Monastery of the 7th Dalai Lama, Bamei – Entrance Gate
A re-edit of a photo from 2006, during my first visit to the Tibetan areas of western Sichuan.
route to Wenjiang
I made another bike trip to Wenjiang today. This time I hung out in the city park at a teahouse with a tall glass of jasmine tea. This statue was located nearby.
On the way back I, well, fell off my bike. I appled the brakes too hard, the bike stopped suddenly, turned sideways, and sent me to the ground. A skinned knee, elbow pain, headache, burned eyeballs, and sore legs are the legacy of this trip. I looked like a hobbling old man trying to take Xiao Gou Gou for a walk. Now I’m hungry, but I don’t think I can face 4 flights of stairs.
Moving day to Sichuan University will be Aug. 25. I’m already half packed….
getting a light
I did a heck of a lot of bike riding this weekend. The highlight was a day trip of about 70 km round trip to the Wenjiang district, to the west of Chengdu.
The day of cloudy, and after a morning caffeine fix at Starbucks, I hit the road. It was smooth sailing most of the way, as the Chengdu-Wenjiang expressway has ample bicycle lanes on each side. The terrain is also perfectly flat. After passing a set of toll booths, the bike path veered away fromt the highway, but I somehow managed to navigate my way under overpasses to end up on a semi-rural service road parallet to the main road.
Driven by some vague indications that the town offered some historic sights, I eventually ended my journey where the road dead-ended at a run-down gas station, then became confused by a major intersection that offered too many possibilities, none of them seeming to go anywhere.
Long story short, I didn’t discover the “real” Wenjiang that day, only some suburban outskirts that feature an attraction called “Floraland,” which seems to be an amusement park or public garden. Then, in the middle of a busy street market, I stumbled on a pretty temple, Dacheng Monastery, which I thought would offer a soothing respite from the noise and my physical exhaustion. But no.
The temple was a beehive of people, activity, color, candles, incense, and firecrackers. I wandered around, nursing my right knee, tender after the long ride, and eventually ended up at the dining hall for a 3-yuan vegetarian lunch. It was communal, shared with a table of Chinese people who cheerfully pushed all the extra food toward me. Then I adjourned to the teahouse to chill for a while.
On the way back to Chengdu, I realized why the bike route felt familiar: it bore a strong resemblance to the L.A. River bike path, wedged between the noisy 5 Freeway and the graffiti-spattered concrete wasteland of the L.A. River. I felt at home. It was good to be moving, good to have 2 wheels rolling beheath me, and good to have made a new discovery.
BTW: I found out that Sunday, Aug. 9, was Guan Yin’s (bodhisattva of compassion) birthday, which accounts for the hubbub at the temple. Why am I the last one to know these things?
world’s biggest incense
posing for the camera, Dacheng Monastery 大乘院
This guy just popped into the camera frame, demanding to be photographed. It wasn’t until I processed the photo later that I noticed “California Los Angeles” on his T-shirt. Coincidence, or…?
This was during my day trip to Wenjiang, about which more later. The temple was swarming with people, all lighting candles and incense. Just as interesting as the devotional activities was the amount of litter they generated, as you can see on the ground.
old gateway – downtown Chengdu