Sunday, April 29, 2012


We are in Hangzhou for the weekend!  The weather has been unbearably hot and humid and with the holiday it has also been super crowded.  Throw in a 2&4 year old and you've got yourself a recipe for a disaster.  We took one of high speed trains China is known for and after waiting about 30 minutes for a taxi at the train station we finally got checked in at our hotel by noon.  Since we couldn't find a taxi when leaving the hotel we made the ultimately poor decision to walk.  After a very long, and very hot walk we finally made it to the Lingyin Temple which is known for its carvings and grottoes. 
The Lingyin Temple is one of the richest in China and is still home to Buddhist monks.  Photos are not allowed inside the temple which is understandable, but disappointing since it was amazing to see.  From what I've been able to find out the huge figure taking up most of the hall, at least 50 feet high, was Guanyin a bodhisattva, or enlightened one.  The Buddhist version of a saint I figure.  Guanyin represents the compassion of all Buddhists and plays a part in helping the dead find their way to the Buddhist heaven.  You could buy sticks of incense to pray with at the temple and the air was thick with it.  It was a challenge to avoid all the people bowing and walking around with the smoking sticks.  Lily had about a million questions which I did my best to answer.  After the temple we ended up taking a bus back to our hotel because again it was impossible to find a taxi.  I now know how sardines feel, I was literally sandwiched between people on all sides.  It was an experience I'd rather not repeat. 
We all collapsed back in our room and cooled off for a bit before we decided to venture back out.  We walked about 10 minutes down the street to the Walmart and picked up diapers and a few snacks for the kids.  We grabbed dinner at McDonald's, my first since moving here, before finally calling it a night. 
Today we got a taxi from the hotel and went to the Leifeng Pagoda which is right by West Lake.  The pagoda is five stories tall and was originally built in 975AD before being rebuilt in 2002 after being destroyed in the 12th century.   Luckily for us when they rebuilt if they put in an elevator, which could definitely account for part of its popularity.  They also had an escalator to take you up the 138 stairs leading to the pagoda.  There were beautiful views from the top of the lake and surrounding city and mountains.  Once we got back down we stopped for a drink and snack.  It had rained during the night and although it was not as hot as yesterday it was much more humid.  The kids munched on ears of corn and got a bubble gun.  I got a medallion with a dragon (to represent this year) on one side and the pagoda on the other.  They also etched our name and today's date on it.  We walked a bit around the lake and looked into taking a boat but decided to pass since we had a lot of trouble communicating with the "captains". 
We got lucky and found a taxi, the only way to get one is to catch it as it's dropping off a fare.  We headed south away from the lake to Liuhe Pagoda, which translates to Six Harmony Pagoda which represents the six Buddhist ordinances.  Originally built in 970AD, destroyed in 1121, and rebuilt in 1165 it is one of the oldest brick and wood pagodas in China.  We only went up one of the 13 levels since the stairs were very narrow and very steep.  The area around the pagoda was beautifully done with lots of garden areas and temples.  By this time it was one and we were all hot and tired so we headed back to the hotel and showered to wash off the days sweat before taking a nap.  By the time we woke up it had started to rain.  With the crowd and rain it would be impossible to get a taxi anywhere so we decided to stay in and have dinner at the hotel.  It is not exactly the weekend I had hoped for but I'm finding that traveling in China has its own learning curve.  We may also try and avoid travel in China on the holidays as it seems to be more trouble than it's worth.  We head back home tomorrow first thing in the morning and start moving our stuff over to our apartment.  Tuesday is the official move in day, can't wait!

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