This weekend marks my second weekend in a row of professional development, so I am a bit burned out. However, this weekend’s workshop is in Guangzhou (Gwong-Joe) which is about 2 hours north (west or east) of Shenzhen.
As we were heading to the conference in the school van, I realized how much I miss driving and the freedom it brings. It made me homesick for road trips. Sometimes, people have a tendency to not always appreciate a moment when it is happening. It takes a hard times or some just good old reflection to understand what you had. Well, I never felt that way about road trips. I always knew how much I loved them, especially with a coffee in my drink holder, my favorite music blasting, and the open road in front of me. It was nice today to have a bit of that, even if it was in a crowded van with seven other relative strangers at six in the morning. Sometimes, you just have to take what you can get.
After the first day, we decided to head to downtown Guangzhou, we took the hotel van for part of the way, and then fumbled the rest of our way to our destination through the congested subway system. I felt like a sardine within the deluge. We had heard about this walking street called Beijing Lu which essentially turned out to be a bunch of shops with various restaurants in between. However, we did find a bit of history. Underneath the street, under some glass, was the original entrance floor to the Ming Gate, for the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644AD). Very cool.
When we first arrived at Beijing Lu, I spied this old building behind a construction site. It’s sad to say but it does seem that the ‘Old China’ is being knocked down to make way for more modern buildings, particularly for the Asian Games that are taking place soon. So I just figured that it was worth a look, but probably won’t be much, so we waited until we were about to head back to the subway. Boy, was I glad we checked it out.
We walked down this uneven path as the sun was going down, and headed into an actual construction site. I was lucky because the people that I was with just walked in, right past the guard. In my mind, a guard means stop and had I been alone, I probably would have turned around. So, I hesitantly followed and amidst the yellow hats and blue coveralls, was this grand but lovely Buddhist temple. Inside, were three large, gold Buddhas, right there amongst the noise, rubble, concrete, yelling men, and dust, smiling at me.
Within this temple compound, there was incense burning and it reminded of being in church with my family when I was a child and my heart felt peaceful. As I walked around, minding the holes and cracks, there was a shrine of flowers. Unfortunately, we could not enter the building that housed these heavenly statues which I understood, but was still sad about. It would have been good to just go in there and calmly sit surrounded by the angelic aroma and shiny Buddhas gazing down upon me. I wish we had gone there when there was more daylight so we could have stayed longer, but I am so glad we were able to see it at all. Even though it was off-limits, behind large gates, there was a feeling of tranquility. I googled it when I got back to the hotel, but I couldn’t find this particular shrine anywhere. It was as if I had discovered a celestial secret.
Even though I could not stay for long, I thought that maybe it is just these beautiful small moments that fill our souls to remind us of how wonderful life is. Maybe this weekend isn’t as bad as I thought.
Below are some photos of Guangzhou, the crowded subway, the temple, and some other shots I thought were interesting – enjoy!