I blame my interest in Buddhism on Tina Turner. She was once featured on 60 Minutes, draping her lithe, gazelle frame on an Italian leather chair in her house in Nice, France (yeah, it was a modest house, overlooking the ocean) as Morley Safer became more and more bewitched with her radiance. I was jealous of her immaculate skin and that Bono was her neighbor, but what most peaked my interest was how she credited one central thing that lifted her above poverty, debt, and Ike Turner’s rough hewn hand slapping her cheek in hate: Buddhism. The camera panned to her worship altar, where she mediated every morning. She even demonstrated a Buddhist chant for Morley. Her voice deepened, her chest swelling with rhythmic joy as ancient song filled the air. A smile splayed across her lips. She even made chanting sound rock n’roll. It was way cool. Maybe I wanted to be her, or was in search of my own inner peace. I’ve attended mediation classes, talks, stared at monks, hoping their goodness would rub off on me, even eaten at Buddhist vegetarian restaurants to, you know, eat food that contained wisdom, not just MSG. Buddhism will always draw me in, so when I heard about the Wenshu Temple and Monastery in Chengdu, taking a look was a must.
Where is Chengdu you may ask? And why should you go? Located in Sichuan Province, Chengdu has been called the “Land of Milk and Honey”, because it’s so rich in resources. Truly, there are so many things to do in Chengdu. Wenshu Temple. Taking the bus to Leshan town and checking out the 71 meter Buddha. Climbing Mount Emi where the legend of Kung Fu was born within the respected monks of Emi. Myself? Pandas! It’s no mystery that I love animals. You’ll always find me petting anything furry, despite warnings of rabies and fleas. I seriously can’t help myself. Which is why a visit to the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Research was high on my list. The Research Base is a non-profit and was founded in 1987 to focus on protecting and breeding the endangered giant panda. Their emphasis is on wildlife research, captive breeding and educating people on conservation. What is most unique about the Base is the educational tourism aspect. As you move through each section of the grounds, you’re encouraged to understand a panda’s life span and behaviors. There’s even a panda movie theater that shows educational films. With about 200 hectares of land to play with, the Research Base carefully reconstructed the natural habitat of pandas and created a haven for other animals like red pandas, swans, peacocks, birds and golden monkeys. Humans are also privy to a calming atmosphere with gardens to explore and the addition of a manmade lake and teahouse. It was relaxing to hang there after gushing over the pandas. Unabashed admiration is hard work. The Base is located about 30 minutes from Chengdu. If you plan on going on your own the entry […]