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Return to Zhihua Temple – some things are not what they seem!!

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I arrived in Beijing last week and unfortunately internet access has been dreadful especially with my gmail and WordPress (I really should have installed VPN prior to travelling) but anyway today  I am here in northern China at the Kempinski Hotel in Ningxia Autonomous Region and I have access so thought I would post on my travels.  By the way the Kempinski is fabulous…am sitting here in the bar having a glass of sav blanc with my friend and listening to a wonderful band playing old songs which of course suited me e.g. Carpenters/Kenny Rogers etc.

But…having no access to the internet in Beijing was extremely frustrating especially no access to gmail…but I have to move on from these thoughts about the Chinese and the internet!!

One of the first places I wanted to return to in Beijing was the Zhihua Temple as after I had been there in 2012 I read that every day there is a group of musicians that perform daily (10am and 3pm) led by an eighty-year old Buddhist monk who is the only surviving member of the 26th generation of musicians…so I was really looking forward to returning.

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At the time of my original visit the temple was under renovation so I could not enter but this time the temple has been fully refurbished and was open to the public. So for 20 RMB (about $5 AUD), I entered. The refurbishments have been done really well with each building restored and painted to look like what it did around 1440.

At 10am we had walked to a separate temple at the back of the grounds and sat waiting for the monks to commence playing. They walked in all wearing their yellow robes and sat down at the table located at the front of the temple. They played for about fifteen minutes with some instruments I have never seen before but there was definitely a flute, drums and oboe type instrument. It was lovely and there was only about five of us listening in the audience.

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I was feeling very happy to have seen original monks playing , but I got a little surprise when the four musicians finished playing, they all stood up and removed their yellow robes to display ‘normal’ clothes underneath then started chatting away and packing up the chairs!!!!

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I felt a bit disappointed with them not being monks as I had read so much about the history of these musicians….but anyway….they played beautifully and the visit to the restored temple was definitely worth my time.