The Four Gates Pagoda

14:28 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

One of the drawbacks of being an expat in China is that you are bit of a novelty to the locals. They stop, they stare (a lot) and sometimes they shout 'hello' at you. Occasionally you'll get a really brave local, who'll strike up a conversation with you in broken English. These brave souls can usually be found lurking on packed buses, where they know you have no escape. 

I was happily reading on the bus when a lady started a conversation with me. I plodded through the questions about what I was doing in China and tried to get back to my book, but she was persistent. I surrendered, returned my book to my bag and let her quiz me. As we chatted though, it turned out she actually had loads of advice about where to visit in the local area. A few days later, with the lady's recommendation, a group of us set off to visit the Four Gates Pagoda.

We had to take two buses to get to the destination. The whole journey took two hours on city buses, which don't have many seats. I quickly regretted joking about having to stand the whole way. The bus was packed with old people, shopping and a bad smell. Eventually, with aching legs, we arrived at the gates to the Mountain which contained the pagoda. 

The whole place was pretty deserted (I could hear Ghost Town playing in the distance) however my friend and China-veteran described the toilets as the worst he'd ever seen, so at least the place had that going for it. We entered the main courtyard which contained lots of different Buddhist prayer rooms. All the statues seems pretty new (ie not original) but the place was quiet and peaceful. You could even hear birdsong.

Eventually we walked across the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda - a brick and stone building from the Tang Dynasty (approx 600-900AD). The pagoda had lots of intricate carvings, but we couldn't hang around too long because a vendor had picked up our scent and tried flogging us some postcards. I didn't buy anything but I did take the opportunity to practice a bit of Chinese with the vendor.

Next up was the Thousand Buddha Cliff. I didn't count that many, but there were plenty of Buddha's carved into the stone.

We knew we couldn't have the place to ourselves forever and soon enough a pack of marauding Chinese pensioners joined us. We could hear their chatter from miles off. We tried to outrun them by going up hill, which worked, and soon enough we were by ourselves again.

After a long walk and a lunch of several packets of crisps, we arrived at the Four Gates Pagoda. It is the oldest single storey stone pagoda in the whole of China. Unfortunately it was being restored, so we we could only enjoy a view of the electrified scaffolding (seriously).

There was also an old tree which is apparently 1,000 years old, but I'm starting to take all these Chinese numbers with a pinch of salt. There were some nice prayer-thingys decorating the tree though.

And finally we came to a waterfall. The waterfall was really nice and we spent time there hanging out and posing for pictures.

After the waterfall it was time to head back home. The streets in the area were deserted save for the occasional three wheeled truck going past. And yes, this is an advert for a chicken restaurant...

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