I agreed to the excursion because I hoped that going to a place that is completely unfamiliar in terms of cultural practice and location, would inspire me to write.
The two hour trip went smoothly, thanks for waze, the handy little navigator app that my brother-in-law Ben installed for me in my phone. We were between Johannesburg and Pretoria when we saw an old couple on the side of the highway and my housemate suggested that we stop and offer them a ride if they are going our way. For a moment there, all the warning that I have received about the folly of stopping to offer strangers a ride came to my mind, but in the end I thought, "they look like an old couple, and so exhausted. How dangerous can they be?" And made my peace with our impromptu stop.
Turned out the couple were also travelling to Bronhorspruit, which was bloody far from where we picked them up between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and they were from an overnight service at their church, hitch-hiking home.
We chatted with them on the way and they were unemployed, with the husband drawing pension and the wife relying on his support, as she did not qualify for pension.
|Vistor's wing of the temple complex|
We dropped them of at a garage close to the temple, and they were so grateful. Seeing how easy it was reinforced to me how little it takes to be kind to a fellow human. It didn’t cost us anything to take them along and yet to them, this was such a huge help.
I was in a positive frame of mind when we arrived at the temple. We went straight to one of the temples (the one nearest the gate) and had to be redirected to the visitor’s centre. The receptionist kindly gave us basic information about how our visit would work, gave us a brochure. She suggested a stroll around at the museum and curio shop until lunch, where the cafeteria was and how it works, and where to go to start the official tour after lunch.
|Inside one of the temples|
We had a lovely quiet time touring the museum, where they had an exhibition of the calligraphy of the founder. Lunch was delicious – completely plant-based, filling and flavorful, though a bit oilier than I’m used to.
After lunch, we started the tour and the guide took us to the various temples in the premises. I learnt a lot about the origin of Buddhism and its ten core precepts.
|Inside the main temple from the door|
We visited four temples in total, and we had to take off our shoes in order to enter them. The temples were lovely and very elaborate, with a number of Chinese treasures, yet they did not look cluttered. So peaceful.
After the tour, my housemate and I went to the coffee shop where we had cappuccinos with very delicious vegetable dumplings. I was very full and incapable of consuming the butter cookie that I’d bought with the plan of eating it with my cappuccino.
The way back was easy to navigate and restful, and I was so happy I had gone. Sadly, the trip did not spark any stories on my part, though I’m sure I will use the location in my future writing. I took photos to serve as reminders to make my settings authentic.