I thought we were headed out to Dayi to check out the yellow leaves of the gingko trees in late Autumn. Turns out my old friend and travel partner Zhuang had a surprise in store for me and the gang of moms I brought with me: the gingkos we gaped at are the last of thousands planted around an old mountain-top temple during the Ming Dynasty by a Zen Master named Rujian. The temple, Baiyan Si (???), is the only Tibetan Buddhist temple built in Sichuan outside of the traditional Tibetan areas of Ganzi and Aba. It is located about 60km west of Chengdu in Dayi County and you’ll need a car to get there. (See map)
The temple is currently being re-furbished and there are gingko saplings lining the road and the stairs up to the main temple complex. The complex itself seemed deserted until I banged on an old bell, rousting out the abbot who then scolded me for being a heathen. Most visitors are photographers coming for the colors: yellow leaves, red tiles, green leaves, and white cliffs. Some photographers have put together amazing shots, like Lao Yan, who visited in 2008.
There is little tourism here because the whole area is beautiful in a simple clean way. There are no major tourist attractions to draw the developers and their theme parks so a trip out to the deeper reaches of Dayi or Chongzhou is always rewarded with good air, good food and simple quiet pleasures. Below are my best efforts at capturing our trip (thanks Charlie for editing these):
View Baiyan Temple in a larger map
I had a blast visiting Baiyan Si and considering it’s not far from Chengdu, it’s worth a visit. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.