The 8, From Temple to Temple

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Tianning Temple, Downtown Changzhou

As has been stated in previous bus-related posts, most routes have a specific meaning in connecting destinations. The Number 8 city bus is no different. To put it simply, the 8 basically gives people in the former Qishuyan District (now the far eastern part of Wujin) access to Tianning Temple and Hongmei Park. Qishuyan is basically near the city line with Wuxi, and it has historically been linked to Changzhou’s part of the Chinese railroad industry.

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The south entrance of Weidun. The 8 doesn’t actually pass this part. I sued this picture because it was more picturesque the the park admin building the 8 actually stops at.

The 8 does pass near some of the train-related plants and companies, but it also passes one of Qishuyan’s major greenspaces: Weidun Relics Park. There is a prehistorical museum here, but it has be shuttered every time I have been in this part of the city.  About ten more stops past Weidun, and you end up at this line’s terminus.

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So, what is actually out this far? Not much. The area seemed pretty working class and industrial. For instance, there was this ongoing, slow, steady clanking noise from a decrepit factory next to the bus depot. However, there was something out here I wasn’t expecting.

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Yeah, I know this picture looks just like a regular old rough slab concrete road. However, look at the big row building on the left side of the picture. That structure is actually concealing something.  Further into the background, you will see a gap in the buildings. I walked there.

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Turns out, there is a temple out here, tucked away in seclusion. According to Baidu Maps, it’s Guanyin Temple 观音禅寺. It really isn’t open to the public, as all of the unpaved dirt will tell you. This area is not meant for tourism — at least not right now.

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The buildings are basically look like new construction. So, to point out the obvious, here, it looks like a new temple is going up in Qishuyan. I find it interesting though, that the 8’s official terminal points are both temples. That’s likely not an accident, but I’m not going to hazard a guess as to why. For the most part, my estimate would be that this line primarily exists to get people in Qishuyan to Tianning and downtown in general, as stated earlier. Unlike most buses, the fare is 2 RMB on the 8.

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The Temple Behind Xinbei Wanda

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In China, Buddhist temples can be venerated spaces for worship, cultural attractions for tourists, and anything between those two concepts. In Changzhou, the most noteworthy temple would be Tianning with Baolin in Wujin coming in second. Sansheng and Dalin would be tied for third. However, not all of them are intended for tourists. Some really are just meant as religious centers where one can pray — or, if you are a secular agnostic like myself, go for some quiet introspection. If I were to make a Christian comparison, it would be this: “Local churches are not all cathedrals like Częstochowa or Lourdes.”

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And, so, that would be an apt way to describe Longquan Temple in Xinbei. It’s a tiny little place of worship behind Xinbei Wanda on Daduhe Road 大渡河路. It’s not as epic as Tianning Temple downtown. However, according to it’s website, it’s actually a branch of Tianning. By that, I mean by Changzhou Buddhism as an organized religion.

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The times I have been here — as I said, seeking quiet introspection — there has always been something else in the back of my brain. The hustle and bustle of Xinbei’s busiest shopping mall is mere footsteps away. But here? It’s relatively quiet. I wouldn’t be lying if I said there was an interesting juxtaposition to be had there.

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Diversions at Dinoman Club

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Dinosaur Park is filled with gaudy kitsch, but that’s part of the charm, one would argue. As one of Changzhou’s only tourist destinations, there are also plenty things to do and plenty of places to eat at. Dinoman Club is one of those places, and it’s three floors with plenty of distractions to keep one’s self occupied.

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There are pool tables, a bowling alley, a haunted house, and more.

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It also functions as a KTV with private rooms. These can include mahjong tables, computers, and karaoke set ups.

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The restaurant is decent. The two times I ate here were for Spring Festival dinners. One was private, and the other was organized by the municipal government.

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The first time I ate here, it was ala carte with a tablet-based ordering system. The second time — the government dinner — was a buffet, which leads me to think buffets are more for large, catered affairs. All in all, the food was decent, as I said earlier. But then again, this is Dinosaur Park. So, there’s got be some weirdness somewhere, and there was.

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A friend of mine said this would look awesome air brushed on the side of a van in the greater Alberta regions of Canada.

Laimeng’s Skate Park

I have loved skateboarding since I was like 12. I have a board, but honestly, I haven’t ridden it in years. To be honest, I’m in my mid-forties, and I somehow managed to put my midlife crisis behind me — although, I do own a couple fake leather jackets, and you can only pry those away from me from my cold dead fingers. So, why don’t I ride anymore? It has more to do with just getting old and the fact that gravity can sometimes hurt and the resulting ouchies and booboos will linger for days. I’m out of shape, and I do not have the resiliency if a 20 year old. It’s a fundamental law of skateboarding: you will fall down. You will wipe out.

Also, there really doesn’t seem anywhere to ride around in Changzhou. Qingfeng Park had an X-Games styled park, but the metal ramps became spotted with rust years ago and it became unsafe to ride. Foundcity Plaza in Xinbei also had a little park, but that’s long since gone. The only place left seems to be a concrete snake run in Wujin. So, I was excited — even though I really don’t skate anymore — to see that downtown’s Laimeng was putting a concrete course in its basement.

 

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It seemed like sheer simplicity. You have a few transitions, a slide rail, and some flat banks.

 

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Sounds good, right? If you sense a “but” coming, you would be absolutely correct. This park seems to be Changzhou skateboarding history repeating itself. By that, I mean the problem that troubled the Qingfeng X Games Park.

 

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It is unsafe and unfit to ride. I don’t know if they used a low-quality concrete for this, but the riding surface is riddled with potholes. The above photo shows one of many. However, the chalk outline makes me think that people know this and the park will be fixed. However, I do know that Qingfeng’s X Games Park had lots dangerous rust spots. Those were never fixed. So, count me as not optimistic.