Bintan Island 5 Jun 2011
To continue the story after two hectic days at work (all energies charged in Bintan have been discharged).
In the drizzling lane, our van continued its journey. With full tummies and cosy nestled against each other in that kijang (van), we were slowly being rocked to sleep. I was trying to absorb the scenery but my mind could not register. Soon we entered what seemed like a town, and just then, we saw on a huge piece of land on our right, large temple buildings. The place was completely cleared and from the look of it, it has just barely started in its building up! Our kijang went up to the main building of Da Guan Shan Mei Feng Si 大观山梅峰寺 (Vihara Avalokitesvara Graha). The building was huge. Inside the temple, along the two walls were rows of Buddhist saints(?). Very interesting statues, like what I saw in Putuo Shan, China.
Taking the main place of honour was Guan Yin. To the side was another Guan Yin (thousand hand Guan Yin?). I don’t know much about Buddhist temples, and so cannot comment much. (^^)
Out in the open courtyard just below the main Da Bei Dian 大悲殿 were rows of Buddha and Guan Yin statues. And in a pond next to the row was the statue of Guan Yin 观音 with Shan Cai Tong Zi 善才童子. Following the same road out to the main archway (gateway), I learnt from Gilles, is the direction of Bali. Is there anything spiritual about this observation? (^^) By the two sides of the road were rows of Maize being planted. Up next to the Da Bei Dian were rolls of Dragon Fruits being planted. Very interesting combinations.
Much of this huge piece of land was still in various state of construction. And if I understand what I saw from the charts, there’s going to be a huge Buddha and a huge standing Guan Yin in this complex. I picked up a pamphlet and it seems that this temple could be related to the Mei Feng Guang Xiao Si 梅峰光孝寺 in Pu Tian 莆田, Fujian, China.
While we were there, the whole placed echoed as the chanting by a lone monk (later ChanCW talked with him) whom I heard speaking to the temple lay members in a dialect that sounded like HengHwa or Fuzhou. He was chanting for a deceased in the back hall, with a mike that transmitted his chanting to the loudspeaker system that seems to get the whole hall to resonate. (^^)
This temple gave us an interesting insight and feeling of the atmosphere. Maybe, the members of our group might have more to say. (^^)
And soon, off we went again in our kijang. Doris was asking Gilles about the 500 LuoHan that she saw in one of the travel agency’s pamphlet. The poor driver tried asking around but could not get much information on where it was. Just as we were driving along a stretch of road, I spotted a Thai styled temple in the distance. Could that be the one? Gilles and the driver spotted it too but had a dilemma on how to reach that hill top. To go ahead or to turn around. The driver then decided to ask a guard at one of the compounds and was advised to turn to a first track further down the road from where we turned back from. And off we went. Just as we went up the hill, a group of family members walked down. The gate to the temple was closed. Undeterred CW unlatched the gate and we walked in. No one was in sight.
What we saw was a statue of a monk trying to save what looked just like a pair of hands. Very strong impact to anyone looking at it. And there, we saw what looked like the gateway to heaven! Behind that gateway was like a modern art installation showing steel skeletons of would be pillars slighted in different directions. Behind them, in the distance were rows and rows of statues .. ah, the 500 Luo Hans! It was a sight to behold. On this special dias stood the 500 Arahats, each with his own characteristics – facial expressions, the things they held and even the dressing. The photographers in us could not stop clicking away, wondering which angle could capture these beautiful statues. We could have spent the entire afternoon taking pictures and still could not feel satisfied. The greed in our wanting to capture all that we saw. (^^) By the two sides of the huge gathering were Shan Cai Tong Zi and Long Nv sitting on dragons!
And facing the Luo Hans were the Buddhas or Guan Yin. The centre was the Guan Yin standing on a dragon! I was trying to imagine this Guan Yin as the one mentioned to me by Steven. (^^)
The rest of the group had gone up the steps to explore the main building. On the side was a Thai architecture pavilion where one could see the Thai Buddha statues and in a pond was a Tibetan Monk statue, as I understand. And on the wall, beautiful sculptures of Tibetan traditions. Meanwhile, inside the main building, we went exploring. The Di Zhang Wang said in the centre. Someone spotted Sa Ya Pek (San Ye Bo) beneath Di Zhang Wang. Interestingly, checking the joss urn outside, we saw the inscription of Xiao Zi San Ye Bo, Ji Yu Dian 孝子三爷伯，济玉殿. This temple is known as Ji Yu Dian. At the main gateway when we first walked in, we saw the huge statues being donated by some devotees from Ji Yu Dian in Singapore! That got our Sherlock Holmes mode launched .. what is this temple in Singapore? Anyone knows?
With the sun setting fast, we had to go, and so reluctantly, we closed the gate after us and walked down the slope to our waiting kijang. This must be the “high” for this day’s trip.
Ah, and we were still a distance away from Tanjong Pinang by the river.
Watch out for the next episode. (^^)
TAUTAN INTERNAL :
PS: Hopefully, Gilles get to read this and comment before he flies off. (^^)