China day 19

Woke up at the crack of noon. Decided to see the two Goose Pagodas, Small and Large. The Small Goose was within walking range, so we set off.

Stopped on the way at a nice restaurant, had handmade noodles, steamed buns. Continued walk to Small Goose.

Small Goose Pagoda was in an inactive Buddhist temple complex, all the buildings converted into shops. Nobody burns incense sticks here, no monks wag disapproving fingers at you if you photograph the Buddhas. There are no Buddhas.

I just accidentally typed “Buddhasm”. Definition: The feeling you get when you finally achieve enlightment.

Quite a climb up, on progressively narrower and steeper steps, before emerging on what is currently the roof. The original top levels of the pagoda were lost in earthquakes.

Walked around the temple area. There are quite a number of stone sculptures on square columns sticking out of the ground. Got photos of some of the more interesting ones.

From there taxied to the Large Goose Pagoda. This one is much larger, and seems to be a little bit active. There were a few monks about, but not many Buddhist devotees. An interesting display of the life of the original Buddha in a series of carved panels around the room.

From the Pagoda, one can see a park next door with a large fountain area, the size of a football field, where people run about and frollick in the water jets. And from a courtyard in from of the Pagoda area, people fly kites.

Taxied back to the Bell Tower from here, and went to a shopping mall across the street, where Sabrina bought a pair of shoes.

China has many stores selling luxury goods, Prada bags, Swiss watches. I even see billboards advertising Ferraris. You’d never see that in Canada, there just aren’t enough potential buyers to make it worthwhile.

But then, you see all sort of weird billboards here. I’ve seen billboards advertising oil-drilling equipment. 99.9999% of people who see that billboard are never, ever, going to buy oil-drilling equipment. The people who do buy such equipment would presumably make their choice based on considerations much more exhaustive than a billboard. So why do they bother?

The gap between rich and poor here is staggering, and the rich can afford to have very expensive tastes. Outside the shops, beggars with no legs paddle themselves about on wheelie boards. In some places, the beggars are surprisingly persistent, blocking your path. But you can’t give them anything, because you’ll be mobbed by them if you do. You can’t help them all, there are just too many.

Went back to the hotel for a rest, before setting out for dinner. We returned to the same restaurant where we had lunch, had some dim-sum type goodies.

Then back to the hotel to sleep. Tomorrow we get up early again to fly back to Shangai. The trip draws quckly to its conclusion.

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