29 December 2010

Birthday in Changzhou: Tianning Temple

I was feeling kind of depressed thinking about turning 26. I'm not ready! The age 26 represents to me that I have grown up. Yeah, for most people it's 18-21. But for me I still felt like I was in the college age party mode. It helps not having kids. I'm sure as soon as I have kids I will feel very grown up. As I was feeling a little depressed about getting older, Ramsey said, "26 is a sexy age." I think he likes me getting older since he's already 6 years and 3 months older than me.

It seems like just yesterday that I married the love of my life at the age of 20 and here I am 26 and grown up.

I'm very comfortable with telling people my age. In China, people ask about each other's age all the time and every one is always comfortable about it. Even random taxi drivers will ask me. I don't hesitate at all. The Chinese word for twenty-five rolled off my tongue beautifully. Unfortunately twenty-six ends on the falling tone or I think of it as the harsh tone so now I feel like I'm shouting out my age.

This year, a month before I birthday, I asked Ramsey to plan me a wonderful birthday with an awesome hotel. I always do all the planning whenever we have little mini trips. Well the day before I asked him if he had anything planned and he looked at me with this guilty look and I knew he hadn't planned anything. Actually I expected this because he had been so busy with all his part time jobs and he doesn't speak any Chinese to manage booking a hotel or getting train tickets. Thankfully, I know how to rely on myself and I had planned a backup plan for my birthday in case Ramsey didn't plan anything and after I revealed my plan he quickly agreed to pay for everything. =)

I planned an action packed trip to Changzhou (an hour train ride from Shanghai). There we would visit the biggest pagoda in the world and visit Dinosaurland. I asked my friend to book me a hotel. Chinese people are much better at haggling for prices on the phone than I am. So our 826rmb ($121) hotel room ended up being 388rmb ($57 room). P.S. you always have to haggle for the cost of hotel rooms in China. A lot of foreigners don't know this and end up paying the full price. Even the clerks will tell foreigners they can't haggle the price but then they let Chinese people do it. Hence, enlisting a Chinese friend to haggle is the way to go.

Check out our very romantic hotel room! A round bed and a jet tub woot!

We got to the hotel and enjoyed the tub for a while. The original plan was to go to Dinosaurland on my birthday but then we left a little late and it closes at 5 so we ended up switching Tuesday's itinerary with Wednesday's. So Tuesday we ended up seeing Tianning pagoda, visiting Hongmei park and going shopping at Nan Da Jie.

I had no idea my hotel was a 5 minute walk from the pagoda, a 6 minute walk to the Hongmei park, and a 15 minute walk to the Nan Da Jie. I didn't have to rely on taxis that much. Although the taxis are cheaper here than Shanghai and probably more honest. I could actually understand them so clearly! No shanghai dialect to get in my way!

Tianning Temple and Pagoda (天宁寺)

According to Wikipedia: "With 13 stories and a height of 154 m (505 ft), this wooden pagoda is now the tallest pagoda in the world, taller than China's tallest existent pre-modern Buddhist pagoda, the Liaodi Pagoda built in 1055 at a height of 84 m (275 ft). Although the existing pagoda was built by April 2007, the temple grounds and the pagoda have a history of construction and destruction for the past 1,350 years, since the time of the Tang Dynasty (618–907)."

hehe It says Buddhist jungle instead of pagoda:
So, it's not really a complete authentic temple since the poor thing has been damaged so much. It has an elevator for one. As much as I would love to have claimed to have hiked the 13 stories, my knee wouldn't be able to handle it without puffing up to the size of a grapefruit and so I climbed about 5 stories and used the elevator for the rest. One thing that was really cool is that in some of the floors they had a museum and we got to see a lot of ancient artifacts.

This is a view of Hongmei park from the view of one of the floors of the pagoda

The top!
These guys are making a dragon out of pottery. (bowls and plates)

This guy in particular was ecstatic about getting his picture taken and having his work appreciated.
We saw ladies cutting up fabric and tying and gluing it to animals shapes like these cranes here:

Later that evening, we went out the Nan Da Jie and ate at Pizza hut We then rented a karaoke room and sang out our lungs for about an hour and then back to the hotel and enjoyed the jet tub for round two.
P.S. Those are rose pedals I'm holding, not food.

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