- Master of Time
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But today--my last day in Xinmi--my agenda was filled with a visit to Sky's family temple, a revisit to Xinmi's historic old town, including a revisit to the Xinmi Fa Hai temple where I hoped to meet a friend from my last visit in 2015, a climb at the QingPingShan Mountain park, and a later evening return to Xinmi's delicious food seller's court. A full day...
...that started with a visit to Sky's family's Taoist temple, where I was greeted by the family elders, and which his family has cared for for over 1500 years. For one thing, that's the age of the tree behind the three of us in the first picture, below. That tree is over 1500 years old, and was planted by Sky's ancestors at the same time the small temple behind us was first established.
I have no photos of inside the temple because taking photos there is counter to Taoist protocol, but I was honoured to be welcomed to the temple and told that my visit and my photo will be recorded in the temple documents. The second photo is Sky, Sky's family partriarch, and a description of the history of the tree and temple. The third is another view of the tree and temple exterior.
Now, I actually don't recall where this next photo was taken, but I can tell by the date stamp that it was taken sometime between visit to the family temple and arriving at the Xinmi old town. No matter, I like the photo, so here it is Note: I *think* it's the entrance to the steps of Sky's family temple--but I don't know for sure.
Next, was a return to the Xinmi old town.
This isn't a "recreated" old town--it's the real deal, the oldest places in Xinmi.
I love walking this area, but I was also very much looking forward to seeing another friend in Xinmi, a Buddhist Monk I met on my last visit. We'd gotten along very well and I'd hoped since my last visit that we could re-connect (photo taken in 2015).
I'll return to the temple in a bit, but I'd also wanted to just re-walk the streets of the old town, to return with a small sense of familiarity, and a not-so-small sense of homesickeness, curable by Xinmi street dust hitting the soles of my feet. Brightened my day just to see the gate of the old town again.
There's more photos of the old town at this link, so I'll provide a couple of general shots,including a collection of Menshen doorways, and a video of walking the streets, and if you want more, as I noted, visit the 2015 post
This Xinmi "old town walk "video ends with the entrance to the temple.
Which brings me to the doorway of the Fa Hai Temple 法海寺 in Xinmi City, the over 1000 year old home of my friend 释恒全 Shi Hengquan, built in the year 999. If you like history, click the link, and use a translating browser like Google Chrome to read the story of the temple. It translates well in English.
Some of the temple volunteers and another Monk living at the temple.
There was quite a lot of reconstruction taking place at the temple while I visited, and I was shown how pieces from the oldest construction had been saved and were going to be used in the new buildings. The photo two below and the first video show some of the oldest inscriptions from the site, saved for the rebuild.
These next three videos show the temple grounds as they are during this period of rebuilding.
Inside the temple buildings, I took photos only when and where I was expressly told I could. Here's a few. The first photo and the next video, as explained in the video, are of an area of the temple not often seen by outsiders, and from some the earliest days of the temple.
These last photos of the temple now hold personal meaning for me. I'll explain as it was described to me: For over 1000 years, the monks and acolytes of the Fa Hai temple have cared for the ashes of many ancestors of Xinmi. These ashes are contained in the small gold urns seen in the photos below.
The personal meaning is because while there, Shi Hengquan, the monk and my friend, told me that they would also care for my ashes, if that was my wish.
It is, and if it is possible to arrange this, I'll gratefully rest here. Happily.
After being shown around the temple and visiting and talking for quite a while, Sky and his wife and I were offered lunch with the monks and temple volunteers, which we gratefully accepted. The next photo is just chowing down, the middle is a short video that Sky's wife took while we were dishing up. It's short but it captures the mood of the morning. And the last, smaller, photo (not taken by me) is Shi Hengquan and I saying goodbyes, for now, at the temple entrance.
I look forward to visiting the Fa Hai temple and Shi Hengquan the next time I'm in Xinmi, but it was time to leave. Here's a short video of the very quiet side alley we used to get back to Sky's car...
Sky had to deal with some business, so he'd arranged for a couple of friends to accompany me to QingPingShan Mountain Park, an urban hilltop park located right near the newer part of Xinmi's urban area. Climbing up to the park, as you could see--and as I remembered--from photos taken during last visit, is a good solid hike involving a bunch of sets of steps, about 30 to 35 steps each set, to get to the top of the hill, and I was looking forward to the exercise. First, a short video of the drive to about 1/4 up the QingPingShan slope.
On each plateau on the way up, there's a variety recreational and amusement stuff--and this particular foot-pedaled attraction was a hoot. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the video is a book...watch and learn
One thing I missed on my last visit to QingPingShan Park was a decent photo of the spire at the summit. I took care of that this time...
There's lots more photos of QingPingShan Park from my 2015 visit, so visit this link for more (not the same link as above).
We got back from the mountain park about 4:00PM. It was my last evening in Xinmi, so Sky and I arranged to meet later, at about 6PM, at my hotel. One of the young folks, Cheng Meng, the young guy in the black T-shirt who waved when we were on the..."pedal-coaster" I guess you could call it...who'd accompanied me on the hike, also met with us at 6:00 for a bit of a walk around another quite a bit newer section of Xinmi before we'd meet with Sky's wife and daughter for dinner. Some shots from the walkaround, starting with the Cheered in the daytime (well, early evening)...
During the walkaround, besides new high-rise housing, shopping areas and a brand new high school, we passed some urban farm workers, still on the job at 6:30PM...
The new Xinmi high school...
...and other quite new urban buildings...
That last photo was taken at 7:00PM. Sky, Cheng Meng and I walked and talked for another half hour as dark descended, meeting with Sky's family at 7:30PM at the location of the covered but open air "food court" area I'd visited in 2015. Here's a reminder photo from 2015...what it used to look like...
There was now a sign at the entrance to the street/alley leading to the food places...
...and the various food sellers now had their areas separated by plastic sheeting and sections of paneling, with doors leading to each sellers's domain...
And we'll leave today's adventure with a short video of the immediate neighbourhood of the food court just seen, the area just outside the various seller's sections, and a pan around inside the restaurant. The food was super. The company was world-class and this was a another "hoped to return" goal accomplished.
Coming up next...Shanghai.
And: let's add a final "extra added attraction" for the curious. Here's a 10 minute video of driving around Xinmi, Henan--just 3 raw footage clips from April 16th and 17th/2018, pieced together for a passenger's eye view of Xinmi.
"That stone buddha deserves all the birdshit it gets. I wave my skinny arms like a tall flower in the wind." Ikkyu