history lessons

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War!

I woke up this morning because I could hear a military conflict going on outside: gunshots, detonations, laughter…

Laughter?

guns

You might have already guessed it: Someone was throwing a wedding party in the hotel I was staying at. Chinese are the kings of fireworks, no kidding. I got out of bed.

People had been telling me that there was a lot to see in Zhengding. This place apparently used to be one of the most important townships in Northern China for thousands of years. My expectations were up, I was excited.

The first site I came by wasn’t historical at all though:

Journey To The West

Journey To The West Palace 西游记宫 is a modern place dedicated to a Chinese Classic: the Journey to the West. This novel is about a monk traveling to India to recover Buddhist scriptures. Among his mates are a pig and a monkey. Or rather, they look like a pig and a monkey.

I went into this “palace” because I thought it was going to be historical, and because I’m also on a journey to the west. I found it uninteresting, not to say boring.

There was a sign outside that I liked though:

no one palace in the world

Actually, this consists of three signs, two are translated in English, the third one isn’t. Look here, I did the missing translation for you:

(from top to bottom)

“NO ONE PALACE IN THE WORLD”

“MARVOLOUS CITE OF THE JOURNEY TO THE WEST”

“PLEASE DON’T SPIT ON THE FLOOR”

The next site I came along wasn’t as funny, but it sure was historical:

Tianning Temple

Tianning Temple 天宁寺 is a wooden pagoda that originally dates back to the Tang Dynasty (唐 618-907). It has been restored and renovated several times though, last time in the 1980s, so it has a quite fresh feel to it.

I got a flashlight and squeezed myself into the staircase to make my way up:

inside Tianning Temple

The reason I am showing this picture and not one from the top is because the top offered basically nothing to look at. I guess a pagoda isn’t a radio-mast with a platform and a rotating restaurant after all…

Not very far from this place is the biggest historical attraction Zhengding has to offer: Longxing Temple 隆兴寺, a large Buddhist temple that is even older than Tianning Temple, being originally constructed during the Sui dynasty (隋 581-618):

Longxing Temple

What I found particularly interesting about this temple was the fact that most of the deities looked strangely original to me. Let me explain this: most manifestations of Buddhism in China I have seen so far had been adapted to look Chinese, but not these here. They looked very Indian in a way:

Buddhist figurines

Even more so the main attraction of the temple, the massive statue of the Goddess of Mercy in the main hall:

Goddess of Mercy

Two girls standing next to me were trying to count her arms, all the while disrupting each other and starting to count over again. They got to 42 which I guess is right. I was still wondering about the origin of the design.

Maybe I used to know but I forgot? Maybe I should have studied harder? Maybe I should have asked one of these guys:

heart-sutra

But then I didn’t.

When I realized that I wouldn’t make it to Shijiazhuang 石家庄 today, I started looking for a hotel in the south part of town, and found one with NO HEATING. You wonder why this always happens to me? Like there are no other hotels in a place full of tourist attractions like this? I really can’t explain, here’s how it happened today:

I go in. A lady shows me the room, which looks okay but not great. I am reluctant.

lady: “How much do you want to pay?”

Chris: “You tell me how much you want!”

lady: “50.”

Chris: “No, no, no! No shower and you want 50?”

lady: “Well how much would you be willing to pay?”

Chris: “No more than 30!”

lady: “30? No, that’s impossible, 40!!”

Chris: “You don’t even have a heating in here, give me a break!”

lady: “What do you need a heating for? There’s a mantou-bakery downstairs – don’t you feel warm?”

Yeah right, that’s why you’re wrapped in like a ton of clothes and still got your arms crossed in front of you to fight off the cold!

Chris: “No way! I’ll leave now if you don’t make it 30!”

lady: “Oh, come on, 35 and I’ll get you an electric heater!”

Chris: “I don’t need your heater, 30!!”

lady agrees.

Three hours later I agree to pay an extra 8 to get the electric heater. I am on my bed with ALL of my clothes on, the heater is humming and looking warm, and I am wondering how this could have happened.

Can you tell me?



  • Jean Luc

    Du warst schon immer eine Kältemämme!!!
    30 Geld ist desweiteren ein Witz. Ich habe schon in weitaus besseren Hotels (mit Dusche und Heitzung) zu zweit genächtigt und das für 40 Geld. Ich glaube daher, die hat Dich über den Tisch gezogen (hehe).
    Das Du dann noch angekrochen kommst und dann doch ne Heizdecke willst, hat ihr bestimmt gefallen.
    Jaja der dumme Ausländer.

    Reply

  • Christoph

    Hehe, wer hatte das mit der Kältemämme nochmal zuerst gesagt?
    Ich glaube aber, was das Hotel angeht hast du leider zu 100% recht.
    Mist.

    Reply

  • Marvin

    Chris,
    Wanda and I could be your Pig, and was it Donkey? on your westward journey. "In spirit." You chose which is which. If it was a jack ass then there's no question which I would be. Can you not say when checking in, "Do you have heated rooms"?

    Reply

  • Christoph

    Yeah, the funny thing is i KNOW that I'm going to be freezing but I still start with this whole haggling thing, because I somehow come to believe that it's a real bargain. bargain my ass, damn tonight was cold!
    Wish you a good time in St. Louis!

    Reply

  • BOWER

    Ha Du Wurm,

    wenn einem eine Frau in China sagt das sie 50 oder 60 Geld haben will, dann sagst du nicht 30 sondern 20 und fängst nicht an zu erklären warum du nur 30 zahlen willst, sonder sie soll dir erklären warum sie 50 haben will….

    Und wieso Heizung? Da muss ich dem Jean L. schon Recht geben…. Aber ich habe da ja von einem Trick mit ner Plastikflasche gehörrt ! ha ha ha

    Reply

  • Christoph

    Okay Wohni, das mit dem Business hattest du schon immer besser drauf, den Punkt geb ich dir.
    Heizung ist ne schöne Sache, sonst gefriert es unter Umständen auf dem Boden wenn bei dem Flaschentrick was daneben geht.
    Brrrrrrrrrrr….

    Reply

  • Anand-Gua

    There is famous sentence from 孟子 can explain your situation:天将降大任于是人也,必先苦其心志,劳其筋骨,饿其体肤,空伐其身行,行弗乱其所为,所以动心忍性,曾益其所不能。It means if you are going to do some great things and want to become more powerful you have to face many troubles.
    Pagoda is very important in chinese life,it usually building beside a river,the shadow of the pagoda likes a whip,it can defeat the destory from a bad god of the river,of course ,it is just a kind of blief.And it also uses to put some Buddhist scriptures or defeat the real enemies.

    Reply

  • Christoph

    Oh, good old 孟子 eh? Looks disturbingly 古文… Does this sentence explain why I chose to stay in an icy hotel room though?

    Reply

  • Anand-Gua

    It is just a joke!

    Reply

  • Christoph

    Hahaha, good old 古文 kinda jokes!! 🙂

    Reply

  • froggyfrog

    30RMB is really cheap.. even though the hotel may not be good..

    Reply

  • Christoph

    It's not that cheap actually.

    Reply

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