This past Sunday, Jeff and I went hiking in Meilin Park. It is a park famous for having 100 year old lychee trees. They were planted in these hills just west of the traditional western gate of Shenzhen. When they developed this area, they put in expensive apartment buildings, but preserved the hills with the trees in a park. During lychee season, the trees still bear fruit. It was not lychee season on Sunday, but the trees were still very old and majestic.
There is a small hill inside the park. They call it Meilinshan (shan means mountain in Chinese), but it is not a mountain. It is a hill. Still, from the top there is a nice view of the reservoir below.
There is a very large dam that recreated this very large reservoir. This reservoir is probably the source of much of the Shenzhen area’s drinking water.
A temple was located inside Meilin park.
There were two interesting things about this temple. Children were getting some kind of martial arts lesson in the temple courtyard. I have not seen that happening at any other temples in China.
According to the sign, this temple has been here since the Ming dynasty era. But I don’t think the larger temple building is that old. Off to the side and behind the big temple building, there was another, much smaller building.
Inside this smaller temple building were statues of, well, it looked like almost everyone. Buddha, Guanyin, Tutigong, Guangong, and many, many others that I did not recognize. It looked like a place that had been collecting statues for a long time! There was no space left on the shelves on the back and both sides. There was no space left on the offering table. And there were statues on the floor. Although the statues might have felt a little crowded, this would be very convenient for those people coming to the temple. In one location, they could pay their respects and pray to everyone, instead of having to move from one spot to another spot, as they would have to in a much larger temple building! i think that this is the original temple building.
Now, for the “only in China” experience from this outing. As we were walking the path alongside the reservoir, we passed many people hauling empty water bottles in the direction that we were walking. People passed us going in the opposite direction with bottles full of water. I was curious about where they were filling these bottles. The path was a distance above the reservoir, with a fence along the side. Could there be a place where they were getting water from the reservoir? This path was nicely paved the very bumpy, uneven stones. I could see that it was not easy to haul full water bottles along this path, whether they were in a hand pull cart or on the back of a bicycle being laboriously walked down the path because it was too uneven to ride. Wouldn’t it be easier to just get water out of your tap, since it was likely coming from this reservoir anyway?
Further up the path, I found the answer. There was a fenced area of the hillside, with a gate, a sign, and a small cement wall with a plastic pipe sticking out of it. People with empty bottles were gathered around, waiting their turn to put their bottles under this pipe with a slow dribble of water coming out of it.
I think that the government authorities had originally tried to fence off this spring. I think that people kept cutting through the fence to fill their water bottles anyway, so the government gave up and cut a gate in the fence and put up this warning sign.
It reads, in English, Since water resources belong to the Nation, using the water is forbidden without permission. Drinking unpurified mountain spring water will severely affect your health.
The sign doesn’t seem to deter people. Nor does the long wait in line to fill large bottles with a small dribble of water coming out of a plastic pipe in a cement wall. Nor does the long trek up and down an uneven, bumpy path. These people were spending a good part of their Sunday afternoon collecting water that was likely no better than what they could get out of their taps at home! Maybe it’s a tradition. If it was good enough for Grandma, then it’s still the best water around!