Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Yesterday we ventured back down to the old part of the city to explore the parts we missed. Our host had lined up to take us to the Tang Paradise, a completely new, fabricated tourist attraction. They call it a "cultural theme park", but hubby and I convinced our host that we are interested in the culture that is buzzing around us, and not one that has been manufactured. He was quizzical but he happily complied. Instead we started a walk at the west wall and meandered around the streets until we came to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

Beyond the gates in the city square was an oasis of calm. My mind's eye immediately painted the layer of colour over the dusty leaves that would exist in springtime -- reds and pinks in the peony garden, luscious crab apple blossoms and brilliant greens of the leafy hedges and evergreen trees.

You could feel the sacred when you entered the meditating gardens and the Buddha temples. Visitors lit candles and the dusky aroma of incense burning filled the air.

The ancient tower was built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty and originally had five stories, and was newly renovated in 704. The pagoda holds sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveler Xuanzang. They say his journey to India took 19 years (that's how long I feel like I've been gone).

Beyond the gates of the ancient was a wide open plaza, newly built in the last five years, with a huge display of water fountains rising and falling to the music of Vangelis. Hubby's smile was wide at the strains of familiar. Vangelis is his favourite composer.

We ended our last evening in Xi'an with a traditional dinner of steamed dumplings - beef, pork and mushroom. They graciously ordered hubby a Coke and an order of white fried rice to supplement the meal. It was tasty but with at least two meals of rice and noodles each day, I think I am reaching my capacity. I am definitely going home looking like a dumpling -- this starchy diet is playing havoc with my waistline.

We spotted a Dunkin Donuts in the tourist area and ducked in to buy a dozen for the office. We are going to  have a little send off today before we leave and we thought it would be fitting to end on a western note. They will no doubt break out into little giggles as they seem to find hubby and I terribly amusing.

Next stop: Shanghai.

Lighting candles at the shrine

1 comment:

  1. China adventure has been well captured and forever remembered. Come on home - we don't want to share you guys anymore - it's time to be homeward bound and breathe in the fresh air of home sweet home


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