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Follow the experiences of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of Moravian College, Moravian Theological Seminary and the Comenius Center who live in or travel to China for pleasure, for business, or for study during the 2010-11 CHINA | IN FOCUS thematic year.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DATELINE Hangzhou....

by Richard L. Button

...this is an eastern China city, capital of a province. I am afraid I don't know which province, a province nevertheless. Everyone may take comfort. Holiday Inns are the same the world over — the same noisy weddings and the lounge singers!

Yesterday we were in Suzhou and went to Tiger Hill (not to be confused with the old men’s store, Tiger Hall in Bethlehem). Tiger Hill is the site of a 1000 year-old Buddhist pagoda and a former Buddhist Temple. It is a remarkable place.

Local legend says a monk picked a spot for his own burial. When he picked the spot, a rare white tiger made an appearance (hence the name of the hill). He died, was buried, and the workmen who buried him were all killed so they could not reveal the location of his tomb. People searched for years, but never found the tomb. The pagoda was built on the same location — unbeknownst to the builders. After several years, the pagoda began to lean. Workman looked for the source of the problem and found the tomb. A thousand years later, the pagoda still leans!

The grounds are extensive. Our group split up to explore the ancient grounds and various out buildings. It was beautiful, even though it was a gray day. As we gathered back at the appointed time, several of us in the group commented that tranquility came over us as we walked the grounds. The spirit of the monk is still bringing peace.

Today we got away from the tourist traps and spent an hour exploring a local market in Suzhou. Suzhou is known as the "Venice of China" because of the canal system that used to permit farmers to deliver their produce. Parts of the canal remain and we visited a canal community market. All sorts of items could be purchased...huge cucumbers about a yard long...more kinds of beans than I knew existed...boiled chicken feet...live turtles for soup...live eels...and chickens and ducks killed while you wait.

We explore more of Hangzhou tomorrow and then back to Shanghai.

Catch you later,

Dick

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