Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Losing my Religion

I must be having some kind of spiritual crisis. Just recently, I have found myself in places of worship. As a good god-fearing athiest, I am becoming a little worried.

Liuzhou Catholic ChurchFirst, I found myself hanging around Liuzhou’s Catholic church. But all is not what it seems.

This imposing building appeared a few years ago in a prime position across the river from the main downtown area.

I’m not sure how busy this place gets (I went on a Tuesday morning), but do not be deceived by the majesty of the building.

Closer inspection reveals that the majority of the building is, in fact, an hotel. Complete with China’s true place of worship – the Karaoke bar. The church only occupies the bottom right hand corner.

Also, should you attend, do not get too rapturous mid-service. You have not been cosmically transported. That tangy, fishy smell is not the Sea of Galilee, but comes from the rooms at the back of the church which have been rented out to the adjoining seafood market (the real reason for my visit!)

Xilai TempleInspired by this visit, I resolved to be even handed and visit Liuzhou’s other riverside religion – this time the Buddhists. It’s off to Xilai Ancient Temple. This sits on the opposite bank of the river, facing south. Jammed between two apartment blocks, the temple looks somewhat incongruous. However, it was here first.

Don’t you hate the way China dates stuff by the dynasty. “Originally built in the Ming dynasty and rebuilt in the Qing dynasty” tells me zilch! The Ming dynasty lasted from 1368 to 1644 and was followed by that Qing one which lasted right through until 1911. So , the temple as you see it today was built sometime between 1644 and 1911 – very helpful! Next time a Chinese historian asks me where the nearest toilet is I’m going to reply,”Asia.”

Anyway, whenever it was built, it is more active than the catholic church. When I was there (on a similar mid-week morning) there was a steady, but not overwhelming stream of visitors who were there to do the bowing and burning incense thing. It is a peaceful haven not far from the city centre. The temple is open from 7 a.m. until 6 a.m. except on the 1st and 15th of lunar months when it opens at 5 a.m. And not a fish in sight.

(Note: The picture only shows one corner of the temple. Click on the picture for more.)

Dao Temple - Dong MenWell, it only seems fair to keep going, so I decide to visit the Daoists. At first, I thought they were a bit harder to track down, but then I started thinking. They are everywhere. I head for Liuhou Park and Liu Zhongyuan’s Temple. Then I head for Dong Men (East Gate). Yes, there is a small Daoist temple on top of the gate. Fork over your ¥2 and you can go up.

The picture is from Dong Men.

At this point I feel church/templed out. I know there is another (non-Catholic) Christian Church in Liuzhou – I even know where, but haven’t made it there yet. There also used to be a mosque and a mini-muslim area (with good restaurants) around what is now Wu Xing Pedestrian Street. I don’t know where they went (do you?)

So, fortified with a good dose of holiness, I’m off to the pub to give thanks to the great god Liquan. See ya!

. This entry was posted on Thursday, July 28th, 2005 at 4:41 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Losing my Religion”

  1. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    This article has been superseded by better information here. And I did find the mosque. It was right where it used to be. They had just built karaoke bars and restaurants all around it.

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