CHINA 13:YANGTZE RIVER CRUISE- SHI BAO ZHAI
Next morning, we found ourselves docked for the after-breakfast optional tour of the “Precious Stone Fortress” of Shi Bao Zhai.
This temple-fortress is perched on the top of a steep, 700-ft high cliff, which is located on the north bank of the Yangtze River. Recently a coffer-dam was built to protect this National Protected Cultural Site from the rising water of the Three Gorges Reservoir.
This 16th century, three-storied temple is dedicated to Manjusri, the Buddhist deity of wisdom.
In 19th century, a nine-story red wooden pavilion was added, as a covered spiral staircase, for easier access to the temple on the top. Before the pavilion, visitors had to be hoisted to the top with a system of iron chains.
The temple is visible from the dock.
Since Kundan and I had not signed up for the optional tour, Kundan and I got special permission to leave the dock.
At the end of the dock, we found women doing their laundry.
The path from the dock to the town entrance is lined on both sides with shops and vendors selling mementos, food, water and soda.
At the entrance to the small town, there is a large hoarding with picture of the temple.
Then Kundan headed for the vendor stalls for memento shopping. I went “people-hunting” with my camera.Then Kundan headed for the vendor stalls for memento shopping. I went “people-hunting” with my camera.
Soon I came across a boy and a girl, who started following me. I turned around and pointed my camera at them. They put an arm around each other and posed for me.
After the picture, I started walking away. But they continued coming after me and kept trying to attract my attention. As I pointed my camera at them again, they sat down and posed for me. After I was done, I showed them their pictures. They were satisfied and went their way.
After a while, I came across the gateway leading to a second market, which ended at the entrance to the path to the temple.
Near the entrance I spotted two parents each with a child. They readily complied with my request for their pictures.
Later other parents and children also consented to my requests for their pictures.
Finally, I spotted a group of old men and women sitting at the entrance to a senior center. They agreed to my request,
although some appeared uncomfortable and looked away from the camera.
A woman even refused to look at her picture.
Very likely some of them had lived through the atrocities committed by the Red Guards during the infamous Cultural Revolution, when neighbors spied on neighbors and people reported even their family members to the authorities. It was difficult to trust strangers and people avoided them.