Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Suzhou and Disillusionment

Suzhou is a nice day trip out of Shanghai. I guess maybe I spending the night there might be nice, but I pretty much walked around, and I do mean around, the city's sights in about six hours. A little more time and I might have stopped in and seen a few more of the gardens for which the city is famous. It's gardens are listed on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites.

I have to say, though, that after having traveled through a fair bit of China, it can get a bit expensive. It is not so much the transportation, accommodations, food, or any one thing in particular, but the combination of them all together.

One thing that does stand out as being an inordinately large portion of the total cost is entrance tickets to sights. This park requires a ticket, that garden another, this temple actually requires two tickets. You (me anyway) almost feel entry-ticketed to death.

And the price of these entry tickets are not that much cheaper than in other countries. Also, I have to say, in my opinion, with the exception of a few places here and there and several places in Shanghai, the cost to get into each of these temples, gardens, parks and buildings is generally not worth it. Yes, some particular sight might be interesting, but usually certainly not worth what you had to pay to get in to see it.

Toward the end of my time in China, I stopped going into places, especially temples, when I saw the ticket price. I would just look at it from the outside. After all, unless there is something particularly special about a temple, one is pretty much like another.

Off on a tangent ...

One other thing about temples in China that turned me off is how Buddhism (and Taoism) has been turned into just another way to make money. And I don't just mean from ticket sales. Everything from incense, to medals, to statuary, to jewelry, to "special" donations all bring in a heck of a lot of money into a place that is supposed to venerate the idea of doing without, of giving up all earthly desires (money I think being a big one) and leading a monastic life.

Yes, I understand the need for money for the upkeep and care of the temple and those who care for it, but from what I have seen, it certainly looks to me that there is a heck of a lot more money going in than coming out. I also understand that some temples do actually do do community and charity work, but still, when a new golden idol is the main feature of the temple, it seems to me that priorities may be a bit skewed.

Another thing is how Buddhism, which is not really a religion to begin with (rather more a way of life) has been changed into a religion of begging. Of all the statues in a temple, the ones that acquire the most donations, get the most money thrown to them, are the ones representing long life, and the ones representing fortune in life or business

In one Taoist temple, one statue representing the protection of citizens from corrupt city and government officials had only a few coins scattered here and there, while the one representing making a lot of money in business had a pile of money in front of it. Personally, my money would go to the protection from corruption spirit. If no one was corrupt, then people might not have to go begging for good luck in their business.

These photos are mostly from Suzhou. There are a couple at the beginning and end from Shanghai.

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At 7:42 AM, Blogger brandvegn said...

Hey Robert! It's been a long time since I visited. The Shoalin/Disneyland comparison...Mastercard commercial I have to spell this joke out....OK, Priceless. Hey! Our cache got found and the TravelBug is on the move. I will leave the sites on for you to peruse (if you are able to get around the Great Firewall of China) at the bottom of this comment. The bike is probably the best investment of 0 Won I have ever spent. I use it daily. From the "3-Hour-Bike-Ride-That-Mysteriously
-Also-Pays-Bills-While-Unemployed" to the piling of miscellaneous boxes that are heading home, it has become my personal car. I will be taking it in for a check-up today or tomorrow. I will force feed the man Won if I have to. He has a tendency of pretending money is nothing more than paper that I wave at him. Which, in China, seems to be the exact opposite. I have to say, your trip has whetted my appetite for China. I was just explaining to one of my stude... Three-Hour-Bike-Ride-Companion that the strange, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable are the best parts of a trip. She disagreed. She thought the comfortable, expensive, and familiar was an essential part of the trip, along with the standard 9 hour bus ride in air-con, of course. To each her/his own. So what now? Homeward? Tried websites. Didn't work, but the Travel Bug number is 596889 and the cache name is Plastic Drama (Geocache site). Take Care.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Alimamo said...

Hey Brandvegn, I am glad you are getting good use out of the bike. And glad it is getting used in general.
I keep on truckin' here. In Siem Reap at the moment and soon to Singapore for a ticket to India. Don't know how long that will be, but hopefully long enough so the Med will be nice to travel around.
That's cool that the cache got found so quickly. I have been trying to Geocache along my travels, but I have yet to find one. I am sure I have been in the right places, but several times the caches were missing, and others I just didn't have the notes to help me find it. Try, try again.
Hope things continue to go well for you.


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