>10 day trip

China : Wenshu Monastery and the Flower Lake

Day 3:

After a day of walking at Leshan we decided to take it slow with a monastery. After a breakfast of banana pancakes Summer made for us, we took the community wooden bus that has a story book look to it, and then got to the metro station. And off to Wenshu Monastery, we went. I’ve been there before but it was a first for Anand.

All guide books will recommend this monastery as one of the top places to visit. The board to it in English will simply say “Manjushri Monastery”.IMG_0327It covers over 13 acres apparently so it’s easy to miss some landmark or the other but the grounds themselves are a calm space to wander around aimlessly.IMG_0317

There are several individual shrines in the space, many with the gentle fragrance of incense in the air and ornate gold coloured intricately carved dramatic idols. There are over 300 kinds of idols in bronze, stone, wood and clay.IMG_0332 The surroundings are quite pleasant with greenery and paths winding through the space.IMG_0314

KongLin Lecture hall is the main hall you enter into. In front of the deity are several pillows in rows for one to rest their knees and meditate/pray.

Konglin Buddhism Library is a huge library that you can enter in, but we decided to make do with a peek at its endless shelves of books.

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Wanfo Hall is quite an intriguing place. It’s a large hall with several racks completely filled with umpteen statues of Buddhas. There are beautiful paintings on the ceiling and quite a lovely centrepiece in the centre of the ceiling. I especially loved the wooden windows in the hall.IMG_0300-2

Interestingly a stone carved lotus was used as a feeder for birds and people tended to leave fruits atop the smaller pillars presumably for birds and squirrels to eat.

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Before we left we had simple vegetarian fare at a small restaurant that was packed with people of all ages. IMG_0361.jpg

We met Summer on the way back and knowing we loved dogs, she decided to take us to the pet market. While she had the nicest intentions at letting us see the insanely cute animals, we only left quite sad at the numerous animals in tiny cages. Especially the all-too-young pups and kittens left us quite heart broken. If one is able to go with a seriously touristy angle, it is quite interesting to see the types of animals you are allowed to have as pets. Squirrels, snakes, lizards of all kinds, turtles and even hedgehogs!

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Pet lizards anyone?

A quick stop at a supermarket later, we headed off to the seafood market where Summer picked up enough items and decided to cook us a seafood dinner.

China : Sea food market

She is quite the pro and made absolutely restaurant quality meals with scallops, oysters, crawfish and clams. Anand had steamed edamame and Indian potato and peas cooked by Girish.

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An absolutely stunning meal

Day 4 :

The next day was the first day of our 4-day package tour. We were incredibly fortunate that Summer decided to come along with us since we did not go for an English speaking guide. Early that morning we took a short flight to Jiuzhaigou airport and landed on a beautiful grassland.

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It was definitely the first time for me landing area had a view of a herd of yaks grazing and completely ignoring the aircraft.From the airport, we had to take the bus that would stay with us the rest of our trip.

The view was picturesque throughout our way. Small hillocks covered in grass, beautiful tents of the locals with striking geometric patterns on them, tiny flowers dotting the landscape, small ponds and streams generously sprinkled around, herds of sheep and of course the yaks with their luxuriant fur.

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Pretty scenes at every turn

We stopped at “Ranch Sky Street Scenic spot” which is a cultural town with strong Jiarong and Amdo-Tibetan characteristics.

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This was also our pitstop to use the restroom and since our bus had exactly 2 other guys in addition to the guide, the restroom lines for the ladies were always endless. This time the guide urged us to use the men’s restrooms instead and that’s the story how I entered a men’s restroom for the very first time!

The route continued to be scenic and we were entertained with the girls in the bus singing beautifully popular songs in Chinese. Horses, undulating hillocks with green pastures continued to be the mainstay of the journey.IMG_0599.jpg

We stopped at the Ruoergai Wetland National Nature Reserve that is located in the upstream of the Yellow River in eastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau. We took another bus for a short distance to Huahu Lake– which means the lake of flowers in Chinese. It is at the heart of the Ruoergai wet land and is an alpine lake. Since it was summer space was filled with lush green grass.IMG_0467We were a little early for the whole space to be covered with flowers (best in July), nevertheless, we had whole sections with pretty yellow blossoms. Flocks of birds routinely dunked their heads into the water to pick out their fishy meals. It is home to several rare species of birds and fish. The clouds seem to admire themselves in the placid water that mirrored them perfectly and almost intentionally formed a stunning backdrop for it all.IMG_0451.jpgThe place looks harmless in pictures but since it’s an open space the wind was cold enough to chill your bones. We soaked in the beauty of the scene and went on ahead.

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The security guards getting pictures with perfect poses in a romantic setting

Up next: The fairy tale scenes of Huanglong

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