It may seem like Xiangyin is a tiny place, but apparently the population right now is 730,000. There is a lot of new construction of residential buildings. In fact, right behind my grandparents’ apartment beyond the vegetable gardens, there are the loud clangs and crashes of construction.
Early in the morning, my grandfather took me to see a Buddhist temple. We took a bus to get to the location, which was about half an hour away. The bus costs 1 Yuan per person, which is about 16 cents. Quite an affordable way to get around! We take the same bus to go to the large supermarket. However, I was reminded of the hazards of public transportation when the crowded bus halted suddenly and the woman in front of me stepped back onto my open-toed foot with her sharp stiletto heel.
We traveled out into the country until we arrived at this, for lack of a better word, complex. It is still undergoing some construction and landscaping, but it has several large temples and offering areas, as well as plant life and a pond. On this rare day with a big, bright blue sky, the area was beautiful.
My grandfather burned some incense and papers. Other visitors let off some firecrackers.
We entered the main temple and bowed to the statues as a woman rang some kind of bell. I used to be more informed about Buddhism but I’m afraid I’ve forgotten a lot of the knowledge. I know that many Chinese look upon Buddhism as more of a way of life than a strict religious code.
If you’ve seen The Da Vinci Code, then you will know that this symbol originally was not the Nazi’s swastika.
At night we went for a nice walk by the riverside. There is a gathering place by the river on a plaza. It is a sort of community center, with people of all generations hanging out after a day of work or school. Music played while people danced, little kids played games and rode motorized toys, and elderly people strolled along the river or chatted with others.
These are little toys that kids can ride on around the plaza. I found the Tellytubby lookalike a little disturbing.
I think these kinds of gathering plazas are really good for the health and cohesiveness of a community. Too bad they are becoming rarer.