter the grounds of the temple. One is for women, one is for men and the other is for the monks.
The roof details and even the colors are different from other Temples we’ve seen.
We walked the garden which had odd shapes and unusual colors, twisted arches and tests of skill.
The first test of skill was the Xing Shen Stone. The idea is to balance a 90 pound stone on top of a 200 pound stone.
Mark Maurer, a big strong guy from our group, gave it a try.
He succeeded but nobody else wanted to give it a try. His success will heal a broken heart. The tortured sign in English describing the feat was a hoot.
We tried a balance feat.
You try to stand on one foot on a ball on a hard flat surface for nine seconds. To succeed is to give you a long life. None of us could do it.
The pagoda was beautiful but had none of the markings we’ve seen on others.
In the dungeon, figures behind bars are in hell and suffering. We realized that this temple would not be painted and prettied up for the 2008 Olympics. Even so, it was enjoyable and definitely an unusual place.
From the temple garden we could look down at our ship below through the mist. Another phase of our journey was about to begin. The fabulous Yangtze River.