Dungguan Mosque

06:11 Paul Robinson 1 Comments

I spent my last full day in Xining doing a little urban exploration. I had a pizza and went back to the hostel for for a nap. Napping has become a luxurious habit in China. I woke up feeling amazing. After doing nothing Chinese-y, Mountain-y or Temple-y and guiltily eating western food, I realised variety is the spice of life. I'm in China but I don't have to do authentic 'China' every day. My travelling apathy disappeared along with the guilt of being a bit bored of temples. I decided to get back out into the city.

Unfortunately there wasn't much else to see, so I ended up at another temple - the Dungguan Mosque. At least it was a different religion. The mosque is one of the most important in China and is suitably large. As I approached, the smells of the street food changed along with the attire of the locals. The sky was overcast and threatened rain. 

I took my camera out for a few photos. Throughout my trip, I had tried and failed to get some decent portraits of the local folk. I focussed in on an old man in a skull cap. I was about to take the picture, when an out-of-focus student appeared in my viewfinder, grinning and waving at me. 

"Where are you from?" He said, forgoing those irrelevant hellos and introductions. 

I'm well versed in the Asiatic Inquisition and thought I'd be able to rifle through his questions and be back on my way. He insisted on walking with me though. He was friendly enough so I decided it's be okay to have some company in the Mosque. 
We explored the Mosque together, walking through the buildings and courtyards. Occasionally he would disappear and I'd find him trying to take a picture of me from some unusual angle. We finished the tour and I had exhausted my Chinese and I wanted to leave. Persistence came naturally to him though and he suggested we eat some local food. I didn't have a good enough reason to refuse, so off we went. 
We had some weird bread-cake which tasted like cardboard and then a brown version of bai lian pi, which was amazing. Eating with someone who can speak the lingo usually pays off. We then wandered about aimlessly and chatted some more. It started to rain. In China, pavements are a mixture of ankle twisting hazards and polished stone, so I regretted wearing plimsolls. The pavement quickly puddled. I wasn't used to my friend's Dalian accent and I was really having to pay attention to the conversation to understand him. To my embarassment, I found out you can't concentrate on speaking Chinese and concentrate on not slipping on your backside, at the same time. I hit the ground. I quickly climbed up to laugh it off but he was genuinely concerned, which only made it feel like I really had done something stupid. 

A lesson to any Chinese reading - when somebody falls, you should laugh at them! 

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1 comment:

  1. LOL "Asiatic Inquisition" is such a great term to describe the experience of being bombarded by the same 3-5 questions from Chinese people :D