Erzu Temple, near Anqing, Anhui
(June 28, 2012)

(1) It was six hours, most of them in a bus, from my hotel to the parking area at the Second Patriarch's Temple (Erzu Si). Though it's not on my list, I consider it one of the more important places in Buddhist history.

I knew that at the end of the bus ride would be a climb up a little-traveled road, with no public transport. To my surprise, the driver of the minibus (who had just driven three hours from Yuexi, the county seat) dropped all his other passengers and drove fast up the narrow, rutted road (pic later). Unlooked for kindness always overwhelms me. (But I found out later--I had paid five yuan for that extra trip!)

This is a view up from the parking lot. Someone told me the small building at the top of the stairs was part of the temple; it wasn't, and I was nearly at the top when I discovered it was the gate to Sikong Mountain Scenic Area. Oh, well; the exercise didn't hurt. Much.

(2) This is the gate to the courtyard of the existing temple, and the front of the Ke Tang (guest hall) inside. This level of simplicity won't last long; big construction is underway.

(3) Here's the current main hall against its mountain backdrop.

(4) This is an unusual statue of Bodhidharma, the First Patriarch of Chan (Zen). He looks more like Jesus to me.

(5) And this is Huike, the Second Patriarch, who hid out in these mountains. Can anyone spot what's unusual about this statue, a part of his legend? (Answer will be given in last pic of the set.)

(6) Looking from the front of the current main hall to the valley below. The big, slick building in the mid-ground is the new main hall, still under construction.

(7) On the side of the current main hall is this seat for single meditation.

(8) In what serves as the "compound," some monks were practicing kung fu in front of the dining hall.

(9) At the base of the steps up the mountain, there's a statue of Zhao Puchu, a layman who for twenty years (1980-2000, the year of his death) was president of the Buddhist Association of China. I've seen lots of pictures of him; this is the first statue.

(10) Looking back up the mountain on the long walk down; that's the new main hall.

(11) The shots shows the new main hall, a glimpse of the old one's roof, and on the left, a new residence hall/guest house.

(12) Walking down, I took a couple of shots of the road that the minibus driver sped up. I think that's his tire track!

When I got into town (around 4km/2.5m by Google maps), I discovered that there was no more transport leaving Dianqian. But my hotel was six hours away! A troupe of middle-school girls tried to get me to stay at the hotel, and wanted me to do an impromptu "English Corner" at their school that night. (I think they were boarding students.) One enterprising lass got on the phone, though, and found me a ride--for 250RMB, or $35US (what I make in an hour of tutoring). I was happy to pay it when the gouging hotelier told me he wanted 700RMB for a room! Figuring it was two hours of hard driving down the mountain, and two back up, I don't think the driver clipped me in any way.

When I got to Yuexi, I discovered there were no buses back to Anqing and my hotel, either; but I found a room for just 118RMB right next to the station. I got up this morning, and was at my hotel in time to catch the breakfast included in my room price! All's well etc. Now in Hefei, from where I fly tomorrow.

Oh, and that statue? Huike allegedly cut off his left arm and gave it to Bodhidharma as a sign of his sincerity. The picture shows him doing a one-handed "Heshi" (palms together), and there is nothing coming out of his left sleeve.

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Home tomorrow!

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Last Updated August 15, 2019

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