Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Ling Shan Buddha: the Tourist Trap from Hell

It was my misfortune to go to the Ling Shan Big Buddha during the October holiday.  It wasn't my idea.  It was either my wife's or my in-laws.  A week before, I learned from my wife that we were to go and so I was able to become resigned to my fate, as much as I could.

The Ling Shan Buddha was built in the 1990s.  It is about as authentically placed as a giant Hindu statue park in the Inter Lake region of Manitoba, Canada.  The Buddha was clearly built to bring in Tourists.  And judging by the signs of the crowds I saw on my latest visit to it, it is a still successful racket.

I can thank God (or the Buddha) that my in-laws are early risers.  We were able to avoid traffic jams going to the park.  When we left the park later the roads we had gone down had become so packed that I could no longer recognize them.

There wasn't much to do at the park but look at Buddhist iconography and statues, observe typical Chinese tourists, jostle among crowds and look at the all hawkers selling food and trinkets.

I saw some Monks at the pseudo-shrines and the manner of at least one of them lead me to question their authenticity or sanctity.  One young monk definitely looked like he had shaved his head for an October holiday gig.  He sat with the posture of a bored store clerk as he clutched his smartphone.  

The tourists were for the most part dressed casually in jeans, shorts and t-shirts. (For whatever reason, a young man wearing a t-shirt saying "I'm just t-shirt" stuck in my mind).  Their children ate confections like they were at an amusement park.  When the tourists weren't walking, they were sitting about, looking at their smart phones.  A few did do some prostrations at various shrines but lord knows for what they were praying.  Money, a bigger house and a nicer car, perhaps?

The most annoying aspect of the day was entering the area below the pavilion where one could touch the feet of the Big Buddha.  One came upon a room that was crowded as possibly could be.  Looking at it, my first instinct was to turn around and seek another way to get to the Buddha's feet.  I even told my wife Jenny that I didn't recall (this was my fourth or fifth visit to the Buddha park) having to go this way to get to it.  But she insisted that we had to go through this room to get to an elevator that would take us to the pavilion.  Because the room we had to get through was so crowded and I was so clueless, the way the people were standing in the room seemed so inexplicable to me:  they were facing every possible direction.  I even thought that some of the people in the room were trying to get out but were prevented by the rush of people trying to enter.  But then the crowd was able to advance forward and I saw that the room contained these queuing barriers that required people to wind through a back-and-forth maze to get through the room.  Twenty minutes after we entered this room, we were at the base of the Buddha looking at his feet.  Having, as I said, been there before, we spent three minutes looking around before deciding to go back down.  Big whoop-de-do!

To exit the park, one has to go through a kilometer path lined with hawkers trying to sell souvenirs.  If this wasn't blatantly tourist-trappy, then I wouldn't know what would be.

A spiritual experience, not.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sitting on the Wuxi Metro, Watching a Video of Eleven

Sitting on the Wuxi Metro, I was, on my way home from my place of employ.

It is my current habit, as I sit on the train going home, to listen to a podcast on my now eight year old Ipod and look at the people around me.  Sometimes, something on the Train's video screens catch my eye.

One such thing was a video of Chairman Xi (Eleven) visiting/inspecting a factory full of groups of enthusiastic workers, clapping in unison (like delegates at a party conference) eager to get a glimspe of him or to shake his hand.  At the end of the adulation, Xi was shown to be speaking to the assembled groups, telling them some wisdom that only he, as Chairman presumably, possessed.  Looking around the train, I had the feeling I was the only one watching the video.  The other passengers were looking at their smartphones.

It was such crude, typical, unimaginative Communist propoganda, that one could understand why no one was watching it. But yet, that one could be lead to believe Eleven did fashion himself as being as "great" a Chairman as Mao.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Ling Shan Big Buddha

A tourist trap if there ever was one.

It wasn't my idea to go here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Nanjing Massacre Museumn

One should never discount the anguish of the Chinese for what happened at Nanjing in 1937.  But I can't feel cynical whenever I go to the Nanjing Massacre Museum.  For there have been other massacres perpetuated on the Chinese people since 1937 that don't, as yet (hopefully), have monuments or museums for tourists to visit.  Of course, these massacres were perpetuated by the powers that currently be, so one cannot expect any memorials to the victims until a new dynasty comes to reign in China.

I have been to the Massacre Museum three times; most recently last month (August 2018).  On the second and third visit, I had an impression of the museum always changing in tone.  During my latest visit, I was thinking that the place was getting more maudlin.  Of course, it could be my memory playing tricks on me or the fact that I went to the Museum in the high tourist time of August and never got a good look at any exhibits because the place so impossibly crowded that I immediately wanted to leave.

Walking into the museum last month, I had to pass these maudlin sculptures/statues that may have been added since my last visit.  Maybe what the words said to have been uttered by the victims being depicted in the sculptures sounded right in Chinese but the Chinglish translations of the words were pathetic and undignified.  

On my previous visit to the museum, I recalled that the path through the museum ended with a reconcilation display showing Japanese and Chicom leaders (like Chairman Mao and Chairman Deng) meeting, shaking hands and embracing as friends.  I didn't see that this time.  Instead, I saw a big, super-sharp photo of Chairman Xi making an important speech (that I remembered seeing the reports of) at the museum to mark the massacre's 70th anniversary.

The last thing I remember seeing before leaving the museum was a big fifty foot tall monument to "peace."  Being in the PRC so long, I could only wonder what the idea of peace, of the powers who decided to erect the peace monument, was.  I would have much preferred to see a momument to consideration for others.  Peace in the PRC, seems to me, to mean not putting up a fuss about others' bad behavior.