Chengdu, July 13, 2014
Qu pulls over at the street car park beside Wuhou temple, one of the must-see destination for any tourist in Chengdu. This is the historical site where the Three Brothers Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei have come together to start their revolutionary war during the time of the Three Kingdoms period in ancient Chinese history. Having read the story and having enjoyed the 2010 released movie titled “The Three Kingdoms”, I get all excited to finally set my foot down on this remarkable land of history.
It’s 5:30PM and the temple is closed. Before I could express my extreme disappointment, the locals spot an announcement for a night visit session starting from 7PM. Oh well, that would give me some time to stroll around Jinli street shops for some local souvenirs.
We return at 7 though I am not sure how I could enjoy the beauty of this temple in the moody night lights. I soon find out, however, that the key to this temple are simply statues of the Three Brothers together with some of Liu Bei’s most outstanding generals and marquis. Visual of the blossom garden where the Three Brothers share their oath for life and death is no where to be found. Isn’t that the most important if this temple gets built upon the garden of history? Oh well, should I be so passionate about Chinese history in the first place?
Surprisingly, the locals are here for the first time as well and like me, they are finding out what the temple is all about. Though it’s not the most exciting destination even for a history lover such as myself, we all learn something new today. Liu Bei’s most important marquis, Zhu Ge Liang, the pride of China’s intelligence and knowledge, has spent his last days here in this temple before calling Xi’an his forever resting place.
We walk out of the temple in silence, each seemingly chasing own thoughts. My mind is placed within nothingness. Yes there is a temple here, but history somehow does not seem to reside in this wooden structure. None of us can touch its soul. None of us can feel immersed in the glory of the great golden era. Maybe it’s time for some Chinese to start searching for the hidden heart, even if it requires the help of a captain Jack Sparrow….
The exit alley is nicely lit by Chinese opera light masks. Out we walk in silence until Steven suddenly asks me if I could recite a Chinese poem. Before my mind could do a quick U-turn, Steven looks at my blank face and starts the first verse:
“The moon light touches my bed”
That’s a famous poem written by Li Bai, one of the most renowned poets of the Tang Dynasty in ancient Chinese history. Ok now I’m back.
“Looking like frost layering the ground Heading up, one views the bright moon light Heading down, one longs for his hometown”
I finish up the poem in everyone’s surprise. Though the cherry blossom garden is no where to be found here in Chengdu, it is always there, forever in my heart….