China Expat & Travel Blogger. ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO IN CHINA. See My Fun TRAVEL Adventures in China!
China is full of some dope sh**. Seriously. And having lived as an expat in the country for some years now, I've found that the best things and experiences usually come about by complete surprise.
Take my awesome trip to Suzhou's Chongyuan Temple. How'd I wind up there? Simple—I was living in Kunshan (of Jiangsu Province), it was near Autumn, and I had a sudden urge to hop on my dusty Giant bicycle, get outside, and get in some good exercise cycling on the road before the cooler temperatures set in. I hit my colleague and we set off westward towards Suzhou in the early a.m. just cause , well, we could.
We reached Suzhou pretty quickly, and easily. The toughest, most grueling part was crossing the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge that passes over Yangcheng Lake. That's just one road that seems to never end.
After the bridge we decided to check out a towering, cool looking pagoda that we spotted in the distance. Surprise!
Turns out that the pagoda—actually, Chongyuan Temple—was an AAAA site that housed a colossal 88 ton, 33m tall standing bronze statue of Avalokitesvara, a famous Bodhisatva in Chinese Buddhism. You see—that random "dope sh**" I told you about. And just 20RMB? Well of course we were going in!
The best part about exploring the temple grounds was that it was as ancient and pictorial as you could get. Not grandeur, Forbidden City ancient, but definitely majestic in its own right. Heck, it was something you'd surely see as a battleground in a Chinese kung-fu flick.
By the way, it definitely made way for tons of IG pics!
As for the giant bronze statue of Avalokitesvara itself? I've seen a number of larger-than-life Buddhist statues during my travels across Asia, and I can confidently say that it was hands down one of THEE best I had ever seen.
In fact, I'd put it as #2 on my list of grandstanding Buddhist statues I've come across thus far, right after the Grand Buddha at Lingshan in Wuxi. Now that is some dope sh** that deserves some kind of special statue award if ever there were any.
These photos are great, but they still don't fully capture just how tall the Avalokitesvara statue actually was. Can you tell? It was incredible!
There were other cool items spread out all across the temple too. Just see for yourself.
And somehow we even managed to catch sight of the funniest Chinese/English sign I had EVER come across. And I mean nothing can top it!
Hilarious right? Finally, after about an hour, we decided to head back into Kunshan.
I'd say we were pretty lucky to have stumbled on such a magnificent landmark of Suzhou that is surprisingly under the radar.
But I guess that's what living in China is all about. The simplest joyride can lead to one crazy adventure!
Address of Chongyuan Temple in Suzhou: 333 Yangcheng Ring Rd, Wuzhong Qu, Suzhou Shi, Jiangsu Sheng, China... Try this address of Google Maps. They spell it as Zhongyuan Temple. Open 7:30am-5pm.