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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trip 15: Chongqing (June 13-18, 2012)

This is a record of my fifteenth 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.



These notes are "bare bones." 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, June 13:
I took late flight (23:00) on June 13, arriving in Chongqing around 1am (officially 00:55) on the 14th. Although there is a monorail from the airport to town, it had stopped running at that late hour. So I took an airport bus to downtown, and caught a waiting cab to my incredibly bad, rundown, Chinese-style hotel. How bad was it? It's the only hotel I've stayed in, on all my journeys, with only a squat toilet in the room. (How I was forced to use it is a story I'd rather not tell here.)
  • Stayed Huaman Hotel (Chongqing)



Thursday, June 14:
Luohan Temple
Slept a little late, cab to the city, then Luohan Si (12:00-2:15; my #88). I had been there once before, briefly, in 2007, but the Arhats' Hall (after which the temple had been named) was closed. The temple has a weird fake grotto area on the way in; there I was accosted by college kids for pictures, including one with a kid's "grandma...er, GRANDPA!" I ate lunch in the temple's (expensive) restaurant, and viewed the Arhats (worth the wait). I then discovered a cable car across the Yangtze River (2:30) followed by a walk and a bus ride to Ciyun Si (3:20-4:30; my #89). This was an odd, fortress-like place, with very friendly people inside. Afterward, I took a bus past my hotel to the Yangjiaping area for food, then walked home (less than 1 km).
  • Stayed Huaman Hotel (Chongqing)



Friday, June 15:
Shuanggui Tang
A long day: Two subway lines to Chongqing North Bus Station (near North Railway Station); a long-distance bus over 200 km to Liangping (County) Bus Station; a fairly expensive (10 km) taxi from the county town to Shuanggui Tang (2:50-4:50; my #90). This place was gorgeous, situated in the countryside as it was. Although there was some upgrading, including the seemingly-obligatory 500 Arhats' Hall, there was plenty of old, atmospheric construction, too, including an ancient stupa for the temple's founder (Poshan, planter of the "Shuang Gui"--twin osmanthus) in the rear yard. Light, late lunch in the temple's restaurant. A local bus (slower and cheaper) back to the long-distance bus station, and a reverse trip home. Dinner near the railway station.
  • Stayed Huaman Hotel (Chongqing)



Saturday, June 16:
Travel day to Dazu. The bus for Dazu leaves from Caiyuan Ba Bus Station, near Chongqing's main railway station (another leaves from Chaotianmen Bus Station on the peninsula between the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers). The ride is around 120 km; I walked from the bus depot to my hotel. After checking in (and dealing with an internet connection problem) I walked back to the pedestrian street west of my hotel for dinner (next night, too).
  • Stayed Haitang Xiangguo Hotel (Dazu, Chongqing)



Sunday, June 17:
Baodingshan
I got on a mini-bus at the same bus station at which I had arrived for a fairly short (30 minutes?) ride to the spectacular Dazu Baodingshan (10:00-12:00). These are the most famous of the numerous carving areas around Dazu. I visited Shengshou Si (12:00-1:30) which was undergoing restoration, and where an old monk gave me a "jade" Buddha pendant (which I gave away months later to a country girl). Late lunch in a restaurant in the built-up service area outside the park, where I caught another cheap bus back to Dazu and dinner.
  • Stayed Haitang Xiangguo Hotel (Dazu, Chongqing)



Monday, June 18:
Beishan
Taxi to Dazu Beishan (9:00-11:45). Fortunately, the driver dropped me in a weird area and I saw an old pagoda and dilapidated temple before entering the exquisite carvings area, where I had a nice chat with some Beijing university professors. I had to walk down the hill a ways before I found a cab. Then back to the hotel to gather my bags, and a bus to the airport. Although I had reserved a hotel near the airport for a Tuesday flight, I managed to change my ticket at the airport, cancel the hotel, and fly home that night (times unknown).

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