Initially I had planned to go from Nanjing directly to Beijing but seeing that travel in China was easier than I thought, I decided to visit the ancient Song Dynasty (960 - 1126) capital of Kaifeng and Luoyang's Longmen caves on the way. An overnight train brought me here at 7:00 am, I dropped my packpack at the Dajintai hotel and set off on foot. My first stop was at the Xiangguo Temple originally established in 555 and rebuilt several times since.
Today's Xiangguo Temple is a large establishment which appears to be a school for buddhist monks. A succession of courtyards leads to three main buildings and several minor pavilions built in 1766.
I managed to take this picture of the three Buddhas Amitabha, Sakyamuni and Maitreya in spite of the presence of a number of young monks (which led me to surmise that this was some sort of school). Service to the faithful and training new monks might have been part of the temple's vocation but that did not preclude its role as a tourist attraction as witnessed by the availability of souvenir shops and of Song costumes for tourists to be photographed in.
No, this building next door to the Xiangguo temple is not another temple, it's a large department store. Those of you who can read Chinese would have known that right away but I had to go in before I realized it. Market or temple, it was a fine building anyway! I should have guessed however because of the two large parking lots full of bicycles right and left of this picture.
This bicycle parking lot drew my attention and I went into this modern plain building that turned out to be the local Securities Market! Again, I should have guessed because of the people studying stock quotation sheets and the bull and bear statues in front!
The great historical Xiangguo temple was almost empty, the traditionally styled department store was fairly busy but the local stock exchange was crowded and in full swing. The Great Helmsman Mao would be turning over in his mausoleum if he could to see how the communist ideal has been replaced by capitalist greed in the eyes of his countrymen only a score years after his death!
I walked a long way to get here and was sorely disappointed to find that the Kaifeng Museum was closed for repairs!
It was a nice day so I walked north on the causeway separating the east and west halves of Beogong lake. Kaifeng, which is a relatively small city, had no less than seven beautifully cared for lakes surrounded by gardens where people could get a breath of fresh air and escape from their crowded living quarters.
I felt intensely envious that all the Chinese cities had large well landscaped lakes and gardens while the park areas of our western concrete and asphalt cities came nowhere near the relative extension given to greenery in China.
I walked and I walked until I came to more lakes in the northern part of the city. Urban lakes are definitely a part of the Chinese culture. I just had to take this shot of this bridge on the causeway between Yangjia and Panjia Lakes before crossing it on my way north.
Still on the causeway to Longting Park I was tempted to board one of these dragon boats to rest my feet by taking a tour on Yangjia lake but the day was getting on and I still had a lot to see...
The landscaping and arrangements were superb and designed to gratify the eyes with exquisite perspectives like this otherwise useless gate on the causeway leading to Longting Park
After walking all day and covering more than ten kilometers in the hot sun, it took an effort to climb these steps to see the Dragon Pavilion in Longting Park. By then it was late afternoon and I called it a day for I was heading for Luoyang on the next day.