temples: daci temple

so, i’ve blogged about food, and i’ve blogged about pandas … what’s next? temples. mount qingcheng had taoist temples, but there were plenty of buddhist temples in and around chengdu as well. first, we’ll look at daci temple, which is located in downtown chengdu. daci temple was built approximately 1600 years ago, and is now surrounded by high-rise buildings. the day i visited, there was some kind of celebration going on, possibly related to the mid-autumn festival (what we think of us the mooncake festival). the place was mobbed with people lighting candles and burning incense, listening to a buddhist monk…

more about food

in my first post, i mentioned sichuan hot pot. hot pot is a meal of meats and vegetables cooked on skewers in boiling, flavored oil. the best hot pot restaurant i visited had a brightly-lit refrigerated room full of food – as elegant as anything i’d find at trader joe’s, if trader joe’s did hot pot – and aprons on the back of each chair. most of the time, it was obvious what the meat on the skewer was. but not always; just because something is “chicken” doesn’t mean it’s the part of the chicken i normally eat. this was…

playing outside

after a week, i returned to chengdu, to begin work. the state department measures the quantity of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and suspended particulate matter in the air at its china missions and publishes an air quality index daily.  for most of the time i was in chengdu, the air was rated “unhealthy,” with index values over 150 and particulate matter concentrations of 50 μg/m3. (as of the date that i’m writing this, the aqi in chengdu is 186; by comparison, the new york city region’s aqi is 38.) i was warned off exercising outside, but even just walking…

the front side of mount qingcheng

mount qingcheng is one of the most important centers of taoism in china. according to myth, it was where the yellow emperor, a legendary ancient chinese ruler studied with ning fengzi, an also legendary taoist teacher. there are temples all the way to the top, 1,260 meters above sea level. first, we have gates: the main gate to the park, the entrance to jianfu palace, and some temple gates. there was a lot of up to get to the good views. the sign next to the monkey reads “hey, kids, your parents keep saying ‘we’re almost at the top,’ but you’ve only…