A Travellerspoint blog

October 2012

The Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Temple

Dali, China

70 °F
View Kunming on Blanchardlawn's travel map.

Travelling through Dali was my favorite part of the trip through Yunan. Dali was historically the heart of the Buddhist area in southern China and still has a strong Buddhist community. The main site is the Three Pagodas, but before you get to them, you walk up through the newly rebuilt Chongsheng monasteries.

Here we are with our guide, who (I think) said he was half Han Chinese (the majority ethnic group in all of China) and half Bai, which is the main ethnic group that comes from Dali. He's the one holding the flag. The guy talking into the microphone is translating the Chinese info into Korean.


All of the monasteries were destroyed by fire, earthquake, and war, but they were restored in the late 90s (finished in 2005). They did a pretty good job restoring the buildings and with the new paint, it's really beautiful, but it does feel like it's missing that 'historicalness' that the pagodas have. But the restoration is really thorough and the colors really draw you in.



During the height of Buddhist influence, 9 kings abdicated in succession in order to become monks at the temple here. They were each represented by huge painted statues. Because the buildings are still active monasteries, we were asked not to take pictures, but some of the kings were pretty scary looking (wonder what kind of monks they became). Outside of the temples, there were these red and yellow flags. I was looking for some explanation, but the best I could find was that it was part of a 'wish tree' where people lift their wishes up. These ones were pre-printed and available for sale.


The Three Pagodas were built sometime in the 800s and have survived fires, wars and earthquakes. In fact, the pagoda on the left leans pretty noticeably (but I also used a fisheye lens, so both towers look like they're leaning). Supposedly, they have little or no foundation which makes their survival even more extraordinary. During one Earthquake, one of the Pagodas developed a large crack, but then when the aftershocks hit, the crack healed and the pagoda remains today.



Dali (and Yunan in general) is celebrated for it's farmland. These images (all but the first one were taken from the moving bus - sorry), really give you a feel for how the ride through Dali went. It was just one incredible landscape after another.






Posted by Blanchardlawn 04:01 Archived in China Tagged temple three pagodas dali hdr chongsheng Comments (1)

Travelling Through Yunan

Jiuxiang Cave

View Kunming on Blanchardlawn's travel map.

Right after the Stone Forest, we took a bus to the Jiuxiang Cave.

On the way, the scenery was beautiful and I got some nice images even though the weather was less than sunny and I was taking them out of a moving bus. I also got an interesting shot of some farmers walking alongside the highway. I have no idea where they were going because we were mostly in the farm country.




It was a lot to see back-to-back, but as you can see, the views were incredible.


Before you go into the cave, they let you paddle around in this gorge area that has been created by water running from the cave.






They've really done a nice job with the lighting in the cave and it highlights some of the unique aspects. One of the best things about visiting parks in China is that they were almost all renovated in 2008 in preparation for the Olympics. But outside of the major cities, the tourism really drops off, so sites like these aren't overcrowded like they might be in the USA.





Then when you exit the cave, you take an overhead cable car back up to the top of the cliff. Wow, the view. Again. Unless you don't like heights.




Posted by Blanchardlawn 02:15 Archived in China Tagged caves kunming jiuxiang Comments (0)

Kunming Trip

Stone Forest

70 °F
View Kunming on Blanchardlawn's travel map.

I'm finally getting to our trip to Kunming that we took at the beginning of the month. We traveled to Kunming with a group of 45 teens from the school. Kunming is in part of the Yunan province (much warmer and more temperate than the area we live). One of the must-see areas is the Stone Forest, a national park full of giant limestone formations (known as karst if you want to get technical). It reminded me of trips to national parks in the states. It's so amazing, that it's hard to appreciate while you're there. They taxi you from one scenic spot to another, but the whole area is really beautiful.









Posted by Blanchardlawn 18:25 Archived in China Tagged stone forest kunming Comments (1)

Plant Store

40 °F

On Sunday we got a chance to go into the city to get plants. The kids are required to buy a small plant to take care of throughout the winter. It helps teach them responsibility and it also makes the winter a little more bearable to have some greenery inside.

The plant store here is a warehouse divided into dozens of stalls selling all kinds of plant related things and the plants themselves. Some stalls have only orchids, some have succulents, some have pots and water pitchers. It's like the gardening section of Home Depot combined with a craft fair.

I just got a simple Sansevieria (or Snake Plant). In China it's called a Tiger's Tail or hǔwěilán 虎尾兰 or so Wikipedia tells me. Yun got a Bonsai kind of plant (no idea which kind of evergreen). Mine cost 15 kuai for the plant plus 35 for the pot. Yun's came potted and cost 160 bargained down from 180 (I'm a terrible bargainer, so any price break is better than nothing). Total, that's about $35. So now our apartment is looking much happier and our old Bougainvillea has some friends.



Posted by Blanchardlawn 20:30 Archived in China Tagged stores Comments (0)

We bought an iPhone!

Made in China

37 °F

iPhone 5 for only 1 kuai! (That's about 17 cents). Who could resist! Notice the time. That's probably the time we will really get the iPhone 5. :( The doorman had a good laugh at our expense for eating ice cream bars when the weather hovered just above freezing.




Posted by Blanchardlawn 18:57 Archived in China Tagged food Comments (0)

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