Eve Bohnett

Eve Bohnett

Road Trip Garzi, Sichuan

Published in China

I left Yaqing in a car with one monk and a Chinese girl and several others. We were going to give our respects to a higher lama. It ended up taking 3 hours. We went to one temple and he wasn’t there, and then we went to another temple situated up on a hill. There was an old man living in his original home which had been somewhat enshrined in the new building. They also gave respects to their lineage. Afterwards we went to the area below with several tents. We arrived and they were serving some bread and yogurt for lunch. We sat, had tea, and waited for the lama to finish his lunch and then we got to sit with him for a few moments and ask for blessings. I really liked the journey, even though it was out of oru way. Then we went to Ganzi. The landscape along the way was beautiful. I dozed off for most of the trip. We arrived and I said goodbye. I found a car for the next day to Ganzi. Afterwards, I walked to a hotel, and at the same time another lady walked up. We ended up sharing a room together. We went to eat at the Tibetan restaurant and had tea, dumplings, and yogurt with buckwheat powder. Afterwards, we went to the hotsprings together and did a soak in the pool. It was really nice company.

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Yaqing Si, Sichuan

Published in China

I arrived to Yaqing. I got into the car with a monk at Baiyu. They loaded the car full of as full of stuff inside and outside the car. A cute old couple sat in the back and I sat next to two men. We drove the full four hours to a small town.  I arrived and immediately the group started to jump out of the car to pick up the small black caterpillars. I had no idea what they were doing. Eventually, I realized they were saving the caterpillars from being run over in the road. I went to Yaqing hotel, which only had rooms for 120. I had lunch in the little chine restaurant next door. I ended up walking across the campus to a different hotel which allowed me to sleep upstairs in their cafeteria for only 25 kuai. I was going to sleep on their maroon I passed by the temple which had a loudspeaker of some of the people chanting inside. It reminded me of some of the muslim areas that I had visited. Then I got to the hostel. I slept on some of their chairs.

 

 

After I checked in, I headed to the main monestary again where I heard the chanting and I took photographs. The entire hall was full of monks. I had no idea what was going on or if this was a normal occurrence. They were all chanting in unison with the buddhas all over the walls. I watched them get served yogurt and tea, and then they arranged the small round things with the rice, fuck I forget what all of this stuff is called. I sat there for an hour or more with them while they chanted. It was truly incredible. Afterwards,  I went to get some snacks and ended up getting some sweets from a handmade Chinese sweet shop. They were tasty. I walked over to the area with the nuns and as I arrived and sat down, shortly afterwards they all got up, so I followed them. They began to line up and there were a few ladies in the front with conch shells and the large reed instruments. They started walking, and lining up, all of the nuns came out of the temple together and threw on a yellow shawl. They started walking somewhere, and I had no idea where they were going. We walked around the field together with the oboes blaring. It was a big circle.  There was a big festival happening for the death of a famous lama. So there were more than the usual people here. Afterwards I went to eat dinner and a nice Tibetan girl sat with me and ate dinner. Then I went to sleep. I woke up in the morning and went back to the temple and then to the nunnery. I sat with the nuns and they offered me some of their tea. I left and went to a temple where they were offering butter lamps. I ate some noodles for breakfast. I went and did some prayer wheels. I went back to the hostel for a moment and then decided to leave because they were burning plastic in the wood burning stove again. I had to get up so I left to explore some more buildings, and eventually got some baozi snacks and fried bread. After a while of resting then I took a long walk over to the neighboring village which was made in a rock quarry. They had a lot of rocks they were pounding into smaller piece with axes. I wanted to see the small temples up there, but it seems that it had disappeared once I got over there. I got a ride back to the temple. I walked to some of the temples that I hadn’t seen yet, like the lama’s temples and their paraphernalia. I walked to the top where guru Rinpoche was and watched the nuns circle around the grasslands from the hill above. I wanted to see the head lama of the temple speak and then I walked around until he started class. I attended class for a short while. Then I went to get a closer look at the main temple now that all of the people were gone. It was beautiful. There was still rice on the floor.. I tried to similarly see the nunnery but it was closed.

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Kangding, Sichuan

Published in China

I got to Chengdu and walked around in the park. I got sick in the car because one of the men was smoking like a chain smoker and there was a young girl who was sick. I read a book and processed some photos on the train. I ended up catching her cold and wanted to sleep in the hostel in Chengdu for the rest of the day, but instead I got a coffee and wanted to go for  a walk and process photos. I walked around a tiny market across the street and next to the Wuhousi temple. Since I found the history of Wuhou si unappealing for the ticket price, I decided to walk down the market street next to it. Jinli alley or something like  that which had a lot of interesting boutique shops, but nothing unlike the same exact street in Beijing or Shanghai that the tourists walk down. I walked a street parallel to the one where the hostel was and it was filled with Tibetan shops and restaurants. I ate at a pure tibeetan restaurant and had some beef soup and a small bread that was like a thick pancake mantou, but overall very tasty and somewhat fluffy and dense. After that I did eventually go back to the hostel and did some processing, and fell asleep at normal time. I went to Kangding the next day on the bus. I arrived and was too tired to do much of anything, but I managed to check into the hostel and go walk around town to a Tibetan restaurant, which was on the 6th floor of an apartment building, but inside was a lavish Tibetan decorations. I didn’t sleep all night due to bed bugs in the room. The food was a buckwheat beef soup, and some beef, potatoe, and rice. I was still sick and tired. The next day I woke up late feeling still a little sick and went to the two temples in town, Wufasi, which were both incredible works of art. I walked the wrong road to get there, which was actually a highway, and the huge loaded semi’s filled with construction materials were annoying and troubling. The city as well was going through tons of construction. I was quite impressed. I went back to the hostel and slept for a few hours due to lack of sleep the night before. I woke up and went to the hot springs. I soaked for an hour and had a very deep meditation. I was quite impressed.

I had dinner at a Mao Cai restaurant and then ended up going back for another hour long soak which helped cleanse my skin immensely. I got on the bus the next day to go to Dege. The ride was incredible, and one of the best rides I have ever taken. The landscape was stunning green rolling hills dotted with the kham style Tibetan buildings. It was like Tibetan mansions and grasslands and hilly mountains, which then grew to being terrifying huge mountains and a drop off of hundreds of meters down the side of the mountain in a bus. I enjoyed the ride so much watching the temples and houses go by, the herds of yaks getting in the way and the azure lakes in the distance, which were breathtaking in such nice weather. I only wished I had my camera, but some parts of it were so amazing I might never forget. I had never seen Kham before, so the difference between Amdo was really obvious. I had no idea they were so drastically different. I got to Dege and the whole place was a huge construction site, and there were a few traditional houses, but for the most part the majority of the small valley had been converted to apartment buildings and hotels. I was stayed in a really terrible hostel with no security and didn’t feel safe there. I left in the morning to go to Baiyu. I got there and it took over an hour to find a hotel for less than 50 kuai after the temple told me there was no guesthouse there. I spent the entire afternoon at the temple and a few of the monks befriended me. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to buddy up to the monks here because of the language barrier, but we did quite well. One of the monks helped me open all the doors to the temple, and told me about the latest reincarnation that lived on the temple on the top of the mountain. The schedule was strict for weekend visitations only and it was Wednesday. It was incredible to see all of the deities, especially Padmasambhava, whom I hadn’t been seen by in deity form since the US. The reconstructions were so beautiful. I ate a traditional Tibetan pot pie and some milk tea for dinner. I’m heading to yaqing si tomorrow hopefully and then onward to ganzi, Dzogchen monestary, and then the litang horse racing festival.

 

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Songshan and Shaolin temple, Henan

Published in China

After Wudang Shan, I went to go get on the train to go to Luoyang. I got on the train with no problems. I made it to Luoyang and the heartland international hostel was perfect. Shaolin temple was a two hour bus trip and I decided to go the next day for three days. I should have simply taken the bus directly from the train station which is adjacent to the bus station. I thought I would go to Luoyang grottos or do something, but with costs these days and budgets I decided to simply stay in the hostel. I got a bus ticket to Dengfeng where the next hostel would be at. I arrived to the hostel and ate lunch at a noodle restaurant next door. I took the bus to the Zhongyue temple, which is one of the earliest Daoist temples. I toured the entire complex and stayed for the ceremony in the evening. Afterwards, I visited the temples across the street which were little old ladies houses and properties that they unlocked to show a deity of Wangmu Niang Niang with a big pot of tang, and some other lady deities. Then I went behind the Zhongyue temple where there were numerous other temples like the Long wang temple, and a few other small neighboring temples. Then there were nice nature hikes behind the temple, and a pavilion up on the hill, which I hiked up to and found a monk stringing the beads for the hat for Zhongyue. He was strict with me about not taking photos, but they all say that and so I record video in secret. I looked around and then sat down and chatted with him for a few moments about school and what I was doing with my life. He seemed to take good care of the temple. I hiked back down and got on the bus. 15 minutes into the bus ride it started torrential rainfall for several minutes. I got off the bus just as it ended and went back to the hostel, satisfied with my half day of exploration.

 I decided the next day to visit Shaolin Monestary. There was a group from the hostel who were all going together so there was a car ready for us. We got dropped off in the back part of the complex and hiked in for 5 hours to get to the temple. I stayed with the group for a while, and then left the group to walk on my own, at times meeting up with them. I managed to go a lot faster than them by 15 minutes, and saw them at lunch. One of the older Chinese guys was fun to talk to in Chinese about various things in life.  I enjoyed his company, and he was slightly annoying. I can’t seem to find Chinese men attractive at all. Most of them I could never imagine being in a relationship with. I don’t understand how so many American men can date Chinese women. I have no interest in the Chinese men I meet either physically or socially. I never feel like I’m going to meet someone here and the environment is really polluted and toxic. The scenery is spectacular on the trail here in this moment, but it is cloudy, and I know there’s a lot of ambient pollution in the air. I walk alone down the trail past the men making the new railing for the side. They are soldering some of the rods together to build the railing piling concrete. It seems like a horror movie trying to run through the construction site with the sparks flying everywhere, and it happened to be in the darker part of the mountain where the stream was. If I was a young child, I would have been scared to death to cross the site as it seemed dangerous with no care for the pedestrians or the workers. There are amazing geological formations and cliffs in the area. It was so fascinating to see and the fog had receded enough to see the view of the landscape. The temples on the outcroppings and all of the spectacular rock formations. I’m still amazed by what I saw there. It is truly incredible. After several hours of hiking there was finally the pagoda forest, and then the shaolin temple. I toured the temple and then joined in the ceremony for the evening full moon ceremony. The monks were wearing bright orange robes and on the full moon, the hall is filed with monks, so there are not only the 5 people chatting as usual, but more like 20 or so chanting. The abbot let me into the hall, and I was the only one participating who was not part of the temple. I was let in beyond the barriers for the tourists. I stayed there chanting with the monks for 20 minutes. It was incredible to be in the temple with them standing there. I did manage to make a small video. I was the only female and the only foreigner in the hall. As I was leaving the temple I joked with some monks about becoming the first foreign lady to join the temple, after they told me that females were not allowed to join and the complex was only for males I had to tease a bit. Then I told them I was joking and not even interested. I think it would be too physically demanding because of how they train their bones it can be very traumatic. I’ve seen so many shaolin performances since having come to China and they are mostly young guys with incredible ability trained since they were young. Many of the monks I talked to were my age, and had come to the temple only a few years before, so many of them do live there to train later in life as well. It seems like those who really want to live there can live there and train if they like to work that way and live a humble life of a monk. After I left the temple, I came to the training grounds for the young boys. There were three boxing rings setup and then hundreds of young boys wearing read uniforms sitting in chairs or bleachers. There were fights going on and everyone was watching. The fighting seemed really unprofessional, with a lot of dirty moves that I couldn’t even stand to watch, so I left and walked out. I got a shuttle bus back into town, and then the bus back to the hostel before dark. 

 

 

 

 

The next day I went to the Taichishan part of the mountain which was across from the hostel. I thought I was going to Confucius’s old academy, but had taken a wrong turn and wound up going up the mountain immediately skipping the academy. It was a long walk in and I finally reached a couple of Taoist temples run by a few old ladies. I got to the ticket office and paid 50 kuai to get into the main part of the mountain. The first temple complex was for Laomu cave, in which there were several incredible deities. The ladies in the temple wanted to know why Americans hated China and we immediately got into a heated conversation. They let me look around at the temple caves. There were people outside burning huge offerings in the urns. This temple seemed very active, with many people and paraphraneilia. I told the ladies Americans liked the Chinese, but they had to defend the islands that belonged to other countries like the Philippines. I said that most Americans felt good about Chinese people in general. Then they gave me a huge bag of fruit and snacks. I was confused why they gave me so much fruit and snacks to eat when I had to hike up the mountain. They told me it was an apple for peace, which pingguo for pingan sound the same in Chinese. So it was sweet for them to offer me so many things. I started to walk up to the next temple feeling quite weighed down by the snacks. I got to the temple upstairs with a huge temple for Laozi. The monk was very nice to me and when it started pouring down rain we got to chatting. I couldn’t always understand what he was saying. He gave me a dragon fruit and I ate it. He saw I had a huge bag of snacks. I have no idea why he gave me the fruit after I told him about the snacks. I thought it was funny. The rain poured for a while and he tried to talk me out of hiking the mountain, but I went anyway. I’m happy it was raining because it is so much cooler and nicer to enjoy the weather that way. Hiking up the mountain there were many other Taoist temples, and one in particular that sat on a waterfall. After several hours of hiking I made it to the 1400 ft summit. It was completely overcast. I met up with the same guy I had met the day before and he followed me around like a puppy again. Eventually we split ways when we had found the trail. I ended up following the advice of two girls who said they were going down the mountain. Apparently they were wrong, and we ended up at a cave. The water started pouring so badly that I stayed in the temple with a few ladies and we talked for a long time about university life in the US where their friends kids were at. We talked for nearly a half an hour about the schools and about my life, simple questions usually, always the same kind of stuff. They are always curious about me when they realize I can speak Chinese. After the rain the clouds had broken and I could see the view. It was an incredible view of the cityscape of Dengfeng below. I hurried down the mountain as fast as possible because of the rain, and taking a few photos of the now visible landscape. I met up with my friend who invited me to dinner that night. We spent a few hours getting off the mountain crossing the ferocious rivers. We went to hotpot. He got a bottle of wine. We went to get foot massage. I fell asleep. He tried to forcibly kiss me and I pushed him away. It’s terrible how men act when they are pushy and have no manners. Men need to learn how to get consent or at least ask. Awful manners. I was in a bad mood after that. I fell asleep at the hostel.

 

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