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Small temple ruins pearched on a lovely spot high above 白沙村 Baishacun, near Lijiang. Today, October 1, 2005 the small frame building at the back is the home to one abbot, one other monk and an intelligent bright 15 year old acolite. This unexpected visitor was welcomed warmly with smiles and tea after trudging for two hours through mud and light rain. This shot is of the smiling abbot, his bright 15 year old acolyte, and the friendly caretaker.

The smiling abbot is carrying on a long tradition. At one time the Fuguosi was one of the five main centers for the Kagyupa school in Lijiang. It was a large temple going back a thousand years. Its 法雲閣 Fayunge, the main hall of the temple, was built in the Ming Dynasty and justly famous for its graceful spreading eves. But today all that is gone. After being trashed during the Cultural Revolution this bulding was removed in 1979 and rebuilt as the 五鳳樓 Five Phoenix Tower in Lijiang by the Black Dragon Pool. Only a few shattered walls remain of this once great monastery.

Here is our story about finding this temple, which contacts in Lijiang told us no longer existed:

One morning I hired a taxi and drove to the 玉峰寺 Yufengsi which sits on the southern foothills of the Yulongxueshan, to the north of Lijiang. On the return trip I stopped at 白沙 Baisha, once the capital of the Naxi Kingdom under the Mu kings. Now it is a small village.

While my driver got a haircut I strolled around the narrow streets and noticed an old wooden sign for the Fuguosi. It pointed down a side street. Intrigued I walked down this lane until I and came to a new road under construction leading up in to the mountains behind Baisha. I asked several farmers along the way and they all said it was in the direction I was going. An old man pointed high up in the hills and said it was 'up there. I walked along the construction site road, on and on. a worker said the Fuguosi was another 5 km. I had already walked for an hour so I kept going.

I called my driver by cellphone and told him I was walking to the Fuguosi. It started to rain and I had no umbrella. My boots became heavy with viscous mud. I came to more construction workers and a four wheel drive vehicle stuck in the mud. The workers said it was just up ahead.

Rounding a corner I spotted a few banners hanging limply in the light rain and a small building in the trees. An old man was coming to meet me shouting and waving me on! It seemd I was expected! Perhaps, I mused, my driver had called? But no, the old man had seen me and just came out to meet me. He led me in through the old gate. I stopped to take a photo of the lovely old pine before the gate. We walked by several crumbling sections of walls, through a cluttered farmhouse courtyard to a two story wooden building and up the stairs to the second floor. There the abbot rose smiling happily in greeting, and urged me to sit down, rest and have some hot tea.

Yes the abbot told me, this is the Fuguosi. Here with the abbot today is just one other monk and a 15 year old acolyte, the old man caretaker and his wife. From the second floor room that doubles as temple and living quarters, one has a sweeping view of the mountains and the valley below. I was invited to stay the night and was tempted, but was wet and cold and my taxi was waiting. The abbot asked the acolyte to show me the shortcut path back down to Baisha.

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