Allen and Peter are PSU students studying Math in China
a few of us went
to see the Lama
Temple, which is an
old Buddhist temple located in downtown Beijing. Traveling with myself was Dr.
Batakidis, Richard, KC and Rajani. We departed Furama Express near 10:00
and headed for the subway. With a moderate smog index, the sun could be seen
peering through the clouds. It was a warm morning with a slight breeze out of
the southwest. Temperatures would reach the mid-90's later in the day so our
packs contained ample supplies of water. As we walked toward the subway, we
could hear the mid-morning honks of commuters passing by, many parents would be
taking their children to school, packing three people on a small moped scooter.
Traffic was perilous in Beijing and you could be hit by any number of vehicles
traveling in the opposite direction as traffic signs indicated. Dodging in an
out of the way of oncoming vehicles we made our way to the subway station on
Alas, we entered the subway station and paid our 2 yuan fee for a one way ticket. Scanning our bags at the security check, we made our way down into the depths of the subway. Line 4 would take us to line 1, where we would be able to reach the Lama Temple. The subway is efficient and quick, getting us to the center of Beijing in less than a half hour. As we exited the cool dank tunnel of the subway station, we were greeted by the scorching mid-day sun.
Confusion sets in. The rush of busy bodies around the station seems dizzying and there are no english signs directing us on our path. We turn in place once, twice, maybe three times before deciding on a direction. As we cross the street, we notice a temple like structure looming above the street. "Could this be the Lama Temple which we seek?" we pondered. However it was not, rather it turned out to be a fancy looking KFC. As we continued on down the street, we noticed that there was a large structure to our left, from where we just came. In fact, the Lama Temple had been over top of the subway station we just exited from!
We were surprised to see that the station had been built underneath such a relic, and in fact the temple stretched far into the distance. The only entrance was a few blocks down the street, past many vendors selling faux Buddhist artifacts such as gourds, incense and other shenanigans. Crossing the street once more, in order to enter the temple, we learn a very important technique in the art of Chinese street crossing. We observed the use of a single hand raised in the direction of oncoming traffic in order to get drivers to stop. It was as if the person had special traffic stopping powers, or else they would just be stopping moving vehicles with their bare hands.
As we entered the gate of the temple, we saw the ornate red and blue painted entrance way. A beautiful tree-lined path led the way to the first temple. Incense burning was commonplace, and the subtle winds blew the smoke throughout the compound. Everywhere we looked, another small temple was in place, red in color with large entryways. A small rectangular pad lay at the foot of all the temples, and was used for kneeling and praying. Within each temple was a relic statue of a Buddha representing the type of learning which was performed in each section. Most notably, was the large statue in the back of the compound which has been recognized as the largest statue carved out of a single tree and indeed was formidable. No photographs were allowed inside any of the temples, but the images of ornate tapestries, gold statues and beautifully painted ceilings will remain within my mind forever.
we left the Lama Temple, we split off from Dr. Batakidis and headed back to PKU
for our recitation. Here we met up with everyone and talked about our previous
class. We were tired from the adventure of the morning, but managed to get
through to dinner, which we usually eat at the dining hall in between
recitation and class. After dinner, of course we headed to class. Here we get
to meet up with the PKU students, two of which are now good friends of ours. As
we discuss the course materials, we begin to understand how different many of
our skill sets are, and how different PKU is from
PSU in terms of mathematics education.
Following lecture, the PSU students enjoy going out and observing the night life around Beijing. After a long day of walking through old Buddhist temples and sitting through 5 hours of mathematics lecture, it is nice to enjoy some quality night time relaxation and get to know each other better.