After our visit to the Giant Panda Breeding Base, the Missus' cousin drove us down to Wenshu Temple to spend the rest of the day.
The crowd was interesting, the tourists being a mix of typical wanna see folks and actual true believers. A cloud of incense smoke rose above the buildings and courtyards of the monastery.
For some reason it was the wooden depiction of the Hindu Avatar, Matsya that grabbed my attention.
According to the Hindu scriptures, a devotee of Vishnu named Satyavrata was at a river washing his hands when a tiny fish jumped into them. This tiny fish pleaded for his life so Satyavrata took him home and placed him in a jar which the fish eventually outgrew. Over time the fish kept growing, moving from the jar to a pond and ultimately became the "biggest of all fish". The fish instructed Satyavrata to take it down to the ocean where it revealed itself to be an incarnation of Vishnu and warned Satyavrata of an impending flood instructing him to build a ship.....yes, a Hindu version of the Great Flood. Satyavrata became known as Manu (The First Man).
After walking the grounds for a while we gathered and headed off to one of the two tea houses on the grounds of the monastery.
In contrast to the low hum of the temple area, you could hear the rather raucous laughing and yelling as we approached.
This tea house was much different from the rather sedate one we visited before, where we saw the monks bumming cigarettes from folks.
Folks bought a cup of tea and maybe some snacks, they keep refilling your cup with hot water as many times as you want. Folks were reading, napping (in spite of the racket, some people were indeed crashed out), playing cards, games......folks just seem to be plain enjoying themselves. Shells from sunflower seeds flying about....even the birds here are pretty aggressive, flying right onto your table to take "their cut" of the profits.
Of course, after about four cups of tea, the inevitable happened....I needed a restroom, which is how I came across the worst restroom of our trip to China. No mean feat, as anyone who has been to China knows, there are contenders everywhere. But this one took the crown by a wide margin. As I walked to the toilet, I could already make out the ammonia like smell. I had thoughts of finding a bush somewhere, but banished them immediately. This was a monastery, what would my punishment be in Naraka be if I peed on a bush! I took shallow breaths as I walked into the lavatory and was amazed at the sight of the trough....it was a trough, with a trough.....a almost even pool about a half inch deep and three feet wide of liquid(take a guess) surrounded the trough. Dozens of beetles and insects performed synchronized swimming demonstrations in the pool. What the heck was I to do? In the end, I did as probably most everyone else did, I stood well clear of the pool, hoped my ab muscles worked ok and fired away...... As I stumbled out of the lavatory, a young man entered, (all these folks drinking tea, what else was going to happen?) he came to a stop a couple feet in front of me, halted by the wall of ammonia. I could feel his pain. I really felt icky and when I sat down next to the Missus I whispered to Her:
"Do I smell like pee?"
"Why, did you pee on yourself?"
"No, but I feel like I've just walked through a cloud of it. Whatever you do, don't go to the bathroom!"
After what happened the last time She didn't heed my advice....She cut down on how much tea She was drinking.
About twenty minutes later the teahouse started closing and emptied out pretty quickly. I loved the way they stacked the chairs.
Our destination for dinner was to be the at the vegetarian restaurant on the monastery grounds.....vegetarian? Monastery? Food like what the monks eat? Really????
The place was fairly clean, looking like many of the other restaurants we ate at during our trip.....
Suddenly a friendly looking, middle aged gentleman walked up to our table. The Missus proclaimed, "oh, he made it!" So who was he? Another uncle or relative joining us for dinner? So I asked the Missus:
"Who is he?"
"He's here for you?"
"Yeah, while you went to the restroom, I asked the ear cleaner in the tea house to come over and clean your ears, but they closed before he could get to you. So he came over here to finish the job."
"Finish the job?"
"Aaaah, don't worry, that's the good thing about ears, you have two. One gets messed up you still have another!"
I wasn't too keen on having anyone without "MD" after their name putting anything smaller than their elbow in my ear, but what the heck, the Missus was right after all, eh? eh? eeehh?
It was kind of strange at first.....having someone probing around in your (insert orafice of choice) ear.
Notice the young lady in the photo. She is the oldest daughter of the Missus cousin. Mesmerized by what was taking place and the possibility of gore and bloodshed as well I assume. After all, it's not everyday that you see a relative you've never met before get his brain punctured through his ear canal..... Actually, the amount of awe and attention made me nervous. I really don't think this is something that is a normal part of everyday life here......
But this guy really was a pro......
And when it seemed that the potential for bloodshed was diminished the young lady sat back down with her sisters. The ear cleaner told the Missus that my ears were really clean, but that my right ear canal was red and irritated, which is true. I told the Missus, "tell him I know that, it's the ear you yell into all the time....."
The only thing that felt really weird was when he put the vibrating tuning fork to the ear probe...it sent a huge buzz that I felt to my bones through me. It actually gave me "chicken skin".
In the end, this was an interesting experience.....don't know if I'd do it again, but the guy was very professional.
After that, the meal seemed somewhat anti-climatic. The standard of vegetarian dishes was fairly high, but as with most of these type of restaurants was really varied.
The plain vegetable dishes are the easiest to take as well as being the most "safe", but aren't much better than what you'd get else where.
Of course there are the obvious bean curd dishes. This wasn't too bad.
I loved the Cherry Peppers in this dish, nice sweet-spicy. Interesting dish overall, those faux squid things are basically an after-thought.
The sizzling rice was actually quite good.
The rest of the items weren't to my taste. The faux sweet-sour fish was too mushy, too sweet, and I didn't care for the texture.
Since our flight was early in the morning, we stayed in Chengdu. After being dropped off at our hotel we decided to take a walk around the area......I'm pretty sure there was a college or university around because on one of the side streets.....
Too bad we were too full to partake....
But this just means we'll have to return someday.