The Lingshan Wonderland of Buddhism (And, yes, it is just as awesome as it sounds)

April 26, 2012

In the past fourteen months that I’ve been living in Wuxi, I have to say I’ve really grown to love this city. Kind of in the same way you grow to love your annoying little sister. Or the nerdy kid in your high school that you’ve known since kindergarten.

I’m the first one to pick on Wuxi, but if anyone else talks smack about this city, I swear, I’ll totally punch that person in the face. At least in my imagination. I mean, I’m not really into violence. Or confrontation. Or really even disagreeing with people because arguing makes me anxious. So if we’re in public, I’ll probably just be like, “Yeah, you’re right. Wuxi totally sucks.” But later when I’m remembering the conversation in my head, I’d be all like, “What? Wuxi doesn’t suck! You suck!” And, then, bang, right in the face.

Sure, Wuxi is no Beijing. There are no impressive historic monuments like the Forbidden City or the Great Wall here.

The closest thing we have is this replica of the Great Wall at one of the local theme parks. I dubbed it the “Not-So-Great Wall.” And then I took this picture:

Practically the real thing.

And, while Wuxi may only be a short, hour-long train ride away from Shanghai, it is no Shanghai. There are no fancy European buildings and fancy European restaurants where you can get fancy European drinks that cost expensive European prices.

Not quite European. But still fancy. And expensive.

But you can get a heap of noodles and a beer for less than two dollars.

Wuxi's idea of fine dining. That's a FRESH toilet paper roll, y'all.

Even though it may not be the most exciting place to live or visit, Wuxi is a good place.

I swear.

Even the posters say so.

Other mottoes considered: "Wuxi is okay." & "Wuxi. There are worse places."

And it’s not as if this city isn’t totally devoid of exciting sights.

I mean, we have Taihu Lake, which happens to be China’s third largest lake. Third largest, people! (Don’t ask me where China’s first and second largest lakes are. Wherever they are, I’m sure they’re totally lame.)

Taihu Lake. Totally not lame. Not like those other lakes.

 
And Wuxi is home to the Lingshan Wonderland of Buddhism.
 

Welcome to the Wonderland!

As the name suggests, it’s kind of like Disneyland.

That is if Disneyland had more incense.

And, instead of everyone clamoring to get their pictures taken with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, people clamor to get their pictures taken with Buddha statues.

The main attraction at the Lingshan Wonderland is this big guy right here:

And by “big,” I mean really, really big. Like eighty-eight-meters-high-and-seven-hundred-tons-of-bronze big.

Granted, the Lingshan Buddha is not the biggest Buddha statue in the world. Someone told me it’s like the eighth or ninth largest outdoor Buddha statue. Or maybe the tenth or fifteenth. I don’t know. Whatever. It’s big. Let’s leave it at that.

I don’t think it’s even the biggest Buddha statue in China.

But, after spending all of last Sunday at the park, I’m pretty sure the Lingshan Buddha is the most razzley-dazzley Buddha statue in the world.

Because, seriously, people, not to brag or anything, but I’ve seen a fair share of big Buddha statues in my day. But I don’t remember any of those other big Buddha statues being accompanied by a musical fountain show complete with a lotus giving birth to a golden baby Buddha.

And, while most of the other big Buddha statues I’ve seen have come equipped with perfectly lovely temples, this Buddha had two massive, brand spanking new palaces.

Yup.

Palaces.

Two of them.

Because if you’re made out of seven-hundred tons of bronze, that’s just how you roll.

Lingshan Brahma Palace

Only one of the palaces was open to the public as the other is still under construction.

Before we could go inside, we had to put these shoe covers on our feet. That’s how I knew it was going to be a real high class kind of place. You just know you’re going to some place ritzy when even your shoes have to get dressed up.

The inside of the palace was all marbley and shiny. It looked a lot like a cathedral. Or maybe like a really high-end hotel in Vegas.

Oooo, fancy.

There was a sparkly, light-up ceiling.

Oooo, sparkly.

And a gold, filigreed Buddha hovering in front of a sea of stained glass, which according to the sign was made out of precious gems. I didn’t even know you could make stained glass out of gems. See, I told you this place was all razzle-dazzle!

Oooo, goldeny.

Oh, and, there was a multimedia stage show.

Yup. You heard me.

I said stage show.

I’m not sure what the show was called, but I’m referring to it as “Buddha: the Musical.”

The show focused mainly on Buddha’s early life – you know, back before he was a Buddha and was just a prince hanging out in a lavish palace with lots of belly dancers and stuff.

Buddha: the younger years. Back when his clothes were shiny.

They kind of glossed over the bit where he leaves his life of worldly pleasures to pursue asceticism and then enlightenment. Probably because that kind of thing doesn’t really make for very good song and dance numbers.

I think I watched the entire production with my mouth gaping open. It’s possible I got hypnotized by all the sequins. I did manage to snap out of my sequin-induced hypnosis long enough to take this short video, though.

I know, right?

I’m totally showing this video to the next person who talks trash about Wuxi. That should prove to them just how special Wuxi truly is.

And, if not, it should hypnotize them long enough for me to punch them in the face. And then I’ll run away before they can catch me.

Do you love where you live? Was it love at first sight? Or one of those slow growing loves?

 

40

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On April 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm Susanna said:

    If you ever go to Delhi you need to visit Akshardham (or, as I call it, Hindu Disneyland). There’s a big temple, obviously, and a REALLY good cafe (with cake) and an exhibition of animatronic robot things (who tell you how to be a good Hindu), and an ‘educational boat ride’ where you learn about 10,000 years of Indian history in 14 minutes. Oh, and also a musical fountain show. No Buddhas, but you’d love it!

  2. On April 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm Carmel said:

    I love my city, even though everyone here seems to be a little obsessed with it. So why am I leaving it to travel eventually? Sometimes I don’t know, but it’ll still be here when I get back. I think.
    Little video about Portland http://vimeo.com/41011190 (Disclaimer: we don’t actually move that fast. In fact, I think it’s a little misleading about the pace of this town.)
    Carmel recently posted..Paella Night…Ole!

  3. On April 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly said:

    Buddha meets Bellagio meets Glee.

    LOVES IT.
    James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly recently posted..Home, Sweet, Home Chi Minh City

  4. On April 26, 2012 at 7:47 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    No waaaaaaay! I can’t believe this place exists!!! Regardless, I totally want to go now.
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Andi’s Pick: La Suite Rio

    • On April 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm Sally said:

      I know, right? When I was there, I was like, “Wait? This has been in Wuxi this whole time & I’m just NOW seeing it? What?” It was really something else.

  5. On April 27, 2012 at 12:58 am Furio said:

    Yeah Chinese tourist attractions are often lame (please do not punch me on the face…)

    It reflects what Chinese tourists want (or at least are expecting) though.

    This is why I’m so “worried” they will finish Lugu Lake’s airport before I have the possibility to go back there (now you need 15 hours by bus from Kunming so no tourists).

    They will transform it in a lame place with music fountains and all that s*it to make gaoxing the Shanghai and Beijing bourgeois.

    BTW, Kudos for living in Wuxi 14 months!

    • On April 27, 2012 at 1:07 am Sally said:

      See, you call it “lame,” I call it “awesome.” Potato, poh-tah-toe, as they say.
      Personally, I love all the glitz and over-the-topness of the Chinese tourist sights. Maybe it’s because I spent so long in Japan where everything’s pretty understated. I would go to a Japanese rock garden and be like, “Really? That’s it. Meh.” But in China, I go some place and I see something crazy and I’m like, “There can’t possibly be anything crazier than this.” And then 5 minutes later I see something even crazier. I love it.

      • On April 27, 2012 at 1:28 am Furio said:

        I understand what you mean. For instance in Italy we have normal vineyard while in Beijing they built a huge thematic park where that should reproduce Europe and, inside this park, they have their vineyard and produce their wine…

        This may be interesting if you are into thematic parks.

        However, when they take natural paradise as Jiuzhaigou valley or Shilin (the Stone Forest) and transform it in something weird full of concrete music fountains, alleys larger tnan motorways or whatever just to make happy the tourists that do not wanna walk a meter, well… it really put me off

        I know Chinese are not the only people that do that, but here I found this phenomenon particularly disturbing : )
        Furio recently posted..The Stone Forest and the legend of Ashima

        • On April 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm Sally said:

          Yeah, I can understand what you’re saying. I guess I’m pretty lucky. Wuxi has lots of pretty parks around the lake, which are actually quite lovely and not tacky at all. Okay, so there’s some tacky stuff… but, overall, I think they did a good job of enhancing the natural scenery rather than pouring concrete over everything.

  6. On April 27, 2012 at 1:58 am Jen Ryder said:

    “A musical fountain show complete with a lotus giving birth to a golden baby Buddha.” You should do PR for this place, I’m sold!
    Jen Ryder recently posted..Taco Tuesday

  7. On April 27, 2012 at 3:14 am kyle said:

    I’m totally sure this is what Buddha was thinking about when he figured out how to end the cycle of suffering and reach nirvana. Just out of curiosity, were there actually any monks there?

    Also, my vote for the Wuxi tagline would be: “Wuxi: some places are better, yet some places are worse.”
    kyle recently posted..Doing the Thing That Scares Us: Moving Home

  8. On April 27, 2012 at 8:24 am Selly said:

    Interestingly enough I’ve started to treasure Ireland more in the last two years but that’s mainly because I didn’t have time to treasure anything in the first couple years I came here since I worked up to 18 hour days for the last two weeks ever three months and every last week of every other month. The remaining weeks were spend trying to recover from what felt like a really bad hangover without the fun of enjoying the alcohol first, sensibly naturally ;-) Now that I have time to play, Ireland really is a cool place, except for the rain, that’s not so cool, but hey my umbrella is my best friend ;-)

    Love this post, shiny Buddha statues and posh palaces always make for good things to blog about. And you’re right, Wuxi is totally like the place to be in China, it’s quite brilliant as a matter of fact! I should really throw my China itinery upside down again. Scratch Hangzhou, who needs West Lake when I could have that epic lake you have over in Wuxi! :-)

    • On April 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm Sally said:

      Yes, I think you should definitely ditch all your carefully laid plans to spend all your time in Wuxi. We have a lake AND a big Buddha. Beat that, Hangzhou!

  9. On April 27, 2012 at 11:18 am Annie said:

    OMG this place is awesome thanks for sharing the picture you have gathered. Love it

  10. On April 28, 2012 at 4:18 am Ceri said:

    It really is like Disneyland! :D I want to go there. Right now!
    Ceri recently posted..San Francisco, Te Amo ♡

  11. On April 28, 2012 at 4:55 am Jeanie said:

    I’ve been living in Singapore for two years and it has been a slow developing love affair. But now that I have started noticing things I really like I can’t stop. I have posts on my blog entitled Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens and Brown Paper Packages that talk about a few of my favourite things. Get it? Favourite things….Julie Andrews?

  12. On April 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm Idun said:

    “Buddha: the younger years. Back when his clothes were shiny”
    That one really made me laugh, I love your way of writing! :D

    It was almost love at first sight for where I live now (Stirling, Scotland), as I really like it here. But there are some not-so-nice-things as well, so sorta similar to how you see Wuxi I think. I sometimes complain about things, but if someone else does, I’ll defend Stirling. At least like, inside my head.
    Idun recently posted..Walking to the top of Dumyat Hill

  13. On April 29, 2012 at 1:28 am Kieu ~ GQ trippin said:

    Well first of all, I ain’t gonna say squat about your city. I love my pretty face too much. :D

    Second, we’re in Shanghai!! Sad it’s our last day, I would have totally planned a trip to see the Buddha. Looks pretty mighty!
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..A Wet & Wild Songkran in Chiang Mai

  14. On April 30, 2012 at 1:04 am Priya said:

    I’m in a love-hate relationship with where I’m living. And damn, now I want to take awesome pictures with Buddha statues- jealous. What if someone was wearing heels, would they have to put shoe covers on then?
    Priya recently posted..What I’ve Been Doing With My Life Since My Last Blog Post/ Almost Getting Evicted

    • On May 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm Sally said:

      YEP. Everybody had to wear the shoe covers. And most of the women were wearing crazy sparkly heels, so they were probably bummed their fancy shoes were all covered up.

  15. On April 30, 2012 at 3:17 pm Laura said:

    A musical fountain show?? That is awesome! And the fact that Wuxi has a replica of the Wall is just awesome :)
    Laura recently posted..Montage Monday: The Most Amazing Sunset I’ve Ever Seen

  16. On May 1, 2012 at 1:07 am Andrea said:

    Looks like a nice place to me! I love the picture with the toilet paper for napkins, we do that in Korea too! I think I have a slow growing love for my city in Korea. At first, so much about it seemed strange, but it’s definitely growing on me.
    Andrea recently posted..Amusement Abounds! – Lotte World Seoul

  17. On May 1, 2012 at 3:58 am choi kum fook said:

    A very nice spot to visit, and illustrated pictures are very impressive especially the short video.The differences function inside video could be found in local Chinese temples. The shows will be presented usually on the day of God or Goddess’ birthday. A huge Buddha status can be seen in Lantau Island, Hong Kong,but do not which is larger, with comparing the Lingshan one .Do you know of it? I love much to live in my place because there have two main resources,the beautiful,exquisite beach in South China Sea, and the National Park in mainland, just opposite direction. Miss Sally, when is your nest trip to Malaysia? Please let me know!

  18. On May 5, 2012 at 11:30 am Izzy said:

    So if you made me like Wuxi does this mean I’m like the dude who ends up picking up on other peoples little sisters?

    If that is the case, so be it. Regardless, I love the pictures that you took.

    I love huge buddha statues! They are awesome!

    I was curious, are you able to speak the native language? If not, is there a lot of English spoken there?
    Izzy recently posted..It Only Gets Weirder… Facing a Potential Murderer Part 2

    • On May 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm Sally said:

      Oh no, my Mandarin is even worse than my Japanese (and my Japanese is NOT good). People don’t speak that much English here, but, luckily, they are surprisingly patient with me. So I get by with lots of pointing & grunting. It’s not pretty, but it seems to work!

  19. On October 18, 2012 at 8:16 am Lynn James said:

    I love your post about this wonderful place in the world. I drink from the fountain of youth when I was there and released a dove in the sky. I believe it was some type of tradition. I felt so close to God in my time there it was amazing and emotional. I plan to go back soon.

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