Monday, October 20, 2008
Today we went back to Suzhou. We had the same translator/guide, Jessica. We wanted to see a Buddhist temple and this was a good one. It is one of only 4 in all of China with all 500 statues of the Arhots, or disciples. There were large statues of Buddha and the creator of Buddhism, and several other of their gods. We couldn't take any pictures of them, or inside the temple where the statues were, but it was pretty impressive. There were several monks that live in this temple area, and many visitors coming to bow and worship at the feet of each of the statues. They also leave offerings of flowers or fruit on the alters, and then stick a coin in the slot so their prayers will be heard. Jessica is not Buddhist, but the tour guide at the temple tried to explain and answer all of our questions and then Jessica had to figure out how to translate all of it into english. It was really interesting. The religion comes from India, and all of the statues had Indian faces, except one, which was adopted from Chinese folk lore. Usually people will come to the temples on the first day of the Lunar calendar, but today it was pretty slow and quiet, so we could take our time looking.
This pond is right behind the temple and they have two ancient tortoises in there. They don't come out often because they are huge (2 meters long) so if you catch a glimpse of one, it is good luck and longevity. We didn't stay long enough to see either of them...we also didn't spend much time in the temple of the goddess of fertility ; )