Puning Temple, Chengde, Hebei
(August 28, 2011)

(1) This is the front of the Puning Hotel, attached to Puning Temple, Chengde. I really hated to leave.

(2) Not just ambiance and service, but also "The Famous Hotel of Mushroom Cuisine." Who could ask for more? (Puning Hotel, attached to Puning Temple, Chengde)

(3) Well, it was a harrowing 13+ hours on the train to get here to Chengde, but Puning Hotel and the temple it's attached to were well worth it. More to see tomorrow, too, before jumping on a highway bus at 2:30pm (a respite from the trains, please!) Anyway, here's the lobby of my hotel, styled on the main hall of a temple. The girls who work here sleep in a little room behind the front desk (on the right), and they told me they're usually scared at night! I'd love it...

(4) This mural in the lobby of Puning Hotel shows the attached Puning Temple. The original is even more spectacular!

(5) Here's my "hallway" at Puning Hotel; my room is first one on the left.

(6) When I said "dabao" (Chinese for "doggy bag") in the restaurant in Puning Hotel, I never expected that my overly-generous lunch would be placed in actual BAGS! Thank goodness she strained out the tofu and seaweed from the soup; at first I thought she was going to dump in the broth, too!

(7) This is Puning Temple, the reason I'm in Chengde, built in 1755 (exactly 200 years before my birth) in the style of the Samye Temple in Tibet. It's one of the "Eight Outside Temples" built to the northeast of the Summer Palace, sort of a Qing-Dynasty "Camp David." Here it is climbing up the hillside; more about the large building near the top in a moment.

(8) About that building: it houses a monumental statue of the eleven-headed, thousand-armed Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The ticket calls it "the largest wooden Buddha statue in the world." I think not, but the building is huge.

(9) And here she (he?) is: After paying 80rmb to get into Puning Temple, I had to pay another 20 to go upstairs for a closer look (after all, she's 22.3 meters tall!) The attendant said (by rote) "No photo" and I replied in Chinese, "Why? I paid 100rmb for this." He repeated "No photo" then pointedly disappeared, giving tacit carte blanche. YAY!

(10) A crumbling pagoda; solid, except for a passage that goes right through. Still, picturesque.

(11) NOTED! (Next to a crumbling pagoda.)

(12) Many of the white buildings on the hillside at Puning Temple are fakes; they're just solid blocks. The cause is clearer when you look at this model: they create a sort of mandala around the center building (called the "Mahayana Hall").

(13) This is where I did my devotions today, looking at the topmost building in the temple (except for a sentry post). This really is a pilgrimage: you may be able to make out a Buddha image, some books, and a bell that I use. I prefer to get away from the main buildings (where there are too many people gawking and even interrupting); gardens like this are ideal, and I was undisturbed.

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Last Updated August 6, 2019

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