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R.P. BenDedek

ChengDu Ren : ChengDu SiChuan and it's People.
By R.P. BenDedek
Feb 19, 2006 - 10:45:00 AM

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Religious Icons in ChengDu
It's been a while since I did a photographic article on China, and Winter vacation this year has given me the wherewithal to provide some more articles.

Unfortunately to date, I have been too busy to write about my Spring Festival Trip to various places in Hong Hu, and my most recent trip, to ChengDu, ended on Saturday.

On Monday I commence teaching again, this time in three different campuses, and as well, return to studying Chinese at WuHan University.

As I will be in up to 38 classes per week, I will not have a great deal of time in the coming few months to compile these stories.

In the meantime, mainly because I promised a few people that they could see their photos here at Magic City, I am presenting this introductory article, as the first of what I hope will be several articles providing photos of places of interest in ChengDu.

My visit there lasted only 4 days, and my sightseeing was restricted to the actual city of ChengDu, not it's outlying districts.

Even the waiters at the Taoist Temple Tea House are Dangerous ***Zai KingsCalendar - ji ge hen da de zhang zhao pian
This young man, is an employee at the Tea House in the grounds of the Qing Yang Gong Daoist Temple in ChengDu.

The presence of a foreigner, in drawing the usual inquisitive response, also resulted in a stern admonition from the proprietor to the workers to return to their station. Not before I managed to get some photos however.

This complex is a genuine operating place of worship, that abounds in monks and other religious persons.

It has both very old temples, and some very new ones, some of which are not even completed yet.

My friend MingXing and I even ducked inside a couple of those under construction to take a few photos.

It is really amazing to see both old and young paying homage to ancestors and religious figures.

Lighting incense, kneeling, bowing and praying, they paid no attention to the foreigner(s) running around taking photos. I was not the only foreigner there at the time.

Whilst the new 'Tourist' Temples are really nice, I actually prefer the 'genuine' old ones, and their interesting aromas.

MingXing (MX for Short) and I traveled by train to ChengDu, which was an experience in itself.

I would some day like to take the 36 hour slow trip and see some of the countryside in daylight.

From what I saw in the (full) moonlight, it is well worth seeing.

The night trip was certainly colourful, since, as it occurred between the end of the Spring Festival period and the Lantern Festival, fireworks could be seen going off in the black distance, mile after mile as the train sped on it's merry way throughout the evening.

Another Taoist Mural

Taoist Temple with foreigner

Taoist monks chit chatting

Taoist Mural - exterior shot

He was as fascinated by me as I was by him.
Another temple complex we visited, was the Tibetan Temples behind the local bus station not far from the ChengDu Pearl International Hotel.

The Pearl is a 3 star hotel, which, while not much to look at from the outside, is exquisite in the foyer(s), and very good value, and additionally, not far from the Railway station and really central to all the places we visited. (Their English site is not working at the moment so do an internet search -

The Tibetan Complex was only 2 RBM entrance fee, as opposed to the 30 RMB and 60 RMB of other places.

It is a huge area, and so full of interesting people like this guy, who is obviously Daoist/Taoist. We both found each other fascinating.

There were heaps of Buddhist monks running around the place. Some of them were regular Buddhist, and some were in Tibetan dress.

There were also a variety of folk running around in traditional costumes, which ranged from the Tibetan type to the Indian type of dress.

I was fascinated by the number of regularly dressed young folk bowing to the monks, and noted that this complex includes a school.

Fascinating, friendly and Taoist (I think) at the Tibetan Temple Complex

Why did that LaoWai take our photographs??

I think this was at the Tibetan Temple Complex

Down the street opposite and a couple of blocks from the Taoist Temple, there can be found the ChengDu Du Fu's Thatched Cottage Museum Complex. The tablet to the left comes from that Museum.

More photos of Du Fu's Thatched Cottage Museum complex can be found at A Photographic Introduction to ChengDu.

Since my primary motivation in presenting this article, was to let some locals see their photographs on the internet, I thought I would include this following photo.

It was taken in the Tower of the Ten Thousand Buddhas at Du Fu's Thatched Cottage Museum Complex. MX and I were browsing around when I saw this strange item in the corner of the room.

For a second I couldn't work out what I was looking at. Then I realised it was someone sitting asleep in a chair. He was presumably there to guard the contents on this floor of the tower.

When I saw this photo on my computer I was angry with myself for taking the photo while holding a cigarette. Then it occurred to me that I wasn't smoking at the time, for you see, you can't smoke even in the park area of the Museum complex.

The security guard at work and maybe a ghost?

There are only two possible explanations for this smoke. Either it is my breath - it was a cold day. Or it is a ghost! I'll let you decide for yourself.

Over the roof tops at Du Fu's Museum Park

Pretty as a Picture.

Although I let MX choose our itinerary, after our visit to the Taoist Temple I told him that I wanted to take a walk, and we ended up walking through something akin to a 'Mall' - a walking street, which was full of buildings that were constructed with a traditional Chinese flavour. On our walk we encountered two young girls in traditional costumes being trained in the art of 'pouring Tea'.

Learning the skill of pouring a good cup of tea.

And you thought pouring tea was a simple matter. These girls had a variety of methods to practice, and a variety of different containers into which they were required to pour. They made lots of mistakes and provided a lot of entertainment for not just the foreigner, but regular folk.

Hamming it up in the ChengDu Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum.
Another area we visited was the WuHou Temple Complex, beside which is the JinLi Street Bazaar, and it was in this area that I came across Carol's Coffee House.

The Young Chef there made the most delicious pizzas I ever remember eating. This is high praise indeed, for in China, making a pizza is not such a simple matter.

Pizza base made on Rice flour is not so good. This one was obviously made on wheat. The Sauce, was of a traditional Italian flavour, and not tainted by traditional Chinese herbs and spices. Cheese is also a very difficult thing to come by in China (from my limited experience of course). It was a wonderful pizza, even if the coffee was Chinese standard.

I don't know who this 'Carole' is or was, but judging by the walls lined with photographs of foreign faces, it must be a popular gathering place for ex-pats.

JinLi Street, is an ancient street that has been famous for a long time, and a lot of the buildings are traditional wood buildings. Sitting at the table eating my pizza, I could look across the alley into another traditional restaurant's upper floor, and it gave me the feeling that I was looking at a scene from a Chinese Movie.

Making the most excellent Pizzas in the world

Somewhere in that street was a 'shooting gallery', but not one where you use rifles, but where you could practice the skill of shooting a 'Ten Arrow' Cross Bow. The young man in the picture below, fired off 20 shots and all but one hit the bulls eye. This type of bow has been around for a long time, and appears to be of such simple mechanical construction. Arrows can be fired one at a time, or if you know how, you can shoot them like a semi automatic gun, and the arrows 'fly' in rapid succession. Like modern 'shoot outs', the average effective distance in such a battle is around 3 meters.

A deadly master of the 10 chamber cross bow.

I have written many times before about the way Chinese people look, stare and point at foreigners. One afternoon MX and I were walking through the 'Mall - Walking Street', behind a couple of women and two young boys.

My two little friends in the Mall in ChengDu
One boy upon spotting me, raced a few steps and grabbed his friend. I knew immediately what he was saying, so quickly I darted around the women and ran at the boys while, with outstretched arms, I pointed toward myself. As the two boys turned to 'see the Laowai', there I was running at them, saying in Chinese, 'Me? Me? Me?'.

They screamed, ran about a metre, and then collapsed laughing. The women also burst out laughing. A little later I managed to get this shot of them. Now of course in the west, anything to do with 'Strangers & Children' is taboo. In my country now, you can't even take photos at the beach in case you accidentally snap a shot of a child.

In China however, society has more to worry about than psychological trauma, political correctness, and constant fear of sexual harassment, or worse, paedophilia. Being friendly in China, means that you are friendly. In the West, being friendly puts you under suspicion or gets you arrested.

It is such a pity that we Westerners have lost our innocence and 'joie de vivre'. We can't today even look at a child without getting into trouble. But not so with the Panda Bears.

Panda Reserve Icon
Da Xiong Mao Ji Di Panda Reserve and Research Facility, which was just two short bus rides from our hotel, is located on one edge of the city of ChengDu.

It has international recognition and is billed as the Largest Giant Panda Eco-Park in the World, and judging by the activity going on beside the current park, they are about to get very much bigger.

The advertising does warn the visitor that they may not have an easy time finding Pandas out in the open, because they just love to sleep and eat. We saw a lot of the former and nothing of the latter.

There is one photo of a panda currently at King's Calendar, and in a future article I will include some here at Magic City.

The park is quite large, and it can get quite tiring walking around. In Addition to the Giant Pandas, one can find Red Pandas, which look like (according to an American Accent I overheard), Racoons.

There are peacocks running wild, as well as black swans and other birds. There is also a butterfly museum. The Live Butterfly exhibit is unfortunately either as extinct as the butterflies under glass, or is being prepared anew in a new location.

It actually took MX and I a while to find a Giant panda, and it wasn't until after we had seen the red pandas that we 'accidently' came across a real live (presuming it was asleep and not dead) Giant Panda.

When we first came across the Red Pandas, I was asked if I wanted to hold one and have a photo taken. I declined. Later it occurred to me that my kids would throw a hissy fit if they found out that I let the opportunity pass by, so we doubled back, and donning gloves and a 'soil protector', I sat in a chair and had MX take some photos. And it only cost 50 RMB.

A fury creature holding a Red Panda

Nice Butterflies

That brings me to the end of this little introduction. I'm now going to leave you with one final photo, one that I could not resist taking. In china, one often sees incorrectly written English Signs, and occasionally they are hilarious.

Now I'm not sure that Ken will allow this photo, as it may offend some of the more conservative readers, but, as a Christian Minister Friend of mine told me years ago, 'To the pure, all things are Pure!'

The photo was taken in the Du Fu's Thatched Cottage Museum Park, inside one of the most important buildings that a man can find when sightseeing.

Dis is definitely der place Man!

The Empty Wallet

Green cedar leaves and gorgeous sun-glow
May be food for the immortals, but not for men;
The world is tough and real, my road full
Of hardship; Nothing to cook, so leaving
The well stiff with ice; Not clothing enough
So sleeping cold through the night; yet
It is bad to have one's wallet completely
Empty, so I leave a coin in it
Just to comfort me.

The Lovely Lady

The most lovely of her day
Now relegated to this back valley,
Memories of happier days buried
With her amidst wild greenery;
The fall of the capital has taken
Her brothers; not even did their
Great rank save them, or enable
Their corpses to be found;
The world has no time to waste
On the unlucky; love is like
A candle in the wind; her husband
Has found a new woman already, in
His eyes as beautiful as jade;
Leaves fold up together at dusk,
The wild duck does not sleep alone;
Her man sees his new favourite
Smile, but does not hear
His old one weep;
In the mountains the water flows
Well and clear; but down on the easy
Plains, it grows muddy; she has sent
Her maid to sell bits of jewellery for food,
Then returning, help her to pull vines
And mend the broken hut;
She picks a flower, though not
To wear in her hair; cuts a bundle
Of pine branches; there is chill
In the air and her sleeves of coloured cloth
Are thin; yet unheeding, she stands
Leaning against a bamboo,
Watching the sunset.

Du Fu Selected Poems Translated by Rewi Alley Foreign Languages Press 2001


More Photographic Stories from Chengdu

Hamming it up in the ChengDu Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum.
R.P.BenDedek is the pseudonym of the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (, and is a guest columnist at Magic City Morning Star News. An Australian, he currently teaches Conversational English in China.

Photographic Stories From China

"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls.

© Copyright 2002-2013 by Magic City Morning Star

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