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Sunday, July 9, 2006

Bie Chuan Chan Temple

A visit to a Chinese temple

See a Gallery of images from Bie Chuan Chan Temple

One of my main purposes for being in China is to study religion. One major component of this is visiting temples.  (And there's a great temple stay coming up; stay tuned for more info.) So it was with great delight that I accepted an invitation from my good Dharma Friend Wang Fu Qing, and his wife and son, to travel with them and our monk friend Luohan to northern Guangdong province in April of 2005.

It was my first time out of Shenzhen and into the "real" China: the first time I saw oxen pulling plows, and little country villages, and the city center of an older Chinese city.  The trip included stops at three temples: Dajian Temple in central Shaoguan; the world-famous Nanhua Temple just south of Shaoguan; and Bie Chuan Chan Temple in the Dan Xia Shan scenic area (a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site) north of Shaoguan.

I hope to write about the other two later (I mentioned Nanhua briefly on June 23), but for now I will concentrate on Dan Xia Shan.  And "write" isn't exactly the word: Mostly I'm going to show you pictures.

I have built a gallery on LiveJournal*.  Usually such materials are placed on my The Temple Guy site.  But I am currently rebuilding the structure of that site, and I don't want to put anything else on there until that's done.  So LiveJournal it is.

*The site is now defunct; but I have rebuilt the gallery--from notes--on my "The Temple Guy" site.

But aside from the "pure experience" of the temple visit, I wanted to tell you something else about Dan Xia San.

The Chinese are becoming increasingly savvy about marketing, and this is nowhere more apparent than in the way they "pump up" their tourist sites.  Nevertheless, it was with some surprise that I noticed, just next to the gate to this vaunted "Unesco World Heritage Site," a sex museum.

A what?!

[Note: According to this site the museum at Dan Xia Shan is one of the six branches of the China Sex Museum, whose main "campus" is in the town of Tonglli, 80 kilometers west of Shanghai. 2023: Both links gone.]

Yup.  And it wasn't until I got home that I found out why.

In visiting the temple, we bypassed any sightseeing amongst the rock formations themselves (though one beautiful formation added drama to the horizon as viewed from the temple; you'll see it in the gallery).  So I didn't realize that some of the formations were quite... uh... INteresting.

Here are two pictures I swiped from other people's sites:

Remind you of anything?

Put the Chinese name of Dan Xia Shan--丹霞山--into an image search engine (such as Google or Yahoo) and you'll see lots of views of these.

So THAT'S what was going on with the sex museum at the gate.  "Gold and women"--money and sex.  Hard to escape, even on the way to a Buddhist Shangri-La.

See the Bie Chuan Chan Temple Gallery

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