Thursday, April 23, 2009

A temple visit: Coming soon: DQ, McDonald's

We haven't seen many overt signs of religion in China, at least not the way it's visable in other Asian countries such as Thailand or Cambodia with their elaborate Buddhist temples. But the Chinese do practice Buddhism, along with Taoism and even a form of state-controlled Catholicism.

This Buddhist temple in Xian, the Dacien Si, is an oasis of calm in a hectic city. The centerpiece is the seven-story Big Goose Pagoda built at the request of a Tang Dynasty monk to house sacred texts he brought back from a pilgramage to India. Above is an image of the "Happy Buddha.''

Unfortunately the area surrounding the pagoda is about to be turned into a major tourist mecca. Under construction is a Westin Hotel and a shopping complex with a Subway, DQ, Baskin- Robbins and McDonald's, all of which are hugely popular in China. So is Walmart which appears to stock the same cheap junk in China as it does in the U.S.

We spent a couple of hours wandering through the pagoda gardens. Tom appears to be chatting up these monks, but they were just talking to each other, apparently oblivious to his presence.

If things don't work out at The Times, I'm thinking of applying for a job translating signs into English. The Chinese love rules. There's usually a long list posted in front of any attraction or public place. This one above was posted next to the ticket window at the pagoda.

Another one warned that it is "forbidden to litter up the floors with trashes.''

Thinking of "scrabbling up the buildings or trees?'' The fine will be "no less than five yuan (about 75 cents) and no more than 50.'' That's a maximum fine of around $7.50...hmm...could be worth it.

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