Temple Time

Nicholas Quirke was both dissapointed and relieved that his latest venture into China’s interior was coming to end. It had been a fast moving 10 days and he was starting to feel exhausted by the pace he had set himself and the agenda that he had drawn up. There were still things to see in Suzhou and after enjoying an early breakfast at 7 am he went to Panmen Gate one of 8 land and water gates built 514BCE, during the Warring States Period, when the King of the Wu State Helu ruled Suzhou. Of the 8 gates constructed during that period over 2500 years ago, Panmen Gate is the only one in still in existence. The Ancient Pagoda dating from 247AD was a beautiful sight in the grey morning and on his arrival he spotted a sculpture of a white Ox dating from 1186 when a zen master was renovating the temple and they used the White Ox tirelessly till the work was finished. Sadly when the project finished it died and to praise its devotion the statue was commissioned and has stood there ever since. He climbed the Ancient Pagoda to the top but was barred from going out onto the balcony and take photographs or video and he found himself barking orders at the go pro to film and photo. Like the castles in England he felt the history in the bricks, though these exquisite structures seemed to speak of a greater sophistication than the clunking stone fortresses of his homeland. He did wonder though if foreigners were filled with same sense of awe when they visited the UK monuments. It was a day to see temples and once he had explored the temple and its grounds he went to see the Twin Pagodas, another really ancient surviving temple on Dinghui Temple street. These seven story, brightly coloured Song Dynasty pagodas were built in 982. The oversized iron steeples that top each pagoda is apparently a rarity among pagoda designs. Nicholas absorbed the beauty of these former places of worship and moved on to Pingjiang Street and the famed Suzhou Museum. Unfortunately he needed to have booked and there were no available spaces left. He took the opportunity to try and meet his new friend Ellie, the designer whom he had met at the opera, and had a studio there. She had invited him to drop in at any time but she was not there. He found somewhere to eat lunch on the river bank where he enjoyed vegan Jaozi, spring rolls and a mouthwatering chilled plum juice. He had promised Peng he would by him some peppermint Gao from a nearby shop which actually turned out to be 2.5 KM away and meant he was rushing back to checkout and get to the Suzhou North Rail Station which was about an hour away. He arrived with plenty of time and there were no problems getting through Security and beginning his 6 hour journey on the bullet train back to Beijing. He took the opportunity to do some writing and to start clearing up his photographs, which had burgeoned into an uncontrollable presence in his files. It was good to be reunited with Peng and they caught up with his recent exploits. It had been so tiring travelling and it was good to Going to sleep back in a familiar bed.



Leave a Reply