Jile Temple, February 2010. Harbin’s beautiful Jile Temple, also known as the Monastery of Bliss, was constructed in 1924 by Master Tanxu; a famous disciple of the Tiantai Buddhist clan. Although firmly under the radar as a Harbin attraction, the temple stands as the biggest Buddhist building complex in Heilongjiang Province and draws a steady flow of worshippers.
Beekse Bergen Safari Park, October 2012. Anyone looking for an African style safari park experience probably wouldn’t think of The Netherlands! And yet Beekse Bergen, located in the municipality of Hilvarenbeek in Brabant Province, offers just that with the simultaneously enticing/dubious tagline “Sleep among the animals!”
One of the scariest things about getting older is the ever-increasing rapidity of the passing of time. I mean, how can it possibly be three years since I launched Leighton Literature? I was in Beijing at the time, my second stint, and between then and now I’ve been to Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, travelled all around Thailand and lived in Cambodia, Scotland and Spain before heading back to China again. It’s literally felt like the click of a finger.
Leifeng Pagoda, October 2017. Wherever you happen to be on West Lake, you can’t miss the mystical form of Leifeng Pagoda jutting dramatically out of the greenery. Dating as far back as 975 AD, this is the oldest colorful bronze pagoda in China and attacks droves of visitors every day of the year.
Orioles Singing in the Willows, October 2017. A trip to the Chinese city of Hangzhou is all about one thing: the shimmering, dreamy majesty of West Lake. Surrounded by misty green hills and lush parkland as far as the eye can see, this booming city of 8.7 million stands as one of China’s most adored holiday spots. No surprise then that I chose Hangzhou for a five-day visit during the National Holiday Golden week. Having checked into my grubby but smartly located hostel digs, I wasted no time in getting lakeside with a visit to the gorgeous Singing in the Willows Park.
Plaza de La Nogalera, July 2016. It would be an understatement to say that the Spanish resort of Torremolinos doesn’t have a great reputation. Disparaged by many as the grottiest of the Costa del Sol towns, I arrived here with staggeringly low expectations. After all, this is a resort that’s picked up unwanted nicknames like Torrid-Molinos and The Armpit Of Spain. Imagine my relief then when I exited the train station out into this sleepy little square. Ok, there was a Dealz pound shop and some tattooed bottom feeders leaning against a lamppost discussing how amazingly pissed they’d got the night before. But other than that the overall vibe seemed rather… pleasant.
Jing’an Temple, August 2009. If, like me, you’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring Asia, you’ll know that there comes a moment when you get all templed out. So by the time I rolled up in Shanghai I decided to limit my temple explorations to the charms of this A-list structure on West Nanjing Road. Dating back to AD 1216, it was all but completely destroyed by a fire in 1972. After a full restoration, Jing’an reopened in its current form in 1990.