This weekend we went to Putuoshan (Mount Putuo), an island in the East China Sea. It is famous worldwide for Buddhists who like to make a pilgrimage here; and its temples are shrines for Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. There is even a 33 meter tall golden statue of her that can be seen from quite a distance.
Our troupe of travelers included our family and several other English teachers as well as our Chinese friend "Rebecca" who was a tremendous help in navigating us around! Going with 10 people is a bit like herding cats, but it was fun to have everyone along and they were also so helpful with the kids! From left to right: Kendall, Peter, Laura, Rebecca, Sophie, Sue, Danny, Jack, Aamir and Tim!
We started out on a 6:30 bus this morning that took us through Ningbo, and loaded us, bus and all onto a ferry to a small port city where we could catch a speedboat to the island of Putuoshan. Our friend, Kendall, also an English teacher in Hangzhou was a big hit with the kids. Sophie called her "Candle" instead, and then "Fire Candle!"
We boarded the ferry with the rest of humanity for the 45 minute crossing. What a beautiful day! Peter, Danny, Tim and Laura pictured below.
Our good friend Rebecca who did such a good job taking care of all of us laowei (foreigners!) with Chinese translation and making sure we didn't pay too much for things! She's an excellent bargainer - able to wear away the will of the most jaded salesman!
Our friend Amir who also was a great help with the kids. Any time we wanted Sophie to do something, we would say, "OK, you have to do ___, and then you can play with Aamir!"
After 5 hours on the bus (including the ferry) and a 20 minute boat ride we were on the famous island of Putuoshan! The first order of business - hit the beach! Sophie immediately stripped to her underwear - time to lube her up with some sunscreen!
The tide was way out, so Danny, Jack, Peter and Aamir traversed it looking for creatures.
Peter, Aamir, and Jack all had their "mud socks" on after traipsing through the huge slick of thick sticky mud!
I sacrificed my own feet so that I could get a shot of theirs... and I HATE having dirty feet :).
Sue is still smiling, even though she knows she's going to have 3 muddy kids and one muddy husband to clean up before we re-enter our hotel. Sophie of course loved the mud, and the Chinese on the beach were MORTIFIED we let her play in it! We had to throw out her shirt and underwear afterwards!
Peter and Jack loving the mud between their toes!
Rebecca, helping Sophie get even dirtier!
Peter and Jack, starting to wash their feet off - the giant Guanyin goddess of Mercy on the hill behind them.
A small crab that the boys tormented for awhile, waiting to get caught.
The wind was really blowing so we tried our hands at kite flying, too!
After the beach, we decided to explore some of the other island sights. Kendall and Sue posed for me in front of these charming little houses.
Aamir helped by carrying Sophie. Of course she actually LIKES being carried this way!
We snuck in a visit to this temple before it closed at 5pm and it was certainly gorgeous with its saffron paint and seaside vistas. Here are Sue and Rebecca taking in the view.
LEFT: An inscription on a rock to the Goddess of Mercy, and RIGHT: a temple doorway in the late afternoon sun.
Kendall enjoyed sitting in the sun and taking in the seaside views.
... and so did Peter!
One of the ornate walls inside of the temple...
LEFT: For good luck, you're supposed to touch the dragon on the urn or throw coins up on the top. Sophie gave it a try. RIGHT: Entering into the inner courtyard.
LEFT: The urn where people donate money, and RIGHT: a peek inside the prayer room.
The inner courtyard, catching the light of the late afternoon sun.
Gratuitous flower shot against the saffron colored walls.
OK, back outside of the temple now, I wonder which way we should go? Good thing we have Rebecca with us!
Next on our itinerary was to see the 33 meter (about 100 feet!) high statue of the Goddess of Mercy, which you can't miss seeing if you're on this side of the island!
She looks out on quite a view! To the left, the temple we just visited...
... and to the right, a little inlet where we played on the beach; at the end of which is our hotel.
LEFT: Jack doing his own Goddess of Mercy imitation, and RIGHT: a group of pilgrims on their approach. They walk about 3 steps, then kneel down in the prone position as below, then stand up, walk 3 more steps, and repeat the process. They have done this for quite a long ways. Many temples have 108 steps, or some multiple of 108 where this process will take place.
Kendall led Jack and Rebecca in some yoga. Seemed fitting in a place like this!
A carving on one of the walls of the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin.
Tim, giving the Goddess of Mercy a kiss.
More pilgrims, making their way to the base of the statue.
Here's our group - Laura, Peter, Danny, Sue, Rebecca, Jack, Sophie, Aamir and Kendall!
LEFT: The Lewis family in front of the Goddess and RIGHT: Wow! China has tourists too!
Aamir helped keep the boys in line!
... and after a long day of busses, boats, travelling, temples and goddesses, it was time to EAT! We found this little restaurant where Sophie is picking out her dinner. We had some great crab and clams and a variety of veggies with some rice. Delicious!
Tomorrow - hike to the top of Mount Putuo!