Trip 11: Zhejiang 2 (Mountains and Wenzhou) (September 12-17, 2011)

This is a record of my eleventh trip to visit the 142 Key Temples of China. Links lead to articles on the temple (or other site) named.

This trip took me through the mountains of Zhejiang, especially the famous Tiantai Shan, home to an esoteric sect (known in Japan as Tendai).

After I had finished planning for this trip, I got a call from a good Indian friend--who shall be known here only as "Mr. Deep"--asking if he could tag along. I sent him my flight and hotel information, and surprisingly, he was able to make parallel arrangements. It was unusual for me to travel with anyone besides my wife Lila, but it sure was nice to have someone to split taxi fares with!

Regrettably, I did not write this account at the time of my journey. I am reconstructing it from notes and photos over two years later, so there may be some gaps or even inaccuracies. I will improve it as more information (or a better memory) becomes available. Also, there is a Facebook Album of this trip; links will be added once it has been moved to The Temple Guy.

Monday, September 12:
Dafo Temple
I met Mr. Deep at the airport (by the skin of my teeth). After the usual delays, our allegedly 7:55-10:00 flight to Ningbo took off, landing nearly on time. All of my info told me the bus to Xinchang left from the South Bus Station; it did not, and we had passed the right one (the Central Station) in the airport bus! So we had to get a taxi back to the Central, where we caught the bus to Xinchang. Off the bus, into a taxi, to Dafo Si (2:05-5:05; my #65). Way too little time to explore the valleys and grottoes. Walked (with our bags) to hotel. In room after dinner by 7:15.
  • Stayed Xinchang - Baiyun Hotel

Tuesday, September 13:
Guoqing Temple
Bus at 9:25 to Mt. Tiantai, through beautiful countryside. Taxi to hotel, checked in, and out again by 1:15 to walk to nearby temple--but we walked right past the gate (at 1:25) serendipitously finding a major pagoda and some smaller ones, all associated with the target temple (1:30-1:45) and the Tiantai Shan Buddhist Association (1:50). Finally back to Guoqing Si (2:00-4:00; my #66). Back in hotel, nap, dinner in hotel restaurant (the first of many negotiations for veg food).
  • Stayed Tiantai Shan - Tiantai Hotel

Wednesday, September 14:
Fangguang Temple
I had arranged for a rather expensive taxi ride up to today's target. We arrived at Fangguang Si (10:00-11:45; my #67) up in the mountains, where we passed the "Middle Temple" at 10:15, and were in the Upper Temple and around its waterfall from 10:25-11:05; then back to visit the Middle (there seems to be no lower) from 11:15-11:40, and out at the gate to meet the taxi by 11:45. Lunch, dawdled away the afternoon in research and posting on Facebook, dinner, and sleep.
  • Stayed Tiantai Shan - Tiantai Hotel

Thursday, September 15:
Gaoming Temple
Another expensive ride, this one to Gaoming Si (10:10-11:55; my #68) and the nearby Zhizhe Tayuan (12:00-12:40), both beautifully situated in stunning landscapes. We had the driver drop us at Guoqing Si again upon return (1:05-1:40), and then explored some small pagodas closer to the hotel until 2:10. Another relaxing afternoon.
  • Stayed Tiantai Shan - Tiantai Hotel

Friday, September 16:
Jiangxin Temple
Final breakfast in the hotel, then an 8:35 bus to Wenzhou. Arrived, checked in, got to the dock by 1:30 and were on the island of Jiangxin Si (1:45-4:25; my #69). Leaving the temple at 3:05, we visited a small pagoda with the relics of a modern monk named Muyu ("Wooden Fish"), then were at the West Pagoda by 3:15, the East Pagoda by 3:50, and in the Wen Chang temple by 4:00. Our boat left at 4:25, and by 4:35 we were on a futile search for dinner (and the Wenzhou South Railway Station, which was NOT near our hotel, as the map had suggested). Ate supermarket dinner (something Mr. Deep is apparently not used to), and retired.
  • Stayed Wenzhou - Rest Motel (Lucheng)

Saturday, September 17:
Checked out, taxi to the real Wenzhou South Railway Station for the 10:23 train to Wenzhou. When we bought the ticket we were told there would be an hour's delay; pauses along the way made us even delayed-er. But that was OK because (1) this was the train that had had a fatal collision in July, so I didn't mind them taking time to do it right, and (2) upon arrival we ran into Wendi, who had co-sponsored my first pilgrim's stay when I came to Ningbo in the summer of 2009. A nice way to tie up my visits to the province! As we had arrived in Ningbo after 2, there was no time to see anything, but by 2:20 we were enjoying Indian food in the Laowaitan area of Ningbo. Getting a taxi to the airport wasn't easy at 4-ish, so we took some buses southward until we finally hit upon a willing taxi driver. To the airport just in time for our 19:00-21:05 return to Shenzhen.

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