Saturday, May 24, 2008

South Putao Temple and Botanical Gardens

Today my friend, Dr. Michael Forest, who has been living in China for almost a year on a Fullbright Scholarship, took us on a tour of the South Putao Temple, which is just outside of the university gate. The temple is actually a series of many temples climbing up the side of Taiping Hill which reaches a height of over 500 ft (starting from essentially sea level) over a straight line distance of about 1/3 mile. The temple is also the home to a large number of Buddhist monks that are often seen in the town also. Being that it was quite a hot day, it was a welcome relief to find the ship selling water, soda, and snacks at the top of the hill. All along the way up the steps that had been constructed, there were various places to worship, meditate, or simply contemplate life. In one place, there were probably 1000’s of Buddha statues lined up, with no two being the same.

Once we reached the top of the mountain, we went down the other side of the mountain and visited the Wanshi Botanical Gardens. This was a large garden, and like botanical gardens in the US, has areas dedicated to various types of plants: Rain forest, cactus, rose garden, bamboo, etc. There was even an area dedicated to medicinal plants. Also like many gardens in the US, there were also a number of playgrounds for kids.

After the garden, and being on the opposite side of the mountain from the university, we took a public bus back to the university. Actually, the bus system on Xiamen is very convenient for getting back to the university, as many of the bus lines end at the university gate.

The weather in Xiamen, like in Guangzhou has been hot and a little less humid. However, unlike Guangzhou, the sun has been breaking through the overcast and making it quite hot but fairly comfortable in the shade. The students were relieved to find that the building we were staying in had air conditioning.

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