15.11.16 Hangzhou – Chan Temple

Wonton soup for breakfast, ideal bland morning food. I also have a bonus addition of plastic netting taking me into a commanding 2-0 lead in the ‘Foreign Objects in Food’ competition. 

The visibility at the lake hasn’t improved but people are happily strolling around and brides are having their pictures taken.

 Electric buses zip past ferrying chinese tourists to Liefang Pagoda which on a clear day would have great views across the lake. We cross the road and head to Jang Ci temple which is a Buddhist Chan temple, known as Zen in Japan and the West. Chan is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism started in China and carried to South Korea and Japan which advocates meditation as the path to enlightenment. 

The temple is big and doesn’t have the over elaborate external decoration that other chinese temples have. The interiors are simple too with statues of Buddha and no images of the multiple other Mahayana deities.

I get asked to be in a photo (4-3 to Al) and we watch people pour water over a statue of a boy using a cup on a long bamboo pole. It makes me think of Vic and Bob. Al is encouraged by the locals to have a go which she does with much laughter.

The main temple is high up with views across to the pagoda and glimpses of the lake through the trees.

Next we stroll round nearby Taiziwan park which has been artifically landscaped to the extent of having concrete trees! The brides don’t seem to care.

Back in town we go to a restaurant to have dongpo pork aka Chairman Maos pork (he loved it) as Hangzhou is where the dish was invented (by poet and politician and cook Su Dongpo). We had this dish in Qufu and loved it. We also order ‘during the song dynasty fish soup’ and the ‘shrimp detonation eel back’. With so much expectation the pork is, of course, a disappointment. Dry and meaty with not enough melting fat. Eel is good though.

Back home for the first of two Skype appointments with family as the wifi is good here. It’s great to be able to see how everyone is.

Before the second call we head to Carrefour for tea and honey but spot they have red wine on offer. We buy a cheap french red which later turns out to be delicious. We spot 6 foot sugarcane in the veg section and in the ‘fish’ section we see live frogs, terrapins and turtles. 

On the walk home I realise that street scenes now feel familiar and less alien. Dodging bikes, mopeds and people’s washing while walking on a pavement seems perfectly normal and something I’ve always done.

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