My two and a half weeks based in Guiyang, Guizhou, China in August 2014 have been on my mind quite a bit lately. Maybe it's because Chinese New Year was this past weekend. Or maybe it's because I'm really looking forward to visiting more countries in Asia - potentially as soon as later this year. Regardless, I thought it was as good a time as any to do a post about one of my favorite places we visited in Guizhou: Hongfu Temple in Guiyang's Qianling Mountain Park.
After a funicular ride and quite a few cement steps, we were greeted by some very precocious rhesus macaque monkeys just outside of the entrance to the temple.
Trying not to get too distracted by seeing wild monkeys up close, I ran to catch up with our friends, who were buying some incense to light as offerings inside the temple grounds. Packs of glittering gold incense were distributed among us, and then we were in.
After placing our offerings, we visited the temple's shrines. Hongu Temple was constructed in the late 17th century (1667), but the grounds were so well-kept that I had no idea it was that old until later. Walking among the ancient buildings, we spotted more cheeky rhesus macaques on temple roofs and admired the bright & intricately painted rafters in the temple's interior.
Jeremy - our generous friend, host, translator, and guide - told us how to be respectful (don't take photos inside the shrines, be quiet) and how to appropriately bow to the deities. After paying our respects to the best of our ability, we made donations in exchange for a few bright red lucky ribbons. Before we had entered the temple, we'd seen numerous of these crimson wishes tied to tree branches all over the mountainside. I bought one for myself, my parents, and my brother.
- In the picture on the bottom right below, you can see my newly acquired luck ribbon on my backpack walking around Qingyan Ancient Town the next day.
After getting our ribbons and passing a large group of chanting monks, we spent some time looking at the serene golden Avalokiteshvara statue pictured at the top of this post. She was surrounded by small turtles sunning themselves on the rocks of a bright green pond. Jeremy told us that those turtles had all been compassionately rescued by temple-goers from city markets.
Towards the end of our visit, we grabbed lunch on temple grounds. Hongfu Temple had an all-vegetarian lunch buffet that was, like all food in Guizhou, delicious.
Hongfu Temple was my first glimpse into a place of worship that wasn't a church or cathedral. Since this trip, I've been lucky enough to visit mosques in Bosnia & Herzegovina and even a Hindu temple in Fiji. You could definitely say that I am fascinated by other religions and how they worship. Although, I'm not sure I'll ever enjoy visiting any sacred spaces as much as I enjoyed Hongfu Temple. Mostly because, with Jeremy by our side, Emmett and I were able to understand more of the customs than anywhere else we have visited sans friend-guide extraordinaire.