Of course, we needed some serious food before such an undertaking, and Summer's seemed like just the place. 2 giant hamburgers later (along with some fear of getting sick - our stomachs already can't handle these American foods like they used to) we were ready for the temple grounds!
To add to my list of "wonderful things about China" is the fact that everywhere we go there is a student discount for admissions. Our admission was half price just because we flashed those green UVU cards! We entered the grounds and were instantly transported to a different time and place. We left the busy downtown Changzhou, and were on the peaceful grounds of a working temple. We could see monks, we could hear traditional Chinese music (which always seems to be playing everywhere), and we could smell incense burning.
There was so much to see everywhere we turned, but we headed straight for the pagoda! Being a little short on time before closing, we thought we'd make sure to get the main thing done.
We entered the temple and were greeted by some giant gold buddhas. We were happy to find an elevator and went straight for the top to check out the view! With 13 different levels, I'm grateful for that lift. The view from the top was amazing! We could see pretty far. It was very hazy because of the pollution, but beautiful if we thought of it as fog.
Almost every floor was like it's own museum, so we took the stairs down to check out each floor. There were some crazy things! Like this crystal buddha (white thing near the top) that was found somewhere kind of random.
I loved to see all of the carvings, there were quite a few floors of them. There were some INSANE carvings that just took our breath away. I didn't remember to take pictures, I was so astonished by the art. Some of the carvings were very low reliefs and were beautiful, but the high reliefs were crazy. I can't even explain. You'll just have to go there! We also enjoyed the carvings of chubby men carved right into tree stumps.
The only picture you get is this one of me by a cool wood statue.
After the pagoda we checked out some of the other buildings on the grounds, and a few little shops which each sold the same thing as their neighbor.
We ended up just sitting down and enjoying the peace.
Right in front of where we were sitting was a fountain-like structure. Not really a fountain, though, because there wasn't any water. Anyway, some little tiny kid came up to it and tried to throw a coin into the top section! He just tried and tried and couldn't get it. Eventually his little sister, his grandma, and his mom joined him. We watched them for a while because they were just a cute little family, all throwing coins! After they left we of course had to throw in some of our own coins.
After that we grabbed some noodles and called it a day. I don't think we will ever really understand the layout of this city, we always seem to find ourselves in unexplored territory here! As we walked through a worn down alleyway, which doubled as apartment housing for the poor, we thought about how grateful we are to currently live in such a safe place. An identical alleyway in any other country would be terrifying, but for the most part, we are safe here in China. Don't worry moms, we are still careful as we always should be - but we are just grateful that we don't have to fear for our lives. We love this place!