Jianchuan (a treat, with Lions) – China

What a treat Jianchuan was. What the Lonely Planet said was indeed true: that away from one street west of the electrical goods, MP3 players and American-style sportswear on the main street is a totally different world.

This is as close to traditional rural China I think I have gotten at this stage, and it seems the contradictions of China are replicable at every level. Here, just one street from thumping techno and glamour girls selling mobile phones are are old ladies buying grains from each other, sifting through and closely examining the characteristics as though they know what they are looking for. Next to them are bringing their canola (rapeseed) and other grains in to be pressed into oil, and next to them  are the  the tailors (Mao suits and forearm protectors for working women), metalworkers (woks, cookers), and basketweavers (for carrying vegetables and all kinds of other things) .

With 6 hours to kill I chose a sunny spot to do a little writing, chew on some mung-bean biscuits and watch very old women carry massive sacks of grain with their foreheads. This is the way everyone carries everything here: children, vegetables, grain, chickens, chillis etc.



Then walked up to Jingfeng Gongyuan park. This was also actually cool, there was no admission cost, and it is a very run-down version of many of the other temples and parks I had seen. The stupa needed repair, the pools of water were green and the grass uncut underneath and around drunks sleeping off their hangover. Elsewhere a small group of children were practicing music and elderly people reading the paper.

I walked out and considered heading up to 1000 lion mountain in the 4 hours or so I had left. Along the road came a auto-rickshaw heading the right way. I bargained him down to basically all the money I had left to get me up and back. Upon arriving at the parking area, it was deserted, but the map and photos adjacent to the carpark showed it to be quite a cool place – filled with statues of lions, buddhas, arches, temples and a large stupa on top of the mountain. And, a lot of stairs. I actually doubt that many tourists, young or old, would actually make it up the first few hundred.

But if they do the would discover, as I did, that the park police have cleverly placed the ticket office at the top of the hardest  part of the climb. I could not go in, I had no money. I probably could have pushed the guy to let me in or just walked into the forest and around the booth, but instead turned to enjoy the view and thought I could leave it for my next visit to China….when I would bring back my mountain bike, as the mountain was steep and covered in narrow trails.



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