Worshipping My Way Up the Steep Steps beneath Yongfu Monastery

img_7829 To the Southwest of Lingyin Temple is the Fayun Village, a place of historical and cultural significance, and the people have done a good job at preserving it. Among the wonders that it boasts, the Yongfu Temple was actually my favorite, and I think it represents the whole area, being a place of worship and a point of convergence for the locals over time. By the way, we had to go through a very strenuous hike up to reach it, I remember getting a tad close to the point of hallucinating as I climbed those ancient, frighteningly unpredictable stairs. I remember eventually turning around to have a look on my way up a zillion stairsteps, and I remember having to lean my body weight forward to not risk losing balance- I’m shivering as I recall those moments.

The Yongfu Monastery was reopened in 2004 with support from the Zhejiang Government and Hangzhou Municipality. Continue reading “Worshipping My Way Up the Steep Steps beneath Yongfu Monastery”

The Laughing Buddha, A Symbol of Feilai Peak in Hangzhou

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Carved in the Southern Song Dynasty, the statue of the “Laughing Buddha” is a classic work. It is by far the largest of all the carvings on Feilai Peak. The Laughing Buddha, as you can see, has a huge belly, head and cheeks, and it is surrounded by arhats from all directions. The carving does a great job at intentionally posing the Buddha in a form of absolute joy and liberated manner. This is a quote from its description, “His belly is big enough to contain all intolerable things in the world; His mouth is ever ready to laugh at all snobbish people on the earth.”

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pH Testing Hangzhou’s Rainwater

 

With all the pollution in China, and the tropical Shanghai-like weather here in Hangzhou, I cant help but wonder, “How polluted, acidic, is the rain that pours over us people everyday? (especially that I dislike umbrellas)

Well I regret that I didn’t bring pH paper with me, but how could I have anticipated the need for it, right? Well as I shopped for my weekly consumption of water, I realized that small pH strips were attached to the brand of bottled water I buy, Nongfu Spring, as part of a marketing campaign to let customers check for themselves the pH of the water they’re drinking.

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Starbucks’ Grand Deal in Emerging Markets

Note: Starbucks is one of the cheapest coffee shop options that you can find in China. Other Chinese-run places charge at least 10 percent more, the decent ones of course; I’ve tried many (I find it interesting tbh) so I know what I’m talkin’ about. Coffee is a luxury item in China, and the surge in Starbucks branches all over the country is a strikingly brazen attempt to buy market share, and the same applies with other international chains like Costa Coffee etc…

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Let me tell you what Starbucks are up to in China, coz it affects me, being the coffee lover/addict that I am. Well Starbucks just raised their prices all over China!! And the price hike favors nobody, from Esspressoz to Macchiattosas and Cappuccinones, Lattess; every drink you order is 1 Kuai more. That’s 1 over 6.5 Dollars more, not much, right? Yes, and imagine how many more such a price hike could make in profits, given the volume of sales they make there..

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Post-Hike Drinks List at Starbucks

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A Long Journey on Feilai Peak

While touring Hangzhou is associated with the famous Lingyin Temple, or the just as famous West Lake, today I’ll take you to the Feilai Peak Buddhist Grottoes, a marvel of an experience. It took us 2 full hours to see it all, and hopefully this slideshow is representative of all there is to see.

It’s name in Chinese is, “@&*”, meaning something along the lines of a “peak coming from far”. Legend has it that the peak came from India. Very Buddhist, right? The carvings there date back to the tenth-to-fourteenth centuries.

You Learn to Get Used to This!
Nobody Likes to Wait Outside!

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Reinventing the Toilet Seat, What’s Going On at Panasonic

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Of the many things I learned during my time living in the states, the first few lessons were particularly hard. In the US, when you enter the restroom, there is no Bidet. This is what a Bidet is, for those who have no clue what I’m talking about (below).

Well I come from a place where Bidets are as essential as the toilet seat itself. I can’t imagine doing my “deed” without having to use the bidet. To my fellow Americans, how can you walk while knowing your “behind” is full of sh**”. I mean, how can you manage to walk comfortably after using the toilet (type 2)? Please don’t say toilet paper does the job, that’s just not true! Well, I discovered this issue in the US, and I remember having the longest journey to the nearest shop where I bought a pack of baby wipes!! It’s actually quite helpful to have a small pack in your travel backpack or during long trips, a new habit I learned in the US. WIPES please!! I use Kirkland wipes by the way.

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Captain America 美国队长

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Marvel’s marvelous Captain America 3 was just released in China, and as an avid super-hero fan, I spent my Friday night out at the movies watching this great production. When it comes to super-hero movies, I’m easy to please, I don’t mind all the bad ratings, the harsh critics or the pessimistic reviews by some friends, I just enjoy. So I booked my tickets online, which you should definitely do online at the movie theater’s website, which is “” in my case. Booking online grants you a half-price discount, so you pay 38 Kuai instead of 80!! It’s quite weird that the difference is huge, and I have to confess I actually bought the 80 Kuai tickets the first two times I went to the movies, as I just didn’t know it’s cheaper online, and the ticket-vendor never mentioned it. It is not the most rewarding job, more so when you have to work when others enjoy their weekend nights at the movies. Anyway, I went to the movies and had a great time.

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A Failed Rendezvous on the River

19 million people in Beijing, 22 millions in Shanghai, 11 M’s in Guangzhou, and in case of Hangzhou, where I live right now, there are 11 million people here. It can be DENSE here. But it is a different thing to know that every fourth newborn in this world is Chinese. So wherever you go, may it be a downtown area, a small park, the city zoo, university or museum, expect to have your private space violated constantly and indifferently amidst the persistent crowds of people flocking around from one place to another.

I had long-envisioned the idea of a romantic sunset along the Xihu river in Hanghou, and so we set out to have a nice time in nature, but it wasn’t to be the type of rendezvous that I imagined in my dreams. Just when my eyes spotted a vacant bench on the river, we rushed to sit down and take off our jackets. But it’s not like you sit down and it’s yours. The West Lake was overcrowded, and a moment later, we had to come to terms with the fact that we were sharing our bench with two elderly people who managed to create space for themselves on our bench, our. But to be honest, the two women were lovely, sharing what they thought about our countries and warmly asking us about our experiences in China. It was a long, warm conversation, which gave us much to chew on, but that inch of privacy on a river, mountain top or at a temple area continues to elude me. My hunt goes on..

Chinese Public Workforce in Action

The public work force does all sorts of things. I can imagine all the various functions that require the readiness of different types of workforce quickly deployed to do various things, from hanging and distributing banners relating to Government sponsored projects and events like the coming G20 Summit in Hangzhou, to helping in directing traffic in over-congested routes, to transporting raw materials to public work sites.. Well, I’ve witnessed two really interesting ways some public servants can serve. The first was on the street near Wulin Square subway station in the Xihu area, where I waited for the green light, along with other electric bikes, on our side of the street. Interestingly, a woman in public uniform was standing in front of us with a water hose in her hand, spraying the whole area in front of me, followed by spraying the area to my right, where I would pass had I decided to turn right. Well, it’s the first time that I see this happen, so I’m not sure what exactly was the description of the job. Could it be that her act is part of the bigger effort to control traffic-stirred pollution? Well, what I witness very often is that every day late at night (around 12 midnight), huge cars with special effective spraying methods, would pass through empty streets, situating themselves in the middle of a wide street, and they would start carpet-spraying the street from both sides of the truck with lots of water. This practice effectively prevents pollution particles from rising with the air as it prevents the cars passing through the street the next day from driving the pollution particles upwards through the interaction of car wheels and the street surface. The water sticks the pollution particles to the ground, temporarily, helping control overall pollution in the air, and enhancing the quality of air we breathe. But in the case of this woman spraying this sidewalk, I’m not sure what results are to be achieved from this, but nonetheless it is a symptom of how serious pollution is perceived to be, and how desperate people are to tackle it in every way, efficient or not. Continue reading “Chinese Public Workforce in Action”

Hospitals.. Just Do as the Chinese Do

There’s this saying in China, “随俗” or this one “随乡入乡”, which in English both mean, “wherever you are, follow local customs”.

It’s just not that complicated, but we foreigners want to be picky, we have to complicate things. Ugh, yes, I’m generalizing. A friend of mine wanted to go to the hospital, and her case was not a complicated matter, just an issue that at most would need a nurse’s brief attention. But we’re foreigners, and we learn lessons the hard way. I, being the wise guy among our group, accompanied my friend to the hospital. Not knowing how procedures work, we looked up the nearest hospital, which happened to be a world apart from the area where we live in, isolated from our neighborhood. We found this place based on an internet search of the nearest hospitals catering for international patients, meaning English is spoken among the personnel. So after the whole hide-and-seek game played itself out, we found the hospital, which was a huge facility. We realized that what we had imagined was totally detached from reality; while we imagined a place dedicated to us foreigners in its entirety, we realized this was a Chinese hospital, which included the International Center catering to our foreigner-in-China needs inside the hospital. As always, it took us half an hour just to find the center, you know, you realize you’re in the wrong floor of the wrong building, and finally finding the right place only by taking the least obvious path, but you find it in the end. Continue reading “Hospitals.. Just Do as the Chinese Do”