Like most first days in a new city, it’s a good idea to wander around aimlessly for a wee while. We did exactly that in Chengdu and stumbled across the Wenshu Monastery which was quite a cool place.
Like most streets in China, there’s a lot of traffic – cars, buses, scooters, bicycles combined with noisy horns. The monastery street is no different but when you first enter, the first thing you are aware of is a strong smell of incense.
There are free incense sticks at the front which some local people were using. They were lighting it, blowing out the sticks and putting them in a large cauldron and saying a prayer so we joined in – minus the prayer part.
When you look at the place before you go in, it seems quite small but looks can be, and on this occassion, was deceptive. The grounds are massive.
There’s various buildings with a lot of different statues and various sections with candles burning plus more insence burning throughout the place.
There was also a garden area with a pond full of terrapins which were happy to laze about doing nothing really.
At the back of the grounds was probably the best part, there was a three storey building which had an older guy playing a musical instrument, which turned out to be a Pipa (prounounced Pee-paa).
After a bit of listening, he waved us over to sit down and started playing “Auld lang syne” which was quite cool to hear. I don’t know how people from this part of the world know about that particular song. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to ask him if he done requests so Billy Connolly’s version of “Ten guitars” was out of the question.
Another guy there briefly translated for us to tell us that the man was telling stories which had music to go with them. Of course, we had no ideas what the stories were but hearing the instrument being played was still quite an enjoyable experience.
After we left the story telling and music, there were a some stairs which took you up to a group of young guys dressed like Monks – perhaps becuase they were monks ! ! ! Or at least in the process of becoming monks.
They were doing some sort of excercise routine, to us, it was unclear if it was a form of meditation of a martial art of some sort but like the musical guy down the stairs, it was quite a cool thing to watch.
Then came the difficult part and that was finding our way back out – we knew we were somewhere near the back of the monastery but it wasn’t a straight forward line to the front.
After a while, we found an exit which had been opened to let a car in and went out there – it was nowhere near where we first entered but purely by chance, it took us to the Aidao nunnery which was on our map so we were no longer lost.