Temple Tour

Nicholas Quirke was feeling pleased with himself when he woke on 21 July 2020. He had been anxious about completing a writing assignment which his sister had rigourously proof read for him and had a message from the client who was delighted with the outcome and in gratitude paid him more than they had agreed, which was a gesture that really touched him. With his mind freed he started to thinks about the week and where he should now go. With more places accessible to him visiting some of the less celebrated sites, including temples seemed like an interesting plan. Peng shared two nearby locations where he had grown up and in the extreme heat of 35 degrees he began his exploration. The first White Cloud Temple which was associated with a Taoist teaching school was closed but he was able to get a good look at the decaying spirit wall and enabled him to have a short conversation with a passing local and a couple of older ladies said hello and giggled. He cycled onto the next Tianning Temple which also turned out to be closed but he got some nice photos and headed to a tea rooms which were next to the temple. Though he had to take a very circuitous route into a a technology innovation park, the former site of a thermal power plant whose relics had been turned into sculptures. The dominating feature of the park being the towering phallic symbol that was an iconic chimney. Nicholas always favoured a dystopian landscape and he was grateful that the Chinese seemed to revere their technological past and enshrine the redundant artefacts accordingly. It felt too hot to cycle home and he walked instead, crossing a river and even going off map when he realised a detour would take him through the Arts Park of Guang’anmen. The access to the park was easy, but when he heard the word Laowai echoing behind him, he knew he was back in territory where his racial identity was his discerning feature. He never felt threatened, or abused; perhaps being a white, older male was still tainted with privilege, but he did get some sense of what it must feel like to be a person of colour and what a disadvantage that can be. He once again encountered a chorus of singers practising in a pavilion on the lake and enjoyed their lusty singing style. He was dripping wet from the humid heat when he got back top the apartment and a red bean ice lolly soothed the fever. He felt more awake though and they were able to watch the end of the intriguing ‘Bacarau’. It had been announced that cinemas in Beijing would open again on Friday and they scanned the cinemas to find a suitable film. There were still no confirmed dates and it was likely to be mostly old film, but as they were going away for the weekend he would have to wait till next week before he got the opportunity to sit in the dark again. In the meantime he settled for sleeping in the dark.

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