Baisuigong Temple, Jiuhuashan
(June 23, 2012)

(1) Baisui Gong is up on the mountain, at the end of another pricey cable car ride. Since I'm still hobbling from my walk down from Tiantai Si day-before-yesterday, I opted for the round-trip ticket today. Here's a view of Jiuhua Town, the main population center for the tourist industry here.

(2) From the top, I took this telephoto shot of the Shangchan Tang I visited yesterday. Nothing around it but trees, a great place to practice Chan (Zen).

(3) This is a phenomenon I first saw in Jinan, Shandong. Visitors buy (or bring) locks and attach them to the chains provided as a way of literally "locking in" a relationship, or a financial arrangement, or something. The ones purchased onsite are marked with an interest ("Buddhist devotion," for a more fitting example) and then left there forever. A charming scam.

(4) Compassion in action: there's an unsigned fork in the short trail from the cable car to the temple. The kiosk operator has marked the inside of one of his detachable doors with the temple's name and an arrow to keep visitors on the right path.

(5) The trail passes a half-moon pond high on the mountainside, fed by a spring; the temple gate is just beyond.

(6) These are the gilded remains of Wuxia, the monk whose story led to the building of this temple. He lived on this mountain in the 17th century, surviving on "local plants...and spring water" (the spring that feeds the pond?) When he died at 126 (!) he, like Ming Jing down the hill, was placed in a "pot" (a large urn?) and when it was opened three years later, he was fresh as a daisy. So they gilded him etc. And in 1623 this temple (whose name means "Palace of the 100-year-old") was first built. One source notes that his body was "hidden underground" during the Cultural Revolution.

(7) A long view of the newish 500 Arhats Hall. Nice building, "meh" arhats, as you'll see.

(8) I'm allowed the occasional artsy-fartsy shot, am I not?

(9) This mammoth, unvarnished figure of Cai Shen, (Taoist) God of Money, sits on the ground floor. Great statue, and a fitting significance for a place as expensive as this one.

(10) In the same room, as if in contrast, is this carving of Wuxia's effigy, presumably how it looked before it was gilded. It looks a lot like figures of the ascetic Shakyamuni.

(11) OK, bring on the arhats, impressive in quantity, if not quality.

(12) I couldn't muster enough Chinese to find out why some of these rows are different colors. It could be as cosmic as different groups of arhats, or as mundane as stages of refurbishment.

(13) This leprous figure of Jigong certainly stood out.

(14) Some of the arhats were sitting on the floor, waiting to be placed. I did a double-take when I saw how life-like this one was!

(15) After I was outside, I looked back up and saw these two friends, one lay and one monk, chatting away.

(16) This is the best view I could get of the so-called "Natural Sleeping Buddha" as the clouds drifted by. Forehead to the right, chin closer to the left. See him?

(17) Below that ridge, off the terrace where I was sitting and daydreaming, this little settlement was nestled in an idyllic valley.

(18) As I enjoyed the relative peace and quiet behind the Arhats Hall, one of my cousins showed up... and tried to grab my bag! It was too heavy for him, and I managed to grab it back, which ticked him off. Here he was getting aggressive with me (all teeth just before this shot, and he was big--knee-height when he walked on all fours). So after this shot, I stood up and made myself (even) big(ger). He ran about 10 feet, sat on a fence rail and displayed his--uh--junk. I was not intimidated.

Later, on my way down the hill, I realized I had left my notebook (with all my notes from the last 10+ temples I've visited) back where we had our showdown. When I went back, it was gone! Damn, I thought, The monkey won! Just then, a working guy walked out of a shed and said "Looking for this?" and handed the notebook to me. Advantage: larger ape.

(19) Taking this photo was like shooting monks in a, um, cable car.

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Last Updated August 15, 2019

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