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This post is about a 9km walk within Zhengding. I visit the Journey To The West Palace, the Tianning Temple and the Longxing Temple.


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


firework guns on my walk within Zhengding

You might have already guessed it: Someone was throwing a wedding party in the hotel I was staying at. The Chinese are the kings of fireworks, no kidding. I decided to get 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 towns in Northern China for thousands of years. My expectations were high, I was excited.

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

Journey To The West Palace in Zhengding

The Journey To The West Palace 西游记宫 is a modern place dedicated to a Chinese Classic: the 16th century novel Journey to the West. It’s about a monk traveling to India to recover some Buddhist scriptures. Among his mates are a pig and a monkey. Or rather, they are spirits that look like a pig and a monkey.

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

There was a sign outside that I liked though:

no one palace in the world in Zhengding

Actually, it consists of three signs, two of which have been translated into English. I added the third translation for you:

(from top to bottom)




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

Tianning Temple Zhengding

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. The last time that happened was apparently in the 1980s, so it had a quite fresh feel to it.

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

inside Tianning Temple

There was nothing at the top but a bucket and a mop, and even they weren’t there.

The most important historical site Zhengding had to offer was very close by: Longxing Temple 隆兴寺 is a large Buddhist temple that is even older than Tianning Temple. It was originally constructed during the Sui dynasty (隋 581-618):

Longxing Temple in Zhengding

I noticed that many of the deities in this temple seemed to have a rather foreign look. Let me explain: most manifestations of Buddhism in China I had seen so far had been adapted to look Chinese. But not these here. They looked very Indian in a way:

Buddhist figurines

This was also true for the main attraction of the temple, the massive statue of the Goddess of Mercy:

Goddess of Mercy

There were two young women standing next to me who were trying to count her arms. But they kept interrupting each other and had to start all over again. They eventually got to 42 which I guessed was right.

I was still wondering about the origin of the strangely foreign design. Maybe I used to know, but I forgot? Maybe I should have paid more attention in university?

I probably should have asked one of these guys:


But 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 southern part of town. I found one, but it had no heating. Are you also wondering why this always happens to me? I really can’t explain, here’s how it happened today:

I go in. The owner, a lady in a thick jacket, shows me a room. It 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 heating in here, give me a break!”

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

Yeah right. That’s why you’re wrapped in all those 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 without actually doing anything, and I am wondering how all of this could have happened.

  • 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.


  • Christoph

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


  • Marvin

    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"?


  • 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!



    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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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?


  • Anand-Gua

    It is just a joke!


  • Christoph

    Hahaha, good old 古文 kinda jokes!! 🙂


  • froggyfrog

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


  • Christoph

    It's not that cheap actually.


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