First Resort

Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Hebei,
Friday, July 23, 2010

Chengde is about 4 hours North of Beijing and was traditionally used by the Manchu Emperors to escape the summer heat of the city. We were certainly feeling the heat, so we thought we'd sneak away too. We took our seats, 100% confident that we'd chosen the correct train, time, platform and seats. Never in doubt! *

* Lucinda and I have booked and boarded lots of trains and long distance buses in China since, but this was our very first train, so we were a little bit worried that we might end up somewhere completely random. We still have those nagging doubts from time to time (the timetables are all in Chinese characters after all) but we've adopted an official Watkinson-Wong battlecry whenever we're pulling out of a station; "S*d it! Let's have an adventure!" 

Our hotel was nestled in the grounds of Puning Temple, Chengde's only active temple. We arrived, dumped our bags and got straight down to the business of gawping open-mouthed at our first bone fide Buddhist Temple. It was beautiful. The first thing that struck us was the scent of hundreds of insence sticks and then the rythmnic chanting of the Lamas, who seem to go about their business completely oblivious to the tourists traipsing around the place.

The temple is most famous for its enormous effigy of Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. 'Enormous' actually doesn't really do her justice, so I'm using the word 'gihugeous', which is completely made up, but somehow much more fitting. The statue is 73 feet high, has 42 arms, with each palm bearing an eye, and is holding a different Buddhist device in each hand. It was completely jaw-dropping!

Photography is banned in the hall where she is kept unfortunately, and we wanted to respect the monk's wishes, so you'll have to Google it. (Sorry, when you started reading, I bet you didn't think you'd be given homework!)

The Summer Resort is one huge park, filled with gardens, rivers, lakes and courtyards. We did loads of walking (I blame Mummy Wong's influence there) and then hired a boat to pootle around in one afternoon. It was great fun and just what the doctor ordered after the hustle and bustle of Beijing. Trust us to get the boat with the dodgy steering wheel, but you can't have everything.

Next stop Datong - Dustbowl Toilet of the East, but there I go ruining the surprise again! :)
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Mary on

Your guys sound liek you are having an amazing time, we are really jealous. Carry on enjoying, and you should publish this when you are done!!!xxx

mattiebuoy on

Picture's are great bro, looks like your having a great time....looking forward to the next entry dude xx

himself on

Dunx if its not too late I want a photo of you in those heels the separate ones of you in the little silk number were great did you want me to publish them?

Nathaniel on

I Googled 'Guanyin' - it's massive!! Some one obviously wasn't obeying the rules and caught a sneaky photo...

Look forward to the next entry from the Dust bowl :-)


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