Every New Years day I make a point to visit a temple. A way to rebalance the spirit after holiday indulgences. This year I took an adventure to Xialing peak. I’ve returned to this place many times. It gives a certain calm not found in other mountains.
The mountain is easy to reach by bike from downtown. It’s situated next to an artificial reservoir. Looking at the lake you immediately get the sense they will build houses. The water is not clean, the ground is not significant but those things don’t matter to developers. The water is a tool for raising the price of houses.
Regardless of the motivation it gives the mountain a focal point for its Qi. The ancient rules of natural energy that govern all living things. Qi has “Mountain in back and water in front” are the most important precepts for temple Qi. Xialing peak is between the sea and major western mountains. This smaller mountain has good placement for the Qi of water and earth to interact.
The climb begins by ascending steps, past a gate and up a minor peak. It’s a nice warm-up and helps clear the mind from distractions you left in the city. Once you crest the first hill you gaze down into the southern valley. The sun blankets the slopes. You see four temples. Each connected by a trail that snakes upward to the peak. The temples are small and expressive. They still bear scars from having electricity installed a generation ago. The ornamentation conforms to the mountain. Not much gilt. Instead, the decoration is in concrete and carved in wood. The dragon and phoenix motif showing connection between earth and spirit. Dragons and phoenix are wedding symbols. The two animals considered to be a perfect match.
Reaching the peak there sits a temple rebuilt many times. Placed because of its “everlasting sweet spring.” The water rises from the center of the complex. The temple is active with daily ritual. It's cared for by monks and pilgrims. While I visited they were drying the vegetables for winter storage.
Behind the temple lies a tea farm. The peak is now a gentle slope to accommodate the bushes. The bushes are trimmed. New buds not yet emerged. In a few months they will bud and picked for the "first picking." A tea plants first pick is the freshest tea.
Descending the eastern slope I stop by Baoguo temple. The adjoining restaurant is drying pigeons for BBQ. I stop to have a meal. I watch the day through the door as it turns to night. A good start to the New Year.