Note: I also posted this review for "Guiyuan Temple" as it appears to be the same thing as this
I had a great experience at this temple but it was most likely because I went with two locals who explained everything to me. I haven't seen other people mention these things but because they are what made the visit fun and special I will share here (skip to #3 for best tip!):
1) I first want to mention that I learned that taking pictures of the buddha statues is frowned upon. It was explained to me that the buddha did not give me permission to take their pictures therefore I shouldn't do it. This oddly made sense to me. So I have no pictures of the actual buddhas to share but there were many in different halls ranging in size from small to very, very large.
2) You can buy turtles from people near the front to put in the "ponds". I was told the idea was that you are saving them from becoming someones dinner that night. You can see many turtles throughout the ponds (one is more of a deep pit and sort of depressing). They also told me those same turtles are just fished back out again at night to be resold. Kind of neat or terrible depending on how you look at it.
3) I took a picture of one of the metal statutes that are in the street. The goal is to throw coins and get a coin in any of the openings but especially a dragons mouth. This looks pretty difficult and none of us accomplished the dragon mouth but it was still fun.
4) This is definitely my best tip and one of my favorite experiences in china: The women I was with took me to the hall of the 500 buddha and at the beginning they said I was to start walking through until I found a buddha that seemed particularly interesting or caught my attention for some reason. Starting at that buddha I was to then keep moving buddha by buddha and count out a number that was meaningful to me (they said to use my age). So this (interesting buddha that I initially stopped at + my age) led me to buddha #229. I wrote down this number. Then we continued looking at the buddha.
Upon exiting the 500 buddha hall, we rounded the corner (to the left I think) and there is a small stand with someone behind it. I think they had a few necklaces there but nothing that indicated its true purpose (at least not to this laowai). We told the woman at the stand our buddhas number and paid maybe 10 yuan. In return she gave each of us a thin metal buddha card that corresponds with our buddha. The front has a picture of the buddha (#229 for me) and the back has a sort of fortune/personality thing in chinese. Really cool experience, souvenir and a way to remember 'my' buddha without taking a picture (see my pics for what this card looks like). I have that card on my desk now and it really makes me smile. Definitely not something that I would have ever been able to figure out on my own.
5) there is a nice gift shop to too far from the 500 buddha that has all manner of lovely things. I saw a bracelet that I liked (and that women on the street in Beijing stopped me to ask about) but when they got one out of the case for me it seemed too small. the woman working then showed me the best bracelet trick and one I still use- put a plastic bag over your hand. the 'too small' bracelet slides right on (and off).
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