Tuesday, September 13, 2005

China | Gansu Province | Lanzhou #2

Left Xiahe at 7:30 in the morning for the long six-hour bus ride back to Lanzhou. I no sooner took my seat than the young Chinese woman who had sat next to me on the way here, who ended up in the room next to me at the Tara Guesthouse, and who I had seen several times doing the Khora, came on the bus and took the seat right behind me. She again flashed her 220-watt smile and again we could not communicate. She just sat in her seat quietly fingering her prayer beads. Perhaps she is part of a growing phenomenon: Chinese followers of Tibetan Buddhism.

Back in Lanzhou I quickly checked into a hotel and then headed back to Baita Park for another look at the stupa there. Today is brilliantly sunny, unlike the other day when I was there, when it was very overcast.

The Yellow River at Lanzhou

Foot bridge across the Yellow River. According to some sources this foot bridge is near the old Silk Road ford across the Yellow River used as long as 2000 years ago.

Crossing the Yellow River. The White Stupa is just visible in Baita Park on the horizon.

The 56 foot-high White Stupa supposedly built in memory of Sakya Pandita, and which may or may not be his tomb.

The next day I continued my peregrinations around Lanzhou. First I stopped by the statues of Xuanzang and the other characters from the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West located on the banks of the Yellow River. Xuanzang was of course a real person, one of the great travelers of all time, who went on a pilgrimage from Xian in China to India in the seventh century. It is believed that he crossed the Yellow River here at Lanzhou. Later he was immortalized as one of the main characters in the fictionalized Journey to the West. Although I have never consciously attempted to follow Xuanzang’s route I have crossed paths with him many times: at Bodhgaya and Nalanda in India, and at Turpan in Xinjiang.

Sandy and Xuanzang on their way to India

The immortal Pigsy, who gave up a live of dissipation to aid Xuanzang on his journey

Then I continued crosstown to Wuquan Park, passing on the way one of Lanzhou’s numerous mosques serving the large Moslem Hui population here.


Temples at Wuquan Park

Sixteen-foot high Buddha dating from the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1272-1368) in the Jingang Temple

Laughing Buddha in one of the courtyards at Wuquan Park