Thursday, October 11, 2012

Qiun Ling Park and Monestary

Thursday we took in Quin Ling Park which butts right up to a Buddhist monestary.  Quin Ling Park is again probably not what most people think of when they think of China.  It features a lake with paddle boats and several small shops (all done in pagoda style architecture) and a winding road which leads up into the mountain.  The road is steep with trees and mountaineous terrain on either side.  Our guide had our driver drive us most of the way to the top and let us walk maybe an eighth of the way.  The eighth of the way was a lot of work; most of the Chinese people visiting the park walked the entire way and showed no signs of straining to do do.  What makes Quin Ling Park unique are its monkeys.  Wild monkeys live in the park and can be seen just about everywhere.

And yes, I did keep thinking this might turn into a scene from America's Funniest Home Videos where the monkey does something outrageous.  Our guide told us to leave anything extra in the car (water, our bags, food, etc.) to prevent one of those moments.  Later we found the monkeys camped out on someone's car.  The car they are sitting on had an antennea that the monkeys thought was pretty interesting but they did not break it as one might think.  Apparently there is a monkey park in Taiwan  where the monkeys have learned to throw rocks so visitors must wear a helmet.  (As relayed to us by our Chinese guide.)
Right next to the car is the monestary.  I'm not sure if monestary is the right word or if temple would be a better description.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside but inside were three separate rooms for three different Buddhas.  Each Buddha represented a branch of the religion, one developed in India, one that was old Buddhism and one that was newer.  There was also a fourth room set aside for a Buddhist goddess.  (Not sure if she actually was considered a Buddha or not.)  The goddess is considered the goddess of mercy and believers pray to her to fulfill their wishes especially regarding fertility (but for anything one desires).  There were many Chinese people inside lighting incense and kneeling on the cushions in front of each Buddha.  I tried to get a feel for how often people might come here, like if the people we saw were sightseeing or frequent worshippers.  What I was told was that most people in China only come to a place like this occasionally and often only if they are wanting to ask for help with something.  He said there are more devout followers but that this does not represent China as a whole. 
I could not help but wonder how many people worshipping there had even heard the name of Jesus.  I fully realize that many people would cast Christianity in the same light, as a superstition, people praying to an imaginary God or people desparate for favor from a God.  But I think what sets Christianity apart from Buddhism (and so many other religions) is grace. 
A central theme to Buddhism is the idea of enlightenment, of doing enough good things (good works, meditation, sacrifice, etc.) to become a better person so that the gods will look on you with favor and move you forward on the path of enlightment.  Each person lives over and over again, repeating the cycle of living, dying, and suffering; if you are lucky enough to have won favor, your next life will be closer to an enlightened one. 
 For me, it's the sadness of a never ending cycle where you are always wondering if you were good enough.  While I know there are many Christians who struggle with the same idea of measuring up, that struggle is not a Biblical one.  The love of God which compelled Him to send his son as the ransoming hero is a once and done thing. 
Once for all. 
No condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. 
His grace is sufficient. 
Jesus, friend of sinners. 

Wall just inside the monestary, features dragons bathing a Buddha

Before we headed back to the hotel, we stopped at the base of the park for a chance to walk around on a plaza.  A lake framed by mountains was on one side while some small shops were on the other.
I have no idea what was actually in the building on the other side.  The architecture is interesting.  Guiyang is a very large city so we have not seen all there is to see but we have seen very little traditional Chinese architecture. 

While we were on the plaza, we saw some pigeons.  We've used an Android app called Sound Touch as something to entertain Zeke.  Because of that, we knew he really likes animals, especially birds.  (Sound Touch has pictures of all sorts of things from animals to household objects to vehicles.  So one page will show all animals.  If you touch the picture of a cat, it will bring up another picture of the cat, say the name, and make the animal sound.  In our case, we set it to say the names of the items in Mandarin.  Zeke has liked it and has especially been fond of the bird pictures.)  We have seen him try to whistle like a bird by puckering up his lips so I thought I'd try to get him to do that while we looked at the pigeons.  Of course, if I was trying to capture it, he wouldn't do it.  The minute I put the camera down, then he be making his funny little bird sounds.  I think I finally managed to get it.  However, the sound is drowned out...too bad.  It's kind of a slurping little noise; you can definitely see his lips moving.  (And ignore the blue tinged lips, a blue sucker is to blame.)

We also visited the Wax Printing Cultural Museum in Guiyang.  It's not very big but it houses a nice display of ancient Chinese history and minority group cultural artifacts (masks, jewelry, and clothing).  China is a country populated by many different people groups.  Often, we as Americans, think all Chinese are the same but they are not.  That is one of the reasons Chinese history is the way it is.  For hundreds of years, China was an area full of different ethnic groups ruled by different warlords (for lack of a better term).  Each little area of China was a faction with each own customs and distinct facial features.  Often these groups disliked each other and fought wars with each other land, livestock, etc..  When Chiang Kai Chek came into power in the 20th century, he managed to create a loose confederation of Chinese states and he tried to unify China under a central government.  General Mao continued this and the centralized government has grown and gained strength so that the divisions between the different ethnic groups are not as strong.  Specific groups no longer live soley in one area but there are still pockets of minorities.  While in China, you will see some Chinese who look very similar to Native Americans or the Guatemalan students I see back home.  Others look traditionally Chinese (Han). 

Given that Guizhou is home to many minority groups, we assumed Zeke is probably not Han Chinese.  We actually asked but were told he was Han.  After reading more at the museum and thinking a bit, I am wondering if he is Buoyei or Zhaung.  There's no real way to tell (other than maybe genetic testing) but those are two of the largest minority groups in Anshun.  Zeke is also a big kid, very long torso that makes him tall.  He easily fits into 2T clothes as a 27 month old which is really not normal for many of the Chinese babies who are adopted.  I don't know if that is a real indicator of being a minority or not but it's worth asking.  Yao Ming (who for some reason reminds me a bit of Zeke in facial features) is has some Zhaung in his bloodline.  Anyway, I'm glad we visited.  It also had a very nice gift shop.

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