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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trip 10: Dongbei, Hebei, and Qingdao (August 24-31, 2011)

This is a record of my tenth trip to visit the 142 Key Temples of China. Links lead to articles on the temple (or other site) named.

There is also a FaceBook album of this trip, referenced in each article. You can see the whole album here.

Many of the details of this trip were posted on Facebook. You can find more details there. The album is open to all, even without a Facebook account.

Wednesday, August 24:
At the airport on my way out of town, I saw a couple of my students still "volunteering" after the University Games that had finished the day before. My 09:00-14:40 Shenzhen-to-Haerbin flight connected through Hefei, where I had been last year to visit Mingjiao Si (via train from Nanjing). Landing in Haerbin at 3:00, by 3:30 I was texting that I was on my way from the airport to the city through the "Flattest place I ever saw! Not a mountain or hill in any direction." Excellent weather, in room by 5:00. Out again for a walk up Dong Dazhi and Yimen Streets to the front of Jile Temple, tomorrow's first goal (5:50-6:40). Dinner in a veg restaurant next door (and which I later found was attached to the temple). Then by buses to see the exterior of St. Sophia Cathedral (8:10-8:25). Bused and walked back to hotel.
  • Stayed Haerbin - Motel 168 (Dongdazhi Street Branch)

Thursday, August 25:
Jile Temple
Checked out, took bags to Jile Si (7:45-9:40; my #56). Couldn't buy a ticket before 8, and guest office wouldn't take my bag, so the morning was a little more trying than anticipated. Temple was nice, but not spectacular; skipped another nearby in the interest of time. 11:50 train to Changchun, where after checking in to hotel I managed to find the little-known (and little!) Dizang Si, (3:30-4:00; my #57), which was actually closed for massive remodeling, but I was kindly let in. Southward on the same street as Dizang and hotel I looked at the exterior of Banruo (or Bore) Si (4:20), tomorrow's goal. Temples close early up here!
  • Stayed Changchun - Motel 168 (Changchun Avenue)

Friday, August 26:
Guanyin Gucha
Up and out early to see Banruo (or Bore) Si, Changchun (7:55-8:45; my #58). Afterward I was able to buy onward tickets in the hotel's ticket office. Couldn't get a sleeper for the Shenyang-to-Chengde, so would have to sit. More later. But the 11:02 from Changchun to Jilin was a comfortable fast train. Taxi to small, friendly Guanyin Gucha in Jilin (1:10-2:10; my #59), then a slooow train from historic Jilin West Railway Station (closed for repairs) to Shenyang, 4:15-11:30.
  • Stayed Shenyang - Daban 168 Business Hotel (Wuai Branch)

Saturday, August 27:
Dafo Temple
Messed around quite a while in the morning trying to find an alternative to tonight's 13-hour non-sleeper ride; no luck. To Banruo (or Bore) Si, Shenyang (11:20-12:05; my #60). Nothing special. Around the corner the very nice Ci'en Si (12:15-1:25; my #61), then the small and under-repair Dafo Si (1:25-1:35). Walked the streets for quite a while; found KFC; walked to hotel and picked up bags for taxi to the train station. Train 5:18 to Chengde. Train was miserable, but at least I saved on a room!

Sunday, August 28:
Puning Temple
Arrived Chengde around 6:00 a.m., was surprised when hotel let me into room for a morning's sleep. Up at 12:40; lunch in the hotel restaurant (NOT all veg, as advertised); shot the magnificent lobby of this temple-hotel, then out to the temple proper at 1:30pm. Puning Si (1:35-3:35; my #62) and the attached Puyou Si (3:35-4:05) are even bigger than Yonghegong, and are now the biggest Tibetan-style temples I've seen. I walked to the abandoned Guangyuan Si (4:05-4:15) nearby, then back to the hotel to eat voluminous leftovers from lunch.
  • Stayed Chengde - Puning Hotel

Monday, August 29:
Putuozongcheng Temple
"A Walk in Chengde." Breakfast was again leftovers; checked out and left my bags as I took a taxi to find Luohan Tang to the west of Puning (10:30, nothing there but walls). Walked past a restricted military area to Shuxiang (10:45-11:05) a closed-but-active temple in front of which I said my prayers. Pleasant walk through fields to the front of Putuozongcheng Temple (11:15-11:30), where I dawdled a bit, and on to Xumifushou Temple and bridge (11:35-11:45). On a bus to town, I jumped off to see the Yongyou Si Pagoda over the walls of the grounds of the Qing emperors' summer resort (part of what Lonely Planet calls a "vanished temple") (11:50). On into town, then back to the hotel for my bags by 1:20. Taxi to East Bus Station (where I bought a ticket yesterday). Six-hour ride started on a sleeper bus (at 2:30, in broad daylight) with a medallion of the Virgin of Guadalupe in front; after an hour we changed to a more conventional one. Lots of delays, so we arrived in Shijiazhuang after 10:30pm. Along the way, saw signs advertising the Simatai section of the Great Wall.
  • Stayed Shijiazhuang - Motel 168 (Shijiazhuang Xinbai Plaza)

Tuesday, August 30:
Guanghui Temple
I spent the morning trying to find a bus or train ticket to Qingdao, but could only get one as far as Beijing. Taxi to Zhengding where I made a beeline to my target: Chengling Pagoda at Linji Temple (9:00-9:55; my #63). Noted a large mosque and Muslim homes in the nearby alleyways as I walked to nearby Guanghui Temple and its Hua Pagoda (10:05-10:20); then walked down to ancient wall relics (10:25-10:35). Taxi up to Lingxiao Pagoda at Tianning Temple (10:40-11:15), where I was serenaded by a six-year-old, then walked to Xumi Pagoda at Kaiyuan Monastery (11:30-12:00), a place filled with stone relics. Taxi back to hotel, picked up bags, and took same taxi to Shijiazhuang North Station for the 1:40 fast train to Beijing. Unfortunately, they had no tickets to Qingdao either, so instead of staying in the room I had already paid for in Qingdao (Motel 168, Qingdao Railway Station), I ended up taking a motorcycle cab to another near Beijing South Railway Station, where I would take off early in the morning.
  • Stayed Beijing - Golden Oasis Hotel

Wednesday, August 31:
Zhanshan Temple
A taxi to Beijing South Station and a 7:10 fast train to Qingdao, arriving 12:20, and a taxi directly to Zhanshan Si (12:50-1:50; my #64), with a view of the beautiful Qingdao coast on the way. Then a frantic taxi ride to the airport, where I made it in time to pick up my ticket for my 16:00-19:00 return flight to Shenzhen.

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