Friday, February 23, 2018

New year's eve by the abode of the god of the south sea

So, the Chinese Spring Festival holidays are over (at least for me). We welcomed the Year of the Dog here in Guangzhou, and we saw plenty! Like my habibi said in his own social media, we're learning to like and respect this city. It was a whole week off we had, so you can expect lots and lots of posts, beginning with this one on a visit to the Temple of the God of the South Sea (南海神廟, also kown as Nanhai Temple) on the eve of the new year. 

First of all, just look at the subway station taking you to the temple! How cool that it would have wave patterns! right?

The temple (apparently with a 1400 year history, and the only one remaining of four ancient sea temples in China) was a lot quieter than we expected. We thought we'd find a bustling temple fair and lots of people. Obviously, we miscalculated, as everybody was probably home preparing the new year's eve festive dinner. But at least it meant that we got to enjoy the temple in unusual calm as well. Loved the pinwheels and the bonsai by the entrance (or should I say penzai/penjing 盆栽/盆景? because this art form is originally Chinese, you know?), and the weird backdrop of a factory by one of the gates was... well, interesting as well. 

Befitting a temple to a god of the sea, there was a big special pond with carp and turtles, both real, stone and ceramic. 

We enjoyed the quiet of the temple guarded by all-hearing and all-seeing door warriors, strolling around, coming across a beautifully detailed gigantic bronze drum, seeing some few people burning incense (gorgeous incense burners) and praying at the different shrines, under one of which is supposed to lie a dragon, as depicted on a wall.

And then, we had a bit of a Lingnan (that's the culture of here down south) architecture lesson through various explanatory signs! There were oyster-shell walls, sliding doors, and patterns and shapes that we now recognize everywhere! 

Just before leaving, there were these trees covered in red ritual ribbons, as well as a pavilion atop a hill. In theory, that would have been one of the most beautiful spots in the area, from which to watch sunsets (I mean, it's a sea god temple, it's by the water, right?). But trees now block any views, and there nothing to see anyhow, as the area around has changed and is now urbanized. 

Awesome place. And we'll be back for it's own temple fair sometime in March. Anyhow, this is the beginning of a long series on the 2018 Spring Festival (Chinese New Year, whatever you wanna call it)!