Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Shanghai: Day 5

Today we went to the Jade Buddha Temple. This place houses scurrying monks, beautiful plants, and its namesake, a 6-foot tall jade Buddha. It took a while to walk there from our hotel, but I think it was well worth it. The outside was painted yellow, and we entered through large wooden doors. Once inside, the walls of the interior were painted bright red and yellow. The whole place was very quiet and smelled strongly of the incense that was burning in the center garden.

jade buddha temple

While I was exploring, two lines of monks came walking by quickly, with some dressed in bright yellow and some dressed in bright red. I followed them and saw that they were going into an eating area which happened to be a vegetarian restaurant. I didn't eat there, but it made me happy to see yet another Buddhist-run vegetarian restaurant in Shanghai. (The people at Godly certainly made my eating experience excellent.)

doorway to garden

I particularly loved the doorways inside the complex. There were so many circles to walk through, and what they framed always looked interesting enough to walk through and check out.

Eventually we made it to the Jade Buddha. It was housed on the second floor of a building it had to itself. The room it was in had incense burning in it and soft music playing. I stood there, marvelling at the Buddha, for about fifteen minutes. (Photos were understandably not allowed in this area, so I am forced to attempt an adequate written description.)

The Buddha sat in lotus position, looking humbly downward. The craftsmanship of the Buddha was impeccable. The main reason that I stood for so long staring at it was the small details in the hands and face. The Buddha's tears were so real looking that it seemed the jade it was made from was really crying. The more I looked at it, the more I felt my own tears welling up behind my eyes. I was told later that the tears are the Buddha's pity for mankind. While I admittedly know very little about Buddhism, I feel like this Jade Buddha must have spoken loudly and subtly at once for some of its main principles.

tallest building in shanghai

After visiting the temple, Donny, Gene, and I met Gene's father at the tallest building in Shanghai. We stayed there for a little while taking pictures, and then headed to dinner. We ordered far too much food, and found new favorites in the process. Donny was introduced to tipang, which is some cut of pork that is higher on the leg than usual and is cooked until the point that it can fall off the bone. I, however, being vegetarian, gorged myself on kaofu, xiancai, and miantiao.


Kaofu is made from wheat gluten and has a thick, spongy texture. It soaks up the sauce it is cooked in very well, which, in this case, happened to be both salty and sweet. This particular dish also had two kinds of mushrooms (woodear, and another, very thin kind) and peanuts.


Xiancai is pickled assorted vegetables. I love this, and according to our friend Mr. Liu, this makes me "very Chinese" because most foreigners don't like it. It's vinegary and sweet, and it stings the tongue a little while taking a long time to chew. I ate almost this whole plate by myself.


Miantiao simply means "noodles." The miantiao at this restaurant was fried with onion and served with a seaweed garnish. I think that just by looking at it, you can tell that it must have tasted amazing. The noodles were fresh and handpulled, which resulted in a great texture.


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