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The Ruizhu Temple + Q&A at the Language Center

CHINA | Tuesday, 4 November 2008 | Views [1254]

On Sunday Dad and I went to the beautiful Ruizhu Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Zhangzhou city. Just before we got there, we stopped at the Lon Wen Ta gardens which has some beautiful lily ponds and lots of potted bonsai trees. That was about 5mins away from the temple.

The temple it's self is set on levels amongst a cluster of huge granite hills. The view from up there was breathtaking, with the city to the right and the countryside to the left. I got an amazing feeling of tranquility, being so high up and away from the busy city. I do think that the view would've been better had it not been so smoggy due to burning vegetation and general pollution. One of the great things about Australia is the clear blue skies. You don't see that very often here. It's a shame because China is such a beautiful country, but the amount of pollution can spoil it sometimes.

Parts of the Ruizhu Temple apparently date back as far as the Tang dynasty (618 – 907) when it was initially built by a monk named Chu Xi.  Ruizhu actually means auspicious bamboo.

One of the things I love about the Buddhist temples I've visited here in China, is the extreme lack of reverence. Children running around, people talking and laughing, fireworks going off - there is no need to be quiet like you would have to be in a Catholic church, for example. While we were in one of the buildings that house three massive statues of Buddha, we asked a woman who works in the temple if it was alright that we took some photos of the statues and she said no problem (or the Chinese equivalent of no problem anyway). They are always very friendly and you never feel as if you're intruding.

We met some students from the college while we were exploring the temple grounds and they asked us if they could have their photos taken with us - we were happy to oblige. It's one thing you have to learn to get use to - not only being a tourist, but also being a tourist attraction. It's strange for me and I often wonder why on earth anyone would want a photo of me, but many of them have never seen a westerner, so you have to accept that you've a bit of a novelty for them. Everyone is always very friendly though so it's never a problem, especially not when it's students from the college.

The Ruizhu Temple grounds were beautiful and it's surroundings were so picturesque. I think it is quiet different to the other temples I've been to; each one seems to have it's own unique atmosphere and vibe.

~

That same evening Dad, June and I went to Susan's language center for the Q&A group discussion that I had agreed to 'host'. I have to say, I was quite nervous at the prospect of a lecture type situation but I really had no reason to be because it was a fantastic evening! Everyone was very friendly and we although at times there was a lull, Susan did her best to keep the conversation going. The students asked me questions and we talked about education, politics, hygiene, Australia, food, world economics, China, medicine and much more. It was very interesting for me because these students are just ordinary people of all ages who have an interest in learning English and learning about western culture - so the experience was different from visiting classes at the college. It gave me an opportunity to learn about the Chinese people and their culture. It was a great experience, one I won't soon forget.

I'll be going back to the language center next Sunday for another Q&A, but this time I'll be going alone. I don't even think Susan will be there because she has to go into hospital for an operation, the poor thing. It will be interesting to see how I go conducting the night on my own, without a mediator.

Hosting a Q&A at the language center.

Hosting a Q&A at the language center.

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