(Countdown – 322 days to “doomsday”)
Weekends are rest days and it is the best time to catch up on sleep and when that’s done, for the rest of the day, it is time to go around town.
One of the best ways to travel around the city is to use the ever excellent and efficient Metro service and we were just lucky to have a Metro station close to our hotel. Navigating around the station was not that difficult – plenty of large signs in English and color-coded arrows but for those who cannot communicate in Mandarin, you may have some trouble communicating with the Metro staff but then again, you will not have problem communicating with fellow passengers for assistance.
During our time, there were incidents of Metro trains stalling and derailing causing some injuries to some peak-hours passengers. So when some one proposed that we take Metro to go for shopping, we were a bit apprehensive about of safety. But then, we decided to take some chance – we did not think it was that bad. The journey itself was uneventful but it did gave us a good opportunity to see the Shanghai’s young generation in action. They dress well and almost all is playing games on their smartphones or listening to music. The adults on the other hand looks more stressed up. Everyone is rather quiet and minding their own business.
One of the places we decided to go using Metro this time is an old temple in Shanghai. We were hoping to do some shopping along the way as well.
The first place we went was the Jin’an Temple – it was an impressive structure in the middle of the city and next to shopping malls. It is said that it is the oldest temple in the city – built in 247 AD and was the site for China’s first Buddhist organization in 1912, then during the Cultural Revolution, it was converted into a plastics factory. We arrived at the temple early but somehow we decided not to enter inside the temple – the entrance fees or the modern outlook of the temple or maybe the time we arrived may have been the cause – I am not sure. We took some photos outside of the temple and contemplated on what would be the next move.
We then decided to go to another temple – the famed Jade Buddhist Temple that was built in 1882 to place the 2 jade Buddha statues which had been brought from Burma. The temple was crowded with tourists (they were arriving by the busloads which included a couple of Malaysians) and devotees (mostly old people) by the time we arrived. We went there in 2 taxis – it was easy to get a taxi to the temple but it is a different story when you want to leave – there is hardly a taxi on sight and there is a long queue at the taxi stand. We had to pay to enter this temple as well but if I was not wrong, the charges seemed cheaper.
Despite the actual age and compared to the Jin’an Temple, this temple looked older and a bit run-down. Whilst others decided to do some prayers – some of us decided to walk to the souvenir shops for some cheap Buddhist relics and other souvenirs for home (they were selling jade here as well). We knew some of the items on sale were priced higher than usual but we decided that the extra money that we paid for the items will probably go in the end, towards the temple and the administration cost which we did not mind.
The temple complex was quite extensive with several smaller buildings and it took a couple of hours to walk around the place. If you really look hard enough, there is plenty of things to see here – including decorative footpaths and a rather ancient looking pictures. We feel really warm in this temple complex – all buildings that we went did not had any air-conditioner and there is very little place you can sit under a shade. This caused us to feel very thirsty – so make sure you have plenty of water with you (we did not see any stall selling water here but I am sure there is one but is likely to be overpriced). I packed about 3 bottles of drinking water in my bag but still it was not enough. It was quite late in the afternoon when we were simply too tired (and hungry & thirsty) to go further. We walked out (not before being bugged by the beggars outside the temple – I became an easy target for them) for the nearest Metro station (it was quite a long walk from the temple to the station) and looked for a place to have lunch.
To be continued…