The most famous Buddhist temple in Kunming, Yunnan Province, is Yuantong Temple, which was first built in the late 8th and early 9th century during the Tang Dynasty. After two major restorations and expansions, in 1465-1487 and in 1686, the temple took on its present design, with covered corridors, bridges and grand halls. Bridges feature prominently throughout the complex.
Wandering around the grounds, soft Buddhist music plays in the background. Om Mani Padme Hum, the repetitive mantra of Buddhist meditation, inundates my consciousness. As I drift over the many bridges, turtles rise to greet me. Peace caresses me, I am at home in these foreign grounds.
The Golden Gate opens into two mountain ranges.
A silver stream is hanging down to three stone bridges
Within sight of the mighty Tripod Falls.
Ledges of cliff and winding trails lead to blue sky
And a flush of cloud in the morning sun.
extract from A Song of Lu Mountain to Censor Lu Xuzhou. Li Bai, ( 701-762) from The Penguin Book of Chinese Verse, Edited by A.R. Davis, Penguin Books, 1962.
In a country like China, where everyday life is complex, busy, and often crowded, order creates harmony. It enables Chinese life to work smoothly. Orderliness can be seen in the cleanliness of the streets, the hygiene applied to food preparation and the behaviour of the Chinese people. The ancient principles of Confucianism, a system of norms and propriety that determine how a person should act in everyday life, underlies many aspects of Chinese society, with later overlays of buddhism, daoism, communism and capitalism. Below: some sketches of everyday life in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.
Notice the rooftops of these apartment buildings in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. They are covered in solar hot water units.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the ways in which the Chinese are embracing change: in fact, Kunming’s initiatives in the solar industry field made a huge impact on me. It removed all those stereotypical views one might hold about China, overcrowding and pollution. They are working on change at a rapid rate.
Australia is a land of plentiful sunshine whose political leaders are backward in accepting change. This happens at the Federal, State and local government level. All have their heads in the sand, even those who purport to be Green. Our local councils could be leaders in change, by insisting that all new inner city developments and apartment blocks include solar features.
In the photo below, the dedicated motorbike and bike lane is sectioned off from the other traffic. I wandered down these wide boulevards and was not aware of the any motorbike noise or pollution: I then observed that they were all electric.
Worth quoting from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunming#Solar_energy
In July 2008, Kunming began to implement a program to transform the city’s solar energy industry into a US$8.8 billion industrial base in China by 2013. Kunming receives an annual average sunshine of more than 2,400 hours. Each 1 kW PV system has the potential to generate 1500 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year from solar energy.
The government plans to put in place policies (low-interest loans, tax exemption and other concessions or subsidies) and a fund to encourage private sector participation in the city’s solar energy-based infrastructure development. The fund, which will be included in the municipal government’s annual budget, will particularly finance LED for public lighting, solar projects, and the propagation of energy saving projects.
As of 2007, the Kunming Economic Committee listed about 130 solar energy enterprises in the city. Of these, 118 enterprises produce solar lamps and solar water heaters, with a combined total production value of about US$43.8 million, and 10 enterprises are engaged in solar photovoltaic cells manufacturing, with a total production value of about US$51.2 million.
As I cast a lazy summer’s eye over the year that was 2014, one thing stands out clearly. We travelled a lot. Overseas trips were interspersed with hard work at home, followed by more travel to recover. Mr T and I made an early New Year’s Resolution to travel less in 2015, but I have noticed some overseas bookings creeping into the 2015 calendar: only because the fares are so ridiculously cheap and because we are irresponsible old gypsies at heart.
Our year away begun in January with two weeks spent in West Java and Sumatra. The highlights of this trip included time spent with my old friend Banardi and his partner, Adam in their house in the mountains near Puncak, West Java. Daily cooking lessons were the highlight of this trip as well as spending time with B’s family. Lake Toba, Sumatra was an exotic side trip and an intriguing foray into Batak culture.
Thanks Banardi and Adam, but also our big thanks goes to B’s family, especially Baria and family, Tony and Li Li and all B’s extended family, who made our stay so special.
After returning to Melbourne, we soon set up camp in our family compound by the sea on the Mornington Peninsula. This annual camp is as old as Methuselah and involves four generations of family members. As we travel between homes, our regular home and our ‘canvas’ trailer by the sea, various family members and guardian angels take care of things left behind at either end. Thankyou for watering our garden and looking after our chooks, and thanks to the ‘guardians’ down by the sea.
In May we set off for our annual trip to New Zealand. The North Island is still wonderfully clement in May, and as the prices for hiring a motor home plummet to $30 a day, it’s a mere hop, step and jump to fly to Auckland and then on to the glorious bays of the North. The natural scenery in New Zealand is breathtaking. And the local seafood is pretty tasty too. We have decided that NZ is not to be classed as an overseas trip since we share the same sea and a few relatives as well. Thanks Rachael, Andrew and Renato for monitoring things at home.
On returning from New Zealand, things turned rather cold in Melbourne and it was just as well we had our holiday booked for Thailand, China and Indonesia. After a few days experiencing Bangkok and its Coup, we headed off to China for a few weeks in Yunnan province and then a further two weeks with our wonderful friends, Tia and Carol in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. The food, the glorious days in ancient walled cities: China stole my heart. Thanks Tia and 松树 for the wonderful long drive through the countryside of Sichuan, and Carol and husband for the great trips around Chengdu. Also thanks to Richard and Jo Jo for the great day out at the Panda zoo in Chengdu.
On the way back from China home, we called into Indonesia again for a month, this time in Pemuteran in the North coast of Bali, an ideal spot to snorkel, dive and relax. This area is not a major tourist destination- unlike some of the other hotspots in Bali. It is restful, shopping free and remote. We also flew over to the island of Flores, followed by a lazy week back in Sanur. Thanks Helen for being such a relaxing and easy-going travel companion and to Rosalie and Ian for your great company and friendship too.
We did stay put for six weeks of Melbourne winter and then headed off to the outback, via South Australia, a rather slow meander through lovely countryside. It’s good to be a toursit in your own country.
A quick five day trip to the Murray River with family in November, saw the cousins get along in the great outdoors.
And in December, our annual trip to my favourite beach, Lake Tyers, in Gippsland provided a fitting finale to the year, along with a side trip to Paynesville and Raymond Island to visit the land of our great grandparents. Thanks Kerrie and Bruce for sharing this trip with us.
And thank you my dear readers if you got through this rather long and indulgent New Year’s Eve Post. I hope you had a great year too. Best wishes for the next one. Capo d’anno. F xx