Trip 3: Ji'nan (April 2-5, 2010)

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

The main impetus for this trip was an invitation from a former student (a monk) to be a "white face" on the dais at the dedication of a new temple being built by his friend. The next day we dropped in to visit at the home of Confucius, and finally on the last day I got to knock off one of my temples--at someone else's expense! I like it!

Friday, April 2:
Shenzhen-Jinan 15:05-17:25. Picked up by my friend and former student, Ven. Yan Ti, and taken to dinner with two monks and five government officers in a fancy Chinese restaurant. Head of Religious Affairs for Shandong asked me to move there and become an abbot. I said first I'd need to become a monk, and then ask my wife for permission (pointing at my ring). Big laugh. Long car ride through the countryside to Jining, where we stayed the night, arriving well after midnight.
  • Stayed Jining-Unknown hotel, booked by Ven. Yan Ti

Saturday, April 3:
Chongde Temple dedication
Breakfast at 8:30 with monks. On the dais before 10:00 for the groundbreaking of Chongde Si in Yangshan, Jinxiang County (exact site as yet unknown). Seated next to a celeb, a local boy (well, from Qingdao--same province) named Xu Shaohua (徐少华) who played the Tang monk in a TV production of "Journey to the West." Lunch around 11:00 with many monks. At first I was seated in a room with Tibetan monks, where meat was served. When I said I was veg, I was quickly moved back with my "old" friends from yesterday. This was followed by a return to the temple site at 2:00 for Shaolin Temple monks' performance. Dinner around 8:00 in hotel with monks and a Buddhist "pop star" named Gu Kai (顾凯).
  • Stayed Jining- the same unknown hotel, booked by Ven. Yan Ti

Sunday, April 4:
Home of Confucius
By cars to Qufu for lunch first, then the home of Confucius (1:15-2:00), where I walked arm-in-arm with Gu Kai, the pop star, singing "Country Roads." Yan Ti was there, as well as Master Yong Qian (永乾), his master's Dharma brother (that is, Yong Qian was ordained by the same master as Yong Xin [永信], current abbot of Shaolin Temple). By 2:45 three monks and I were dropped at the bus station for the trip to Jinan, where we parted and I was on my own for a night. After checking in, I sought out an Indian restaurant south of Daming Lake Park, near the Muslim quarter, where I wandered after dinner, around 8:00. Two of the old mosques had what looked like "ghost walls" out front; also, there were lots of mutton grillers with beer ads on their signs. And I saw a woman in full burka!
  • Stayed Jinan Motel 168 (Puli Street Shop)

Monday, April 5:
Xingguo Chan Temple
Taxi to Qianfoshan. The driver (a Buddhist) told me I'll have to climb a mountain to see Xingguo Chan Si (9:00-12:15; my #18). Afterward, at the bottom of the mountain, I discovered there was a ropeway! But I wouldn't have taken it; it was open like a ski lift - scary for a fat man! At 12:35 returned to the hotel to pick up bags at hotel, then took a bus to the airport before 1:30. At airport sometime before 4:15 for Jinan-Shenzhen flight 17:50-20:25.

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