Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
24Trip End Ongoing
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* 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
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! :)