Tag: buddhism

day trip – xiqiao january 13

This trip is a variation on our classic Foshan trip, to discover the natural side of this classic Guangdong city and delve more into the center of Shiwan ceramics.

Foshan city is part of the Pearl River Delta and the third largest city in Guangdong, with distinctive Cantonese cultural traditions and rich history. Its name means “Buddha mountain.” Our first stop will be Xiqiao mountain, an important sacred mountain in the Lingnan area.

The distinctive green hills of Xiqiao were formed by volcanic activity in ancient Foshan, and its freshness presides over this southwest side of Foshan. The Baofeng Temple here has a history of 600 years, and its site today is where the monumental figure of Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, was built in 1998. The 77 meter tall statue is one of the tallest figures of Guanyin in the world.

After visiting the temple, we will enjoy a lunch in a vegetarian restaurant at the rear of the temple.

After lunch, we will visit the Nanfeng Ancient Kiln. Here you can see a ceramics kiln that has been in continuous operation since the Ming dynasty, for over 500 years. The remainder of our time of the day will be free for you to explore the many charming sculptural alleyways and shops to find a wonderful ceramic souvenir.

Monday, January 13
Depart 7:30AM, return Shenzhen approximately 6:00PM

2 Pick ups by private bus will be arranged around Shenzhen, to be convenient to public transportation, for example Chegongmiao metro and Sea World metro.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Foshan in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – guangzhou march 26

Trace Guangzhou’s history in the footprints of a few blocks of the city’s core. Our neighbor has been a diverse metropolis for centuries and has played an interesting part in China’s history. On this day tour, we’ll discover some of beautiful and important sites in Guangzhou.

First we’ll visit one of the enduring symbols of Guangzhou, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Sun Yat-sen, popularly known as Sun Zhongshan, was the first president of the Republic of China after the Xinhai revolution overthrew the imperial Qing dynasty. Sun Yat-sen was a native of the Pearl River Delta, and it was from Guangzhou that he initiated some of the first movements in overthrowing the Qing government. The memorial here was built soon after his death in 1925.

After our walk of the grounds and look inside the exhibit halls about Sun Yat-sen’s life, we’ll have lunch together in old Guangzhou. (Cost additional – just split the bill with the group) Lunch will be either dim sum or an authentic Cantonese restaurant.

After lunch, we’ll visit the Guangxiao temple in central Guangzhou, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Guangzhou, as the site dates back to 230AD. Grand halls and green courtyards are decorated with fresh flower offerings, and left and right of the main halls are two iron pagodas, the oldest of their kind in China. 

Next we’ll make our way to Chen Clan Academy, an ornate complex built in the Qing dynasty. You can see the educational, social, and religious purposes the academy served, as well as learn about the traditional building techniques used and other ancient handcrafts preserved by Cantonese artists.

In the center of this modern city, you can discover some of the beautiful and fascinating history of Guangdong and the Chinese nation.

Adults: 315RMB
Kids 1.2-1.5m: 225RMB

SWIC or ABNet members receive a discount of 15RMB off each 

includes round trip private shuttle, entrance tickets, and guided tour by Greta. Lunch additional.

Tuesday March 26
Departure: 7:30am

Return: 6:00pm

Private shuttle picks up from Shekou (for other pick ups contact me). Journey to Guangzhou about 2 hours.

Minimum 8

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Guangzhou in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

monument valley

red earth

Midway between the tourist magnets of Lijiang and Dali, is a green valley where rice fields are threshed by hand and locals still far outnumber tourists. This is the Shaxi (沙溪) Valley, by now discovered by international tourism but still unspoiled. Outside the village, itself a remarkable model of sustainable small-scale tourism, we managed to escape even further into the folds of mountains, untouched by the ravages of time.

A country road led out of the main town of Sideng, and we located a long path extending out seemingly towards nowhere in particular but for the hills. We parked our bicycles next to an unmanned security booth and set out following the instructions from our guesthouse. Here in these hills, we were told, lies a temple with a sacred stone the shape of a bell, and ancient stone sculptures of the gods from dynasties nearly forgotten. These buddhas were hidden so well in the hills that centuries later, the zealous Red Guard could not find them in their iconoclastic tear across the country.

buddha niche

door guardians

A creek flowed down and out of a rocky valley, crossed by a red sandstone bridge the color of the earth. A pavilion with curved eaves peeked out from the rock formations lining the sides of the valley, some sheared off in smooth planes, and some like bulbous waxy gourds standing upright. A small niche sheltered a Buddha figure at the base of one of these stones, looking much like the knotted head of the Buddha, a common metaphor for this type of stone. We spotted what we thought was our destination, a structure of red colored wood clinging to the face of a mountain. On we pressed, across rope bridges and up stairs climbing steeply along the precipice.

The structure we had seen from below turned out to be merely the door guardians of the temple complex. Behind fine wooden screens, we could see two fierce images carved into the red sandstone cliff face. We took a short break at a clearing overlooking the greater valley below, sharing sunflower seeds and local style yogurt. A Korean hiker materialized from the crevices of the gorge, the only other human we had seen for hours.

valley guys

The sun beat down through clear blue skies on orange earth and young pine needles. Our path led us up to the mountain ridge, into denser woods and then back out. A look out pavilion and trail map confirmed our arrival in the temple area proper. Another valley dropped out below us, with a temple of many levels and courtyards and emerald green hills shifting shades in the cloud dappled light.

temple levels

Inside the temple, another Buddha head stone was dedicated to Guanyin. The collection of the most rare sacred statuary was enshrined along a covered grotto, including figures of buddhas, and a Guanyin (goddess of mercy) which formerly held a child in the same way the Theotokos Mary is portrayed. The final figure was an enigmatic article, a dark object representing the female reproductive organ. Local records note that couples would visit the place and ask for help in conceiving a child.

stone bell
the stone bell

We found a pavilion overlooking the green rolling hills and picnicked on Shaxi baba and Yunnan cheese. An afternoon out of time yielded treasures from start to finish.

photo of the day


Yonghegong (雍和宫), Beijing, also known as the Lama Temple, a Lamasery of Tibetan Buddhism.

The yellow roof tiles signify the imperial status granted to the temple by the Qianlong Emperor in the 18th century. The various animals decorating the ridge also lend symbolism to the building. The man riding a chicken on the right is often associated with imperial buildings, while the three sea creatures at the left are meant to protect the wooden building from fire. The number of animals in between the sea creature and the man signify the importance of the building. This temple has five; the grandest hall in the Forbidden City has the maximum of nine animals.