little buddha foo foo,
i don't wanna see you
pickin' up the arhats
and BOPPIN' them on the head...
Arhat! Arhat! Arhat!
Friday 7 June: We drove out of the city to visit some buddhist temples with really awesome gate guards. We named this one "Marcel". Worf's forehead may have been modelled after his nose.
The cultural revolution's effects are still evident everywhere -- we passed what was once a mansion, now filled with weeds and peasants. Out on the horizon we could see an empty pagoda built in the 4th century, now deserted. The monks were driven out long ago by the government during the "revolution".
The temples we visited have been turned into (surprise) government tourist traps. Curiously, the garbled signs in english made numerous references to "arhats". The natural question arose: what the hell is an arhat? (say it, it's fun. "ARHAT ARHAT ARHAT!") Mom and Dad read the signs in chinese and found out that "arhat" is the round-eye translation for "lo han", which are like buddhist disciples. We found and entered "The Temple of 500 arhats", and mom told me to pick one at random and then start counting my age in arhats (+1, since Chinese babies start out at 1 and not 0). The one I ended up with was... well, I haven't the foggiest notion because A) the name was in chinese characters that I don't know, and B) there's 500 of them. Nobody in the group knew enough about buddhism to tell me about my arhat, but this one is supposed to be my guardian angel. Dude, I have an arhat! And somewhere, you do too.