Thursday, February 21, 2008

Black Dragon Pool Park & Lantern Festival

Today's excursion found us on bus #9 heading to Longquan Mountain. The Black Dragon Pool Park consists of two main areas. The first included two temples, ponds, and reflective gardens. The second had several flower gardens, tea houses, an amusement park and a fishing hole. The temples were Taoist dating back to the Ming Dynasty and earlier. These were dedicated to the gods of nature (the elements and constellations)and there was not a Buddah in sight!

Today is the Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Jie. This is celebrated on the 15th day of the first lunar month and is the last day of the Chinese New Year. It's the first night to see the full moon of the new year. Many people make lanterns to be lit in the parks. People eat Yuanxiao (rice balls with salty or sweet fillings). This day is also the Chinese version of Valentine's Day: going out to dinner, giving flowers and candy. As I'm writing this tonight, the last of the fireworks and firecrackers are going full tilt. Nightly peace is returning.

The pool from above and we didn't see one dragon, let alone a black one!

Many archways graced the grounds:

The gods of lightning (l) and thunder (r):

The gods of wind (l) and rain (r):

A giant Mandarin character:

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