One advantage of travelling solo is having the freedom to make choices to delay, speed up or take a different fork in the road. Xi’an managed to provide all of these options. Despite having already seen so much I knew I had barely scratched the surface. I decided to stay another two nights, thinking this would still give me time to revisit some places in Beijing and spend time with friends without overstaying my visit. Considering, yet again, the mishmash of directions I was glad I made that decision!
Before anything else I had to figure out why I could not make phone calls anymore. Ah, I owed an astronomical amount of money – alright, not really unless from a Chinese sense of cost. I owed 50CNY. I added another 50CNY and would be set for the rest of my trip. Sort of. I still did not have great access to a map and my data was sporadic. However, armed with at least a way to call people I was happy. On my agenda – the Little Wild Goose Pagoda, hop on the subway, or walk about 4.5km. After receiving directions, inccluding where to get off, which exit to take and which way to turn once I have exited, I was ready. Even now I am laughing at my gullibility. When will I learn that despite truly wanting to help too many people get the important things wrong. Unfortunately those errors often include left vs. right.
So, after being assured, by two hostel staff, then someone at Mcdonald’s when I arrived in the general area, to go right I did. After 30 minutes I was convinced I had been led astray. One more conference, some map searches, and even one phone call by a couple trying to help I was headed back to the subway – to turn left! (if the pagoda was on a map I did not see it) Presto, there it was. Closed. Every Tuesday. For extensive renovation. I was so close – I could see the greenery through the slightly ajar door, I was not allowed to sneak in. Ming tian. Oh well, I did have some delicious jiao.zi from a place next door. I headed back to the subway, my hostel, and a reassessment. Onward to Guanren Lama Temple! The temple I had seen from above. I already knew it was in walking distance, all I had to do was find the nearest corner to take me to the other side of the Wall.
Originally built in 1705, this is the only Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the province of Shaanxi. The temple, rebuilt in 1952, with extensive repairs done in 2006, the temple houses over 6700 volumes of sutras in the aptly named Sutras Keeping Hall. These volumes are carefully wrapped in yellow silk, many are displayed while others are in the upper reaches ofvthe library. This is a working temple, monks and adherents actually outnumbered tourists. I was quite taken with the outfits worn by many of the culturally Tibetan visitors. The whole space is relatively small, three acres, yet does not seem crowded. Five Gates and Halls plus lesser halls and off limit wing-rooms – the latter seem to be relatively new living quarters for the monks. A lovely way to while away my afternoon after missing out on the Little Goose. That was on my agenda for the next day.