Monday, February 9: Our last stop at Shibao Shan is the fabulous Baoxiang Temple, also known as “Suspending Temple.” It was built at the end of the 13th century, when Yunnan was formally integrated into the Chinese Empire.
We climb a lot of steps through a monkey community to get to the temple. We’ve heard the monkeys can be quite aggressive and that people have been injured by them, but we’re lucky that they don’t bother us.
We come to a huge rock where Chinese characters have been carved into the face. I can imagine it says the name of the temple, but since I can’t read Chinese, I don’t know.
Finally, we pass through the main entrance, flanked by two white elephants.
Immediately, we can see the huge cliff looming over us, with its new statues of Guanyin and Maitreya, the smiling Buddha, on the cliff ledges.
On either side of the two figures are two smaller temples built into the cliff face.
Inside the halls are folk figures playing music in the countryside; they are accompanied by wildly patterned dragons and birds.
Luckily, it’s easy to climb up to the ledges to explore the temples and Buddha figures more closely.
Someone has a carefully tended potted garden in one of the temple courtyards down below.
I have always wanted to go to the Datong Hanging Monastery, and since I don’t know if I’ll be able to get there during my time in China, maybe this will serve as the next best thing.
We climb the steps to the ledges and wander around for a long time, enjoying the views over Shibao Shan and the interesting interiors and exteriors of the temples. There is hardly anyone here, except for us, the monkeys, a few Buddhist worshippers and some temple-minders.
It’s getting late in the day, so we meet our driver at the bottom of the steps. He drives us back to Shaxi as the sun is setting. We walk into the town, go to our hotel for a bit of a rest, and then go out for dinner at Mint Cafe, where we ate lunch earlier today. I have some egg and vegetable soup because I feel like soup will settle my stomach. But I add French fries to the order, which probably isn’t helpful.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll leave Shaxi, taking the bus back to Jianchuan (which Alex dreads because of the motion sickness he got on the way here), and then on to Dali. 🙂